It was one of those instances in which someone says, “I told you so,” and you aren’t even mad. They did tell you so. It was one of those sudden, disastrous events, after which someone huffily snaps their arms akimbo and goes, “See??” and you do see. This one’s on you.
Last weekend, my boyfriend Ashton and I drove up to visit my grandparents in southern New Hampshire. We spent a few days working through a few To Do lists, helping out able-bodiedly with the house- and yard-work that come with the changing of seasons—in this case a shift from breezy early summer to face-melting mid-July.
I was shuffling around the front yard in flip-flops, watering plants and weeding.
“Take off your chanclas and put some shoes on,” Ashton tsked, climbing off the riding mower while I knelt in the wild strawberry pulling crabgrass.
“Oh, I’m fine,” I answered, insouciant.
A few minutes later, crabgrass pulled and my flip-flops already far from my mind, I took up the task of moving six forty-pound bags of potting soil into a small metal trailer. I’m fine, I’d said.
My first task, I decided, was to level the trailer. I sifted carefully through the available pots and planters, searching for one just the right height to slide under the trailer hitch.
Here I am, under the impression that I’ve solved what I perceived to be the problem. The trailer is level—almost perfectly so, thanks to my careful pot selection—and it will be an ideal receptacle for the large bags of soil.
(I am giving a thumbs-up because I am perfectly confident in the physics I’ve worked out.)
Here I am, hefting the first bag from the pile over to the trailer.
If you’ve ever carried a large, heavy, more-or-less shapeless object (e.g., a futon, an angry child) you’ll be familiar with the extreme difficulty of really getting a good handhold anywhere. My basic attack strategy was a stiff hug and an accessory knee, supporting the bottom of the seemingly extra-gravitational sac of dirt. My arms feebly hugged its slippery plastic exterior, and I began to suspect it had been greased. One shuffling foot at a time—toe-foot, toe-foot, toe-foot—I made for the trailer.
Obviously this is what came next.
And then this:
…for some time.
Note the sad , ineffectual pot at right—just the right height in all the wrong places. I can’t imagine how this whole ordeal could have been more thoroughly my Own Damn Fault, from the flip-flops to the half-baked if not entirely senseless trailer solution, to my particular choice of drop site for my forty-pound burden. Me, me, and me.
To be fair, the “I Told You So”s were largely unspoken, and in any case the fact was well understood. My big toe hurt like hell, and my toenail looked like Rocky Balboa. I sat on the stoop in the shade while my grandfather the MD examined it briefly, offering a prognosis that included the words “it may fall off” rather offhandedly. My grandmother took me, hobbling and wobbling, inside the house to soak my foot while Ashton hosed off the chanclas he’d told me not to wear.
One week later and the toe is indecisive. I keep a bandage on so I don’t have to look at it, but even so I’ve had “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” stuck in my head for days. Soak, bandage, repeat. My foot is stained with Betadyne and I’m just waiting. Toenail you’ve got to let me know!
[Author’s Note: this post is dedicated to Erin Thomas, whom I promised a drawing of my injury. This is as close as she’s going to get.]