In the middle of some great round of laughter between friends, we all heard the ominous sound. One of us had just fallen. And as we looked around to see who it was, our eyes all found the image of our dear friend on her hands and knees, the victim of black ice and Timberland boots.
“Are you OK,” I attempted to get out, but before I could finish my question – the laughter everyone had been trying to hold in came bursting out like a popped balloon.
“Still not adjusted to the snow life, huh,” Jake asked her.
We all laughed. He laughed even more. And although he eventually helped her up, he continued laughing – one of those laughs that you just can’t stop even when you’re trying to. To her credit, she took it well, commenting about how New Orleans had flat ground and no snow and how Timberlands were the ultimate fail when it came to either of those. We continued making our way down the sloped cement hill to her apartment, the five of us laughing and joking and now walking quite gingerly down the wet walkway.
Not two seconds later, we heard the sound again.
And then… SWOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!
Apparently Jake had been laughing so hard that he’d managed to lose his balance and not only fall, but go sliding down the hill – face first.
It was quite a sight to see. Here was this 5’11, not small guy, who was right in front of our eyes, sliding down the hill as if it were a ski slope… and not on purpose.
At first, none of us knew what to do. Whether it was shock or the pure terror of falling ourselves that way, no one made a peep. We just carefully continued walking down to the bottom of the hill, instinctively holding hands, not saying a word. Oh, but when we got down there and we saw his face… well, let’s just say we might have awakened the neighbors with just how loud our laughter was at that time.
Anita, who’d fallen just a few minutes before, beautifully summed up what everyone else was thinking.
“Karma’s a you-know-what,” she said, looking him dead in his eyes.
“Yeah, and that bitch got you good!” Leave it to CCB to break it down so it would forever be broken.
That night was one of the many times I learned that Timberland boots were not actually made for traversing slippery walkways or trudging through the snow, despite what it may seem like in their numerous ads with people doing just those things.
In fact, what I soon realized was that while no one ever says Timberlands don’t make for good snow boots, it’s largely understood by my folks who live in places that regularly get snow. I guess it’s one of those North-east secrets that North-easterners just expect everyone else to know, but seeing as though the last time I can remember it snowing in New Orleans was on a cold December day in 1989 (the day my sis was born), it’s easy to see how I wouldn’t have the proper experience to understand such a thing.
Therefore, when I moved to DC as a young, impressionable 18 year-old, I immediately went out and purchased my first pair of those rugged, tan, suede, popular, clunky, and uncomfortable boots. I wanted to fit in, yes – but mostly, I didn’t want to fall. (At the time, I assumed it snowed nonstop here from like November to March. I needed to prepare.)
And yet, just like Anita, I soon found myself spread out on the pavement one day while attempting to rely on the traction of my newly purchased boots. Year after year, I tried. Year after year, I failed. And each time I tried, I’d find myself in an inadvertent ice-skating rink, slipping and sliding along the pavement. Since I was just as stubborn as I was naïve, I naturally assumed that the boots were not at fault, but rather I just hadn’t fully mastered the East Coast girl style just yet. It had to be my technique, I presumed, and if that was the case – that could be changed with practice.
When I saw her fall down that hill that night, it finally hit me. I couldn’t treat these boots like I’d done the Pleasure Principle “step off the chair” routine by Janet Jackson. No amount of practice was going to help this cause. I realized what many had determined well before me: Timberland boots (the tan, clunky, popular ones everyone wore) were just for show. They wouldn’t actually help me when the going got tough.