by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- They had a joke where I grew up. Someone would say to you, “Does your face hurt?” And you would say (the first time), “No, why?” And they would say, “Well it’s killing me.” Ha ha ha ha ha. Well, when we started remodeling our house, I learned (the hard way) that they say that in other parts of the country also. And it’s still not funny.
Country women know how to work – they are expected to work, sometimes right beside the men. No big deal. In June, I was right there with the men when we started building the footer form for our house addition (and by the way, don’t ask a finish carpenter to build a footer form because it will take 39 weeks and 70,000 screws). But anyway we were working on the form, and we had piles of lumber and piles of dirt and piles of roots and piles of rebar stacked everywhere. It was amazing that you could even see the dirt. But I did.
It was hot; the mosquitoes were out, and I needed a break from the high-speed process of making the footer trench perfect [yes, it DOES need to be perfect; Rick said so]. So I changed from my working-in-the-dirt shoes to something cooler and started to drag the garbage can up to the road. For you city-folks, ours is dirt-road-side service here, no curbs. The garbage guy, with that noisy truck that growls hungrily when you feed it garbage, was probably going to pick up on this particular day. So I gathered a few roots on the way to top off the garbage can. There was just one more root just a few feet away. I turned to my left and gingerly (I thought) stepped over to grab that one last root. Well, you know those shoes called Crocs, the ones with the holes in them? Well, they are not very good shoes for a construction site in general. And they are VERY BAD shoes for walking gingerly past a pile of rebar. So, yeah, you can guess what’s coming, the end of a 20-foot piece of rebar got caught in my holey shoe. Now most people, when they realize they are going to fall down, will thrust out their arms or hands or do something to lessen the impact. But for some reason, I did not do that. You know that slow motion feeling when you have an accident? Well, that didn’t happen either until impact, arms by my side. And when I hit, I heard this crack sound.
The first thing I thought was, “Ugh. I just fell on my face. That was stupid.” Believe me, if there is a part of my body that does NOT need to fallen upon, it is my face. And if you’ve ever doubted that someone can actually fall “flat on their face,” believe me further when I say that I was FLAT on my face. Possibly the second thought that went through my mind was that hopefully I didn’t break my glasses and, concurrently, maybe I finally broke my nose correctly and the nose doctors will be able to straighten it out. Then, the next thought was, “Gak! My mouth is full of dirt.” I lifted myself slightly on my heretofore useless hands and started to spit out the dirt, and while I was doing that blood started to flow copiously from my nose, which had just been forced into the dirt by the weight of my head at 9.8 m/s/s.
So I just lay there on the ground for a while bleeding into this little puddle below my bashed face. There is something morbidly fascinating about watching your blood flow into a little puddle on the ground. Of course, in the back of my mind I knew the dogs would come along later and lap it up if it didn’t evaporate first. But I just stayed there for a few minutes until the blood wasn’t flowing so freely. Blood is just so hard to get out in the wash, and I didn’t want to drip all over my tee shirt (I’ve only had it for 10 years or so and am not ready to throw it away yet). Eventually I dragged myself up out of the dirt, not spitting much anymore because now my lips were starting to swell. Maybe you’ve heard the term “Angelina Jolie lips.” If not, it isn’t pretty on someone from Pennsylvania. And come to think of it, it isn’t really very attractive on Angelina Jolie either. But back to the walk into the house.
You may be wondering, where’s Rick all this time? Well he and his brother Randy were on the other side of the house, shooting elevations on the other footer form. Yep, that needed to be perfect, too. So I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible (this was embarrassing enough without sharing) as I walked nonchalantly into the house with a hand cupped under my chin – ah, finally a use for my hands! In the bathroom I hesitated to look in the mirror, but I HAD to know. At that moment, I really wish I hadn’t. Basically, I looked like an alien from a Star Trek episode after a fight with Captain Kirk. The center of my face from forehead to chin was covered with dirt. I couldn’t stand to look any more. I got an old washcloth out of the cabinet (it’s a woman-thing) and started the clean-up. You would think (hope actually) that the net damages would look better cleaned up. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Things started to swell. Things were scratched and cut. One good thing, my nose began to straighten out from the swelling. That part was kind of neat. I put a frozen sponge on my lips. Then the guys came in for lunch. They were very sympathetic, but the truth is I felt kind of sorry for them, because they had to look at that face while eating. It was hard to talk, and don’t even think about laughing.
That evening we had dinner with a group of friends. And what do you think one of them said to me right off the bat, “Does your face hurt?” And I said, “Yeth.”