I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day because that means it’s gonna be up all night . ———-Stephen Wright
My foot fell asleep today just before our neighbor , Jurek , was coming down the stairs for breakfast . I could hear Ada answering the door so I shut down the computer and stood up . More correctly : I tried to stand up .
The thing about having your foot fall asleep is that you don’t know it until you stand up . Or , sometimes , as you try to stand up . Here comes that pins and needles feeling , called parathesia . That parathesia is the least of your troubles for the next few seconds .
Wobble around for a moment as if you’d just polished off a fifth of Scotch . Try not to knock anything over . Hope that no one is there to watch as you stumble and stagger , teetering like an old drunk trying not to topple over altogether . Your sleeping foot is floundering back and forth , having decided , evidently , to go it’s own way . In a few seconds you’ll be o.k. , though . Hang onto that hope .
I remember a particular lecture class once upon a time , way back when I was a student at UCLA . For some odd reason , against my personal policy , I found myself sitting front -and-center in the lecture hall , right in front of the professor as he droned on and on and on about something . I don’t remember what course it was . Maybe it was Statistics ? Sociology ? Foundations of something-or-other ? It was what they called a survey course , which meant three hundred or maybe five hundred poor suckers had been required to enroll , sitting there now in a huge lecture hall as internees in the University of California system , like slaves rowing down in the bowels of a scholar galley . An old saying is : ” If you can’t do the time , don’t do the crime .” There must be a university system equivalent to that saying . Maybe Timothy Leary had one ; I don’t know . If you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen ? No , that doesn’t quite fit .
I was dying to get out of there that day . I normally would have been somewhere in the back of the hall . I could have slipped quietly out a back door and be gone as soon as I’d had enough . But , no ! I was sitting up front and center , right in front of the professor .
Now , there were two front doors to the lecture hall . One was just to the left of the professor and one was just to his right . I started calculating in my head : three steps to the door would take about three seconds ; the prof was turning to write things on a blackboard every few minutes ; each time he wrote he turned away from the class for five or so seconds…………………….
Quickly , I made my move . I lurched for the left-side door . The professor had his back to me . Go , man , go !
The first step was good — all according to plan . On my left foot . My left foot was wide awake and ready .
My right foot was asleep . I couldn’t blame it . I had been bored , too . But that didn’t help me when I fell . That right foot completely failed me and I collapsed . The professor heard me plop onto the linoleum floor and turned . There I was , almost at his feet , lying on the lecture hall floor . He was staring . I could feel three hundred more eyes staring , too , but I didn’t look back . I needed a plan B and I needed it pronto . Daniel was in the lion’s den ; no time to waste .
As I saw it , I had two choices :
1. crawl back to my front-row center seat and sit out the rest of the lecture . This might have been a little awkward , I decided . Might have disturbed the direction and focus of the lecture , I think .
2. crawl out the left hand door . My whole leg was asleep and wasn’t about to help me out at all . A third option would have been to lie there until my leg worked again , but this didn’t seem , at the time , to be a viable choice . Pins and needles in my foot ? That was nothing compared to the hundreds of stares I felt at the back of my scalp, the entire classroom suddenly gripped in suspense . I could see in the intensity of his glare that the professor was trying to determine how wary he should be of me . They were all waiting , the professor and his students , to see what this guy who was suddenly and inexplicably lying on the floor would do next .
Now , there are certain lessons to be learned from this incident . Those are the kinds of lessons I learned at that great university when I should , probably , have been drifting in more scholarly currents . Each of us follows our own path , ultimately . Everyone must do his/her own growing , no matter how tall our parents and grandparents were . But , I digress .
I crawled out the door . I moved awkwardy , gawky , like a wounded crab dragging itself along a dry linoleum beach . It takes longer to crawl , dragging an unconscious leg along with you , than to boldly bolt out on two strong legs , on two cooperating feet . Crawling out the door took about eight to ten seconds , I think . The seconds passed in slow-motion ; each second carried a time penalty . Each of those seconds lasted about ten minutes .
Put one hand in front of the other and pull yourself along the floor . Use your good leg to push . Plato said the direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life . Sure , it’s somewhat awkward and laborious ; but it’ll be over soon . If no one calls the cops or the pep-team psych emergency squad before you make it out the door you’ll be o.k. Just come to the next class in disguise and hide in the back of the lecture hall somewhere . It’ll be alright . And , cell phone cameras haven’t been invented yet , thank god , so you’ll live this day down . Keep moving as best you can and get out that door. You’ll live this down .