One of the things to know about me is that I have a special knack for hurting myself in the most ridiculously spectacular of ways. Once, in Amsterdam, I managed to fall down the stairs inside of a shoe store, something that I don’t think a more alert, present person would manage to do.
While some unfortunate souls may manage to topple down a flight of stairs in a foreign country by missing a step, or perhaps twisting their ankle at the wrong time, my topple down this now infamous flight of stairs was entirely due to my own inability to accurately judge space in relation to where I am.
This particular shoe store was arranged at two levels. The women’s section was at street level and the men’s section was at a level below the street, connected by a rather steep flight of stairs. We were there because my husband had discovered the shoes we had brought on the trip were rather uncomfortable and he was searching for something better. I had decided to mill about in the women’s section while he looked.
Let me say right now that Dutch stairs are nothing like American stairs. In the United States, our stairs are rather wide and not particularly steep. I also have the extra added benefit of being very used to the general uniformity of the stairs at home. Dutch stairs, on the other hand, are impossibly steep death traps that one should not attempt in haste unless they themselves are Dutch and therefore used to them.
Something to know if you ever find yourself in a Dutch shoe store is that when the clock strikes closing time, it is best to be out of the store. I discovered this fact when they began lowering the large metal door with us still inside. At this, I had a sudden impulse to rush downstairs to the men’s section to warn my husband that we were being closed inside.
As I rushed down the stairs, the words that came out of my mouth went something like this:
“Hey! We need to go! They are closing the STO–$@#$%^@!#@$!!!!”
I did a sort of slide all the way down on my butt as my legs buckled under me and my arms flailed wildly in all directions as the two shopkeepers on duty looked at me disapprovingly with a look that could only be saying, “Stupid American”.
My husband, between outbursts of laughter, attempted to assist me back up the stairs and out of the shop. By this time not only had I developed a limp from where I had most likely sprained my ankle, but my face was a lovely shade of crimson, in order to broadcast my shame to the world.
The shopkeepers said nothing, but looked on in silence.
I limped out of the store and down the street with shaking hands.
Later that night, I discovered an enormous purple bruise had formed on my backside.
Do NOT mess with Dutch stairs.