You know how sometimes bad things happen for good reasons? As in, something bad happens to you, but you realise later that it was actually a really good thing that the bad thing happened? Well, that happened to me a few weeks ago and I’m still saying prayers of thanksgiving.
About a year ago, I decided I wanted to lose weight and after a few weeks of intermittent fasting and walking the dog, I dropped over 20 lb (about 11 kg), which is a lot. I was very pleased and I looked fantastic—so far, all good news.
Then, about six months after I lost the weight, I got the chance to take a new job writing books, which was even better news. As it turned out, however, I was amazingly stressed out about this opportunity—it was one of those moments when I had been given a chance, and I could either seize that moment and shine or blow chunks and destroy my future prospects.
The good news is that I was able to rise to the challenge and I wrote a couple of books that put me in good favour with the publishing company. The bad news was that my method for coping with the stress was to eat every single thing in my house—before the end of the year, all the weight I had valiantly lost was back. And then some.
Now let’s fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when my husband and I ditched the kids to attend the wedding of a good friend of ours. It was to be a momentous occasion, mainly because we love our friend and we were both so happy for him—but also because my husband’s boss and his boss’s boss (who had come down from Canberra) would both be in attendance.
I was fairly nervous about the prospect because I had never met the boss’s boss before. He’s not at the very top of the food chain, but if my husband worked in heaven, in celestial terms, I’d say my husband would be one of the lesser cherubs. Relatively speaking, his boss’s boss would be akin to one of the archangels, a Michael or a Gabriel, the sort of guy who probably has The Almighty on speed dial and texts Him for weekend brunches.
Basically, I really wanted to make a good impression.
To that end, I chose my outfit for the evening with extreme care. After much debate, I decided on a cute, slimming wrap-dress that looks pretty good on me, even when I’m pretty fat. The dress looks especially good with Very High Heels, so I busted out my really ridiculous pair of nude stilettos—I was planning to make my husband PROUD!
(Let’s pause for a moment to review the definition of the word ‘hubris’ which means ‘excessive pride or self-confidence’. Many a literary hero has been laid low by hubris. Remember that.)
The night of the wedding, my husband had planned for us to meet up with his colleague (the archangel) and his partner. It was late afternoon and we wouldn’t be driving, so we decided to start our early evening rendezvous with a nice glass of bubbly. And a second. And maybe a slosh of a third.
Now it was time to go to the wedding. As it was, the ceremony and reception were to take place at a gorgeous little venue in the outskirts of Ballarat, in an obscure little place the bride and groom feared no one would be able to find. Also, there were heaps of hotels in central Ballarat but very few within proximity to the wedding venue. To accommodate everyone, then, the couple had arranged for a bus to collect guests from the middle of Ballarat and bring them en masse to the wedding festivities.
As both bride and groom are Irish, the pubs in central Ballarat were filled with guests who had all had the same idea as we’d had—meet up for a quick one before getting on the bus—so when we left our little pub, we were among a large gathering of people sauntering slowly towards the bus.
I knew we were going to have to do a bit of walking, so I’d come prepared. I learned long ago that, while I do love my Very High Heels, I can wear them for only so long, so I’d brought along a little pair of sandals in my bag for walking any longish distances.
As it was, I thought the bus was picking us up right outside our pub, so instead of changing into my sandals, I kept my heels on. I was certain I could totter the few feet from the door of the pub to the bus, surely.
As soon as we were on the sidewalk, my husband spied the bus, and this was when my plans to make a good impression went awry. The bus was easily a block and a half away. If I’d known, I would have done a subtle shoe change under the table in the pub. Now, in front of Gabriel and his partner (who were both dressed to the nines, by the way) and the rest of the wedding party, I couldn’t very well stop and change my shoes—THAT would be embarrassing.
We’d only gone about ten steps when I learned the true definition of Things That Are Embarrassing (as it turns out, changing shoes is WAY DOWN the list). I was walking ahead with Gabriel’s partner, the two of us chummily chatting as we walked arm-in-arm, with my husband and the archangel behind us.
And that’s when it happened—my left stiletto got stuck in a crack in the sidewalk, my foot came out of my shoe and I fell over.
You know how some moments feel like they’re happening in slow motion? Well, this was one of those moments. One minute I was sauntering along, making a great impression in my fantastic dress and my even more fantastic shoes (hubris!!!), and the next l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g minute later, I was on the ground.
On my back.
See, I didn’t just fall over, friends and neighbours. I actually rolled. There’s a British expression for it—to fall ‘ass over tits’, but when they say it, they usually use it as a metaphor, an extreme exaggeration used for effect (that’s called ‘hyperbole’ in literature, but I digress).
I actually, literally fell first on my shoulder and then completed a full roll to land on my back. It was gymnastic, like something you’d see in the Olympics, maybe in a luge run gone terribly wrong.
But I’m a positive person and I like to look for the silver lining to every black cloud. As I lay there on the streets, in full view of everyone else going to the wedding, most especially the man who is in a position to impact my husband’s future career for the next several years, I realised how thankful I was that I’d gained all that weight back.
The fact is that I don’t get a lot of nights out with my husband anymore, and I’d planned to make the most of this evening. We’d left the kids with his parents and we weren’t picking them up till the next day, so I wanted to make this night a memory. I won’t get too graphic, but I will say that, if I had been even 5 lb thinner, I would have been wearing teeny tiny panties (at best) under that dress.
Being as fat as I was, however, I’d opted for full body spandex Shapewear, the type that goes from my knees to my neck. I might have looked sexy in my dress from the outside, but underneath, I looked like I was wearing a medieval bathing suit. People go scuba diving wearing less.
Which turned out to be fortuitous in the extreme—if I’d been wearing the other panties, the memory makers, that fall would have turned into a full on biology lesson of gynaecological proportions, right there on the streets of Ballarat.
It’s the sort of thing you can’t un-see, not even for an archangel. Ok, especially for an archangel.
As it was, I managed to fall on my backside instead of my knees, and with all that extra cushioning, I didn’t hurt myself too badly. Yes, I did stub my toe quite badly when my foot came out of my shoe, but I was able to cram my shoe back on before the bleeding started, so that was good news. Even better, I managed to not pull the archangel’s partner down on top of me (for the record, that, I think, is how people end up getting ‘accidentally’ pregnant).
In the end, we had a fantastic night. Gabriel and his partner were able to laugh with me and not at me, and before they left, the archangel said to my husband, ‘The next time you come to Canberra, be sure to bring your wife!’
There are many lessons to be learned here—know your heel limitations, remember that changing your shoes is less embarrassing than eating shit in public, maybe keep the bubbly to a minimum when you’re walking on circus stilts, always wear gigantic underwear.
But I think the most important lesson is the one King Solomon famously wrote in the book of Proverbs: ‘The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; he who watches his way preserves his life. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.’
Brother, you got THAT right.