How to Fall Down

Photo: Kagan McLeod

Y ou never forget your first fall. Mine was in the stairwell of my building. I was simultaneously putting on my coat while balancing a behemoth shoulder satchel and two bags of recycling while wearing, of course, a ridiculously pitched pair of Barbie-appropriate pumps. I was three blocks away before I realized my tights were torn and both knees were bleeding.

With the sheer volume of crap we lug around, the urge to be the first in the crosswalk when the light changes, and our beloved, perilous footwear, it is no wonder that a stroll down Madison Avenue can be a dangerous act for women. Sidewalk cracks, iPod-induced disorientation, and cell-phone walk-and-talk only add to the inevitability of trips and slips. The most hazardous zone by far is the subway, where the potential for a chipped tooth and scraped palms lies at the bottom of every stairway.

When the inevitable occurs, try the following for minimal bruising to body and ego:

1. Go limp. If you try to play it off like you were just breaking into a jog, you’ll gain momentum, which means a harder impact.

2. Use your hands. Grab on to a wall, banister, or person (taking care not to bring them down with you). You won’t land as hard or bruise as much.

3. It’s better to fall backward on your behind than forward on your face. The exception is climbing stairs, in which case attempt to catch yourself with your hands and knees. In all instances, avoid the chin plant.

4. Get up as fast as possible, with little fanfare. Don’t examine the sidewalk accusingly. Tell concerned passersby you’re fine, and walk away briskly.

5. Try to laugh. I took a nasty plunge down the main staircase at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble (knee-high, stack-heel boots). I picked myself up, straightened my skirt, and asked, nonchalantly, “Who wants my number?” We fall down. It happens. The best we can do is try to ensure we don’t fall apart.

How to Fall Down