You probably know about the Darwin Awards — honors bestowed upon those who advance the human species by doing something so dumb that they accidentally remove themselves from it. Like the guy who wanted a Snickers so badly that he rocked the vending machine until it fell on him and crushed him to death. Or the worthy candidate who was so desperate to recover his pocket change from a sewer grate that he stretched out in the street and was run over by a Ford SUV. (I also have an unstoppable urge to mention the man who choked to death on a pastie he’d just removed from a stripper with his teeth.) Me? All I wanted to do was pick some plums.
Not that I need more plums this year. I have picked approximately two hundred pounds of plums — big purple plums and little yellow plums — from the two trees in my backyard. I now have more than sixty half-pints of homemade plum jam in a kitchen cabinet. I am purely tired of plums, which is probably why I decided it would be fine to pick some of the stragglers by balancing one foot on the railing of my deck and the other on the flimsy edge of a City of Berkeley recycling bin.
When a ripe plum fell into the bin and startled me, my foot slipped and an assortment of my limbs instinctively reached for what was closest — a deck chair, a mop, and a little net on a stick that I use to skim stuff out of the hot tub. As I fell, time slowed down so that I could easily assess the situation and conclude that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. My body met the deck with a solid smack — knee, hip, elbow, head. Then I lay there for a long time, quite curious about my adventure with gravity.
The head of the mop was under my arm and the net’s aluminum handle was bent into a V between my knees. My hip was throbbing terribly, but nothing seemed to be broken. I noticed that it was windy and that the sky was very blue. After about five minutes of lying in my quiet little heap, I started laughing out loud. Then I noticed that I don’t want to make any more plum jam this year. I’ll give the last bucket of yellow fruit to my friend Margaret. I’m still up for the blackberries, though. The blackberries are just getting started.