I fell when we were up in Maine last week.
Here’s what happened:
My wife, Kathie, and I always visit Pemaquid Beach when we are up there. It isn’t much of a beach by New Jersey standards. It’s rocky and weedy and the water is cold. Still, it is beautiful in a Maine way and the scene of many happy memories from the days when we went up there with the kids every year.
Then, they never enforced the two dollar per person admission charge and you could evade it altogether by entering the beach at one of its ends, rather than the main entrance. Now they are making a more concerted effort to collect it. Kathie dropped me at the end that required me to walk through a swamp to access the beach. She went to the parking lot and paid her two bucks.
After wading through the muck, I had to climb a huge mound of sand that had been placed where the swamp trail meets the beach in an apparent effort to block it. I climbed up and over this obstacle and was on the beach. Hey, two bucks is two bucks.
I found Kathie and she said she could not carry my chair and book from the parking lot. I took her ticket stub so I didn’t have to pay admission to get back on the beach and went to fetch my things.
As I was returning along the sandy path that wound in front of the concession stand and passed some picnic tables before leading to the beach, I was feeling all happy and content with my two buck savings. As usual, this was when disaster struck.
Suddenly, I lost my footing and lurched forward in a Spiral of Doom. My falls are rambling, sprawling affairs with lots of arm flapping and leg wagging ala Ray Bolger’s Straw Man.
I came to earth under a picnic table at which a late middle age woman was seated talking on her cell phone. She looked at my twisted corpse in shock and said to her phone mate: “I have to go. A man has just fallen at my feet.” Now, you know the chance to utter those words must have made her day, if not her entire vacation.
“Are you all right?” she asked. “You fell a long way.”
“Not so far,” I replied. “I’m only five foot ten.”
“No. You started to fall over there,” she said pointing at a spot 25 feet away. “ I thought for a second you were going to recover, but then you seemed to give up.” She sounded disappointed in me.
I realized I was having a conversation with someone from under a picnic table and decided now was a good time to get up and take stock.
“ I seem to be fine. Sorry for interrupting your conversation.”
I immediately launched an investigation into the causes of this calamity. I suspected divine retribution for my admission fee evasion, but soon found solid physical evidence for a more mundane explanation.
My efforts revealed the following: I tripped on a root that was hidden by the sand in the path; and I was wearing sandals.
The Witness said that she would report the root to management. In New Jersey this would have resulted in the whole area being sealed off with crime scene tape and the beach being evacuated until it could be determined if foul play was involved. This is Maine, however. Since the root was as thick as my arm, I suspected it has been happily tripping fee evaders and payers for generations.
The sandal thing is another story. I hate sandals. The only reason I was wearing them was that I was at the beach and I had a momentary brain freeze that made me think I could get away with it. Sandals, in my view, are a public health hazard. I believe New Jersey, a state that requires wearing a crash helmet for most human activities, is about to require helmets and kneepads when sandals are worn.
It should come as no surprise that people who REALLY don’t want to fall-high iron workers, tight rope walkers, mountain climbers-don’t wear sandals. I saw a History Channel special that revealed that the Fall of Rome was caused by the fact that all of the occupants were wearing sandals at the time.
Anyway, I thanked the Witness, gathered my scattered belongings and headed for the beach. Just to cover the retribution thing, next time I paid the admission.