A nasty bout of stomach flu hit me Saturday afternoon and rendered me completely useless for four full days. Today was my first day back to campus, but I was still feeling a little woozy on the walk to the building where I teach.

I was so engrossed in the NPR podcast I was listening to, that I took a misstep and crashed to the right side of my body, on a busy corner of the main drag here in town. A girl behind me leaned over and asked if I was okay, but it was the guy not more than a foot in front of me, looking back at me, saying nothing to me, that made me laugh as I remembered a very similar situation about a dozen years ago.

I had been casually dating Shawn for a couple months, and when December rolled around, I invited him to see a production of The Nutcracker. That year’s show was not my favorite production—if I remember correctly, that was the year that the director of the now-defunct Omaha Ballet set and choreographed it in the style of the roaring 20s—and Shawn was sleeping well before intermission. We didn’t stay for the second act.

I was wearing a very cute cocktail-ish type of dress (Shawn said it looked like upholstery for a sofa; it didn’t) and three-inch heels. Walking back to the car, the sidewalks were snow and ice-packed. I don’t remember why he was walking ahead of me, but by the time I started to lose my footing, wildly flail my arms and lose my balance, it was too late for him to grab my arm and steady me. The only course of action was to let me fall, and spectacularly so. I looked up and Shawn was standing there, his floppy hair tossed back as he laughed at—not with—me. For a long time, it was the story I told when people asked me for a “worst date” story.

For all my lack of coordination, I really don’t fall over often. But when I do, it tends to be very public, and mildly humiliating. But at least I’m nearly over the stomach flu.

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