Kids can add insult to injury, but friends know just what to do

September 25, 1994|By SUSAN REIMER

The best thing about aerobics is knowing that in a little more than an hour it will be over, and I will be able to have a doughnut and take a nap.

I also like aerobics because it is an escape from all the troubles that buzz in my head. You can't think during aerobics or you will fall down.

Well, I must have been thinking the other day in aerobics, because I fell down.

That miserable excuse for a joint at the bottom of my leg, that made-in-Taiwan ankle of mine, gave way as I placed my foot on the aerobic step. I had this sensation of stepping off into thin air.

And I fell.

Fell right on my, well, "po-po," as Miss Sandy says in my daughter's ballet class. (As in: "Ladies, let's tuck in our po-pos.")

I landed full force on my tailbone and cracked it. I remember thinking as I hit the floor and slipped into that black pool of pain, "Well, Susan, you're not walking away from this one."

And I didn't. They carried me to the lobby of the health club, laid me on my tummy, put an ice pack on my po-po, took an accident report and left me there.

I faded in and out of pain, and knew I was not going to make it home. As the hard bodies gathered for the next class (Super Step, during which you dance like Shirley Temple on a staircase), I asked one of them to call my husband. The Super Steppers, in their Jogbras and their thong leotards and their Lycra shorts, were gathered around me when he arrived.

"You guys better split," I said, my voice thick with pain. "If he sees all of you in those get-ups, he will break out in hives."

(My husband buys me the latest aerobic outfits for birthdays. But when I put them on for class, he says: "You're not going to leave the house in that, are you?")

When I saw Gary, I burst into tears. I could not get up. I could not walk. I was not the capable woman he had married.

"I'm calling an ambulance," he said.

"You will not," I said, recovering quickly. "I will not leave here like that. Not in front of all these women. Do you understand me?" My teeth were clenched in pain and determination.

So instead, my husband backed the station wagon up to the health club door, opened the tailgate, put the back seat down and loaded me in like a piece of plywood. He did everything but leave the hatch open and tie a red flag to my toe. It occurred to me that an ambulance might have been more dignified.

Gary off-loaded me to the couch, gave me an ice bag and left for work. That is how my children found me after school.

"Oh, great," said my devoted son, flinging his backpack in frustration. "I suppose this means I can't have friends over

today."

He didn't even bother to ask if I was going to walk again.

My daughter (who, I am now certain, will be the one who visits me in the nursing home after my son puts me there) gently patted my head. "I like your aerobics outfit, Mom," she said. "Is it new?"

There I lay for three days, in a fog of pain and pain-killers. (Drugs, I am convinced, don't kill pain. You still hurt, you just don't care.) I watched helplessly as my children made their own snacks, watched what they wanted on TV, dragged out every toy they own, did not pick up after themselves, and ignored me.

My son came to me that first night as I drifted into a chemically induced sleep on the sofa. "Mom, I don't want to pressure you or anything. But, like, how soon till I can have friends over?"

During the days of my confinement, my husband made brief appearances and said, "You poor thing."

But, like soldiers when one of their own has fallen, my women friends rescued me. Meals and flowers arrived. Prescriptions and groceries were delivered. One friend even brought worms for the frogs.

Any incapacity to a mother -- from the flu to a dread disease -- is a disaster the scope of which only other women can understand. It takes eight people to do the job of any one of us.

So, women from all over the neighborhood swept my children away, delivered them to soccer and ballet, made them do their homework and fed them.

One of them said to my son, "You know what's next, don't you, Joe?"

"Yeah," he said, his voice world-weary. "There's a column in this somewhere. But it's her butt she broke. At least she won't be quoting me again."

To hear Susan Reimer read one of her columns, call Sundial and punch in the four-digit code 6156. See the SunSource directory on Page 2A for your Sundial number.

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