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Question: What’s the best way to recover from an embarrassing slip/trip/fall in front of snickering onlookers? —Steph
Answer: Whether it’s a minor falter or an out-and-out spill, everyone’s taken an accidental plunge. But a stumble in front of a crowd can be pretty embarrassing, and also totally funny. Wait… sorry, we’re on your side here.
Don’t worry, you can recover, and fully. For illustration purposes we’ll use the classic five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Depending on how bad you eat it—erm, fall down—you could move through the stages more quickly. Let’s begin.
Denial: That didn’t really just happen, did it?
Hey now! You don’t just trip without a good reason! That’s impossible! But look: You’re tail-flat on the pavement, and there must be a logical explanation for how you got there. Ignore the crowd’s laughter and determine what sent you flying. Check for the following:
—Do you see any banana peels in the area?
—Is one of your shoelaces untied?
—Is the pavement rough and in general disrepair?
—Is there a brisk westerly wind?
—Did a mole-person forget to close their manhole-door?
No? Dust yourself off, walk a few more steps, and then slip/trip/fall in the exact same manner, as if to say to the laughing onlookers, Nah, this is how I always walk!
Anger: What, like you’ve never slipped/tripped/fallen?
Are they still laughing? Now’s when you stop and survey the crowd, then give them the what-for.
To whoever’s laughing the loudest: Something you wouldn’t say around your mother along the lines of “Bite my [INSERT RESPECTIVE PRIVATE PART].”
To the Jehovah’s Witness who is laughing but trying not to: “Bite me.”
To the old woman with a walker, quietly chuckling to herself: “Yeah, you bite me too.”
To nobody in particular: “Bite!”
To the bum you may or may not have tripped over: “Call your lawyer.”
Bargaining: An appeal for sympathy
If the crowd doesn’t bow to force, maybe a different approach is necessary: Make them feel bad for laughing by pretending your fall is more serious than it appears.
Pretend you broke your ankle
Pro: Someone will come to your aid, and if sitcoms have taught us anything, this is a great way to meet a future husband or wife.
Con: You’ll be married to George McFly.
Pretend you’ve been knocked unconscious
Pro: If you’re a bad liar, this is great—for once you won’t trip over your words, um, so to speak.
Con: No smirking.
Pretend you’re dead
Pro: Outpouring of public sympathy, possibly some screaming, flowers.
Con: You’ll have to find a gentle way to break the truth to the coroner.
Depression: Begin with a sigh
Address the crowd and announce somberly: “Laugh… and the world laughs with you. Weep… and you weep alone.” Use a thousand-yard stare, but overcome your ennui just enough to dodge the beer bottle zooming past your ear.
Acceptance: Moving on
Straighten your shoulders and walk away—but throw in a slight limp for the sake of justice.