April and I headed out of the field house and across campus. The trek across is one large climb to the main road and then a big descent back down to the other side. Her dorm was on the other side so we climbed.
The weather that day was unseasonably warm. In Kansas, you take the warmth of those odd winter days and soak it up. They don’t last too long, but they give everyone a chance to take a breath and gear up for the 40 mph northern winds and driving snow that will be coming within a day or two. We felt the warmth of the sun on our backs as we walked up the hill. The snow that had been on the ground for the majority of the winter was taking this opportunity to melt into patches of soggy grass and mud.
We walked in a vaguely comfortable but weird silence. I spent the time constructing and asking loaded, leading statements like “Well, good thing it is only basketball you don’t like…” and “Gosh, it must be the nice weather that made you want to go early because it couldn’t possibly have been the company. ha ha. ha.” I sounded like an idiot and she confirmed that by responding with short answers that didn’t give me much confidence for her reasons to leave the game.
We got to the middle of campus, which is also the top of the hill and reached a point of decision. Which path to take? We could walk a straight line down the steep hill where the soggy grass/snow patchwork quilt was laid out or we could take the path along the main road through dry sidewalks of the campus. I stood and studied both options for about ten seconds while April, without a word, started down the hill at full speed.
April is a dancer, she was a cheerleader in high school, she is very coordinated. Unless, she is put on an incline, where she immediately turns into the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Add in the soggy grass and she is one of the contestants from Wipeout. One of the bad contestants.
She made it about five steps down the hill before she started to slip, skid and glide. At the first slide, she screamed and threw her arms up above her head to catch her balance and overcompensated, the kind of overcompensation where you push your upper body into a tight curve so that your chin ends up on your chest. She tried to step back to catch herself and planted her foot on a sheer piece of ice. And again, she let out an ear piercing shriek and was sliding. Instead of regaining her balance, like a normal person, she skidded on one foot for a second before she corrected her balance and pushed her body too far forward and began the windmill arms, flailing legs, “I better keep moving or I’ll do a face plant” run. It lasted another second or two before her lead foot hit another soggy piece of grass and she took on the form of a pro skater, back foot well above her rear end and arms out like she was an airplane ready to take flight. From that position, she managed to throw her leg back down and continued to screech and slide down the hill as if she was on a airport “people mover” with body stiff and legs locked. She finished the show with both legs thrown out in front and landing on her rear end in the mud with a “OOOOF.” She skated on her butt and eventually her back for about ten feet before she came to a halt about halfway down the hill. The scream lasted a few seconds longer.
I stood at the top of the hill and watched with disbelief. I moved between not looking, because I didn’t want her to be embarrassed, to looking and laughing really hard because it was one of the funniest things I had seen in a long time, to looking around to see if anyone else was seeing or hearing this because it was awesome.
When she finally skidded to a halt, I walked down and helped her up and asked if she was alright while trying to keep a straight face. It was tough.
She was wet and covered with mud from her shoulder to her knee. There was even some in her hair, but she surprised me again. She was laughing really, really hard. She mentioned something about looking like an idiot and that she was embarrassed, but she laughed, almost as loudly as she had screamed.
I loved that.
We walked a few more paces and I found an excellent opportunity to move in. I said, “We still have a lot of hill to walk down. You better hold my hand so that you don’t slip again.” And she did. The grasp didn’t last very long, just to the bottom of the hill, but she had taken my hand and I thought she was lovely for doing it.
The rest of the walk went slowly and we talked quite a bit. I’m not sure what we talked about, but I remember that we walked through the football stadium and took our time getting back to her dorm. We ate dinner there and I said goodnight.
It was a good day.
And now for your enjoyment, we flew in a professional acting company to reenact the fall.
Fast Tube by Casper
[and just to be annoying – to be continued]