Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The world is made of glass

My family enjoys walking into things. We walk into table edges. We stub our toes on a regular basis. When we get together and conversation lags, we start to compare bruises. Bruises are a good topic of conversation. We can discuss colour, placement, sensitivity and size. In my family, the house resonates with bumps, yells and under the breath cursing. Its comforting. It feels like home. We are also very good at ignoring agonizing screams. We may cock our heads at the noise if we're not too busy, recognize the voice, shake our heads over the fact that that particular family member has always made such a big deal over the small bumps of life and smile slowly. When I go into labour, it's definitely not going to be at home.
Until recently, this native clumsiness has been a private family matter. We are a clannish bunch and don't air our dirty linen or bruises in public. Then my father broke the code. He finished his business at a major multinational bank and then walked right into their glass front. He shattered the glass and cut himself in two places. He needed stitches and the director of the bank came home to apologize. Or maybe to laugh. Visitors came over and offered condolences and warm soup. We could hear them snickering just outside the front door. A few months later I visited my sister in Amsterdam. She had a mammoth bump on her forehead. It turns out that at a store she had walked into glass. Since she does not carry the amount of momentum that my father does, the glass resisted her and hence the bump. She followed the customary cursing and shouting ritual. This time she had the entire store as an audience. Neither of us visited that store again. The other day my mother embarrassed us at an Archies Gallery. Twice.
I am very, very worried. If a business establishment looks like it has glass, I avoid it. At work I am very careful to trod the well known paths that I have walked a hundred times before. When we approach an obstacle, I let my coworkers through first. I am getting brownie points for courtesy at least. Do you know how much glass there is in this world? And it calls to me, in my sleep it whispers in my ear. I am an accident waiting to happen. If you own glass and I walk towards you, run. And please take your glass with you.