The good news: Last night’s reading went incredibly well. Jaclyn Friedman and Toni Amato were fucking awesome (Jessica Valenti had strep and couldn’t make it, unfortunately), I met loads of Boston fatties and a few Shapelings — including, finally, Miss Conduct! — and got way more positive feedback than I deserved. And we sold out of books! Yippee!
Thanks so much to Jaclyn and the Center for New Words for setting it up and inviting me. I had an awesome time — except for one thing.
So, I brought this pair of heels along with me to wear for the reading. Very sensible heels, mind you — thick and sturdy, with a pronounced rubber sole. I’ve worn them many times and never had a problem, except for the occasional heel blister.
Unfortunately, everyone I talked to in the greater Boston area was flipping out about the weather, to the extent that I somehow forgot I live in Chicago and manage snowier, icier, slushier streets than that on a regular basis (albeit not uneven cobblestone ones). This, plus the fact that I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy some slightly dressy brown boots anyway, meant I could not possibly wear the THICK, STURDY, TESTED heels I’d brought with me. I had to go shopping!
As soon as I saw these, I was done shopping. They were exactly what I wanted — casual but stylish, heel not too high, comfy, great color. As a bonus, since they’re slouchy on top, they don’t rub anywhere — no blisters!
You know what else the slouchy top means, though? No ankle support. This will become important later.
Here, I need to rewind and tell you the story of the Mary Janes That Made Me Fall. The story is: I had these mary janes that made me fall all the time. Otherwise, they were perfect — incredibly comfortable, cute with jeans and skirts, no blisters, etc. — but something about the design of those shoes and the shape of my feet meant that about one out of every 3 times I wore them, one of my ankles would collapse, and I’d take a header. I never did more damage than an ankle twist that hurt for an hour or so, though, and I loved everything else about those shoes, so it didn’t really faze me. (Here, I should rewind and mention that between 1987 and 1989, I sprained my ankles badly enough to need crutches no less than 5 times. So I do have a history of weak ankles/not being so slick at walking — but because I hadn’t had a serious ankle incident in so long, I figured all the scar tissue had toughened them up or something.)
So, one day Al puts it together that every time I fall down (he’s there about half the time it happens), I’m wearing those same mary janes. And he’s having none of it. Over the next few months, we have many conversations like this:
Al: When are you going to get rid of those fucking shoes?
Me: I’m not. I love these shoes.
Al: THEY MAKE YOU FALL DOWN.
Me: But I never really hurt myself! And they’re cute and comfy!
Al: BUT THEY MAKE YOU FALL DOWN.
Me: Small price to pay.
Then comes the day when I’m wearing the mary janes as we’re crossing the street, and I fall down. Hard. Purse and glasses go flying, so Al has to scramble to collect them and me before the light changes and I get run over by a car. I’m still not actually hurt, but I really no longer have a leg to stand on, so to speak.
Al: YOU ARE GIVING THOSE FUCKING SHOES TO PAULA! OR GOODWILL! OR THE DUMPSTER! I DON’T CARE WHICH, BUT YOU ARE NEVER WEARING THOSE FUCKING SHOES AGAIN!
Me: All right. You win.
Shortly thereafter, The Mary Janes That Made Me Fall went to Goodwill.
And here’s the thing I didn’t take into consideration when I bought the cute new boots yesterday: The heels are shaped exactly like the ones on The Mary Janes That Made Me Fall.
So. I get to the venue, settle in, meet some people, all is well. Then I go out into the hallway, hit the edge of a rug, and fall down. Hard and loud. A bunch of people scramble to see if I’m OK — which I am, at this point. It wasn’t fun, but I’m not hurt, no biggie. Except that I now know from the way it happened that these are going to be forever known as The Boots That Make Me Fall. My left ankle just totally collapsed out of nowhere, and it felt exactly like it did when I went down in the Mary Janes That Made Me Fall.
But oh, well, nothing I can do about it — and hey, at least I’ve already had my fall for the night, right?
So. I read. I make it on and off the stage without falling. It’s all good. Then I head out for a smoke.
Same rug. Same ankle. Katy go boom. Landed on the same knee, too. Which sucked, and hurt a little more than the last time — but it’s still no big, nothing that’s going to hurt for longer than 5 minutes.
Then I come back in from smoking. SAME RUG. SAME ANKLE. SAME KNEE. Now, my ankle is officially twisted — like, it’s-gonna-hurt-tomorrow twisted — and my knee officially hurts. But still, I’m mobile — if a little slow — and there’s an after party to get to.
Did I mention that up to this point, I’ve been drinking nothing but water? Yeah. (I have a feeling that by the third fall, and the third time I screeched, “It’s these goddamned boots! They’re just… something about the shape… weak ankles… I used to have these mary janes my husband made me throw out… goddammit!” people weren’t really buying that. But it was true!)
Anyway, I get to the after party, and all goes well for a couple hours. I have two cocktails and do a lot of talking with Miss Conduct, Marina, Colleen, Cornflake, Monkey, and various delightful others. It’s a blast. Then Miss Conduct and I get up to leave.
You’ll never guess what happened.
This time with the power of two martinis behind it (on an empty stomach, no less). And yep, same ankle, same knee.
And this time? I can’t even get up right away. This time, my left ankle and right knee are both like, “FUCK YOU, LADY. EVERY TIME WE LET YOU GET UP, YOU JUST DO THIS TO US AGAIN.” So I’m sitting on the floor of a bar, trying not to cry, with a bunch of people around me wondering if they need to call an ambulance, which is always an awesome place to be.
Eventually, I get myself up (with a little help), and I immediately realize I can’t really walk, to speak of. But my hotel is only a few blocks away, so it seems ridiculous to call a cab. Miss Conduct kindly offers to walk me home, and after the first block or so, I can make it without wanting to scream in pain, but I’m still wincing a lot. It’s official: My goddamned ankle is sprained. Didn’t happen the first time, or the second, or THE THIRD, but the fourth was the charm. Furthermore, my other knee is bruised and swollen all to hell, what with having +/- 200 lbs. come down on it 4 TIMES IN ONE NIGHT — the knee actually hurts slightly more overall, but it’s easier to put weight on that leg, so it’s kind of a draw.
Get back to hotel. Call Al. (“YOU’RE GOING TO THROW OUT THOSE BOOTS IMMEDIATELY, RIGHT?”) Take 3 Advil. Go to bed.
The more-or-less happy ending is that today’s air travel went as smoothly as possible (verrrry much unlike Wednesday’s), and I’m home now. Fortunately, I had a pair of much more sensible boots with me — flat snow boots with excellent ankle support — which got me through the airports slowly but surely. But both legs still hurt like a bitch, walking still sucks, climbing the stairs to my apartment really sucks, and I suspect those things will remain true for at least a few more days.
There is something sort of poetic, I guess, about the combination of doing my most well-attended and well-received reading ever, meeting loads of people who gushed about how fabulous I was — and literally falling on my face. Four times. Instead of a swelled head, I got a swelled knee and ankle. That seems about right.
So, yeah. That’s how Boston went. Ow ow ow ow ow. But fun! Thanks a bazillion to the Shapelings who came out.