I almost called in sick this week.
Usually by Tuesday, I have a pretty good Idea of what subject I'll be addressing in Friday's column. By then something that I've read in the Times or seen on Good Morning America or heard on PBS or stumbled across on the Internet will have grabbed hold and won't turn loose.
Sometimes it's sparked by a conversation with my husband or daughters or with a friend. I never know what it'll be but I've been able to depend on the inspiration arriving like clockwork in plenty of time for me to meet my Thursday deadline.
Over the weekend, I thought I'd found my topic. A cheerleader in Texas had been gang-raped at a party. Two of her assailants, both student athletes, had been arrested. However, the cases moved slowly through the courts and it took an inordinately long time for indictments to be returned.
That meant (and in sports-rabid Texas this is no small matter) the young men continued to play school sports for a long while after the incident. Which meant the cheerleader found herself in the position of having to cheer for one of her assailants every time he approached the free-throw line.
She chose to step aside and remain silent while the rest of the squad cheered, "Two, four, six eight, 10 ... come on Rahkeem, put it in!" Because she refused to perform this incredibly inappropriate - no, obscene - cheer for her rapist, she was removed from the squad.
She and her parents sued. They lost. They appealed. They lost the appeal and now she's been ordered to pay $48,000 for the school board's legal fees. Her lawsuit was judged to be "frivolous."
Yep, I'm pretty sure I could have gotten 750 indignant words out of that cautionary tale.
I had book marked some reading on the case and was ready to start doing research when, on Monday, I tripped and fell.
Doesn't sound serious, does it? People fall down all the time. No big deal. You get up, you dust off, you put some Mercurochrome on the road rash and you go on.
That's always been my experience up until Monday. On Monday, everything changed.
I stumbled on a cross tie in the parking lot at my shop. In other falls I've had, they seemed to take place in slow motion as my arms windmilled and I twisted to land in a way that might do the least damage. But not this time. This time, it felt as though a giant hand slammed me to earth in a nanosecond.
I lay there on my left side fearing, in equal measure, that something was broken and someone had seen me. By the time I stood up, I knew I was injured. My arm had been jammed into my ribs and my knee was swelling fast.
I never realized bruised ribs could hurt like this. It's a creepy, insidious pain. When you're still, you're fine. Then you decide to get up or roll over or, heaven forbid, cough and you're transported from fine to agony with no stops in between. I've been told it could go on like this for weeks.
I've been fortunate in that I've known very little physical discomfort in my life. Sure, I gave birth to two daughters but the triumphant end results of those long labors effectively wiped out any memory of pain. Other than that, a long-ago whiplash injury that flares up as a early warning signal when I'm taking life too seriously is the only other extended physical discomfort I've ever experienced.
I don't know how people live with chronic pain. After just a few days I'm ready to throw in the towel. There are things I want to do, need to do and every time I try, this pain jerks me back. Just making a pot of coffee requires multiple starts and stops. Every movement has to be measured, trying to guess if will it hurt more if I turn this way or lift that way.
I suppose this is the first injury of my new old age. Children fall and spring right back up, ready for more. Young adults rise from a fall in a parking lot with only their pride bruised. But at my age, well-ensconced in my 50s, it's a whole new landscape. One of hazards and pitfalls that once were skipped over or danced around. Now they loom, threatening and insidious. There is no upside. Getting old sucks.
So instead of telling the story of a Texas cheerleader brutalized first by school mates, then by her school and finally by the legal system, I've spent the week icing my side and mourning the loss of my final vestige of youth: The ability to fall down and bounce back up.
Did I mention that getting old sucks?Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.