07/22/2010 02:39 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Bruised Knee, Bruised Ego

So here's a trick question for you all. What's worse: Being dressed in black Lycra, exiting the gym (and feeling oh so sassy) and falling flat on your knee, or being dressed in black Lycra, exiting the gym (and feeling oh so sassy) and falling flat on your knee in front of a construction crew in muscle shirts?

Oh, and did I mention that you're old enough to be the mother of probably the oldest crew member who says, "Are you all right, Ma'am?" as you bend down to retrieve the contents of your spilled gym bag which you'd forgotten to zip, brush the wet tar off your arm, and hitch up your Capri Lycra pant leg to exhibit a slightly bloody knee and a deep blue bruise resembling an eggplant (the downside of daily baby Aspirin).

The saving grace was that for some reason I shaved my legs and moisturized this morning before working out.

Ah yes. I remember the days when I was a young Miss as opposed to a Ma'am, and I strutted past construction crews -- bristling at and welcoming the whistles at once. Now, mind you, I was hardly expecting any attention as I walked past the crew. I was simply feeling spry, and trying to cross the street -- which resembles a war zone downtown here in New York City as the new subway hub is being built and office buildings are renovated to make for more lavish and overpriced residential "dwellings."

Apartments are no longer called "apartments" -- they are "dwellings" or "residences" where "habitation" is a "lifestyle." The advertisements and billboards woo us: Come home to a "sanctuary," a "haven" in an urban jungle. Lobbies are dimly lit Zen-like labyrinths with black slate floors, waterfalls and couches so low that both sitting down and rising are challenges for those over 50. As for the slate floors and dim lights, falling on your keister is a definite maybe.

So, there I was after a great workout, exiting the presciently named Crunch, nimbly stepping in between a cement mixer and a paver when the toe of my sneaker caught in the small gulley between the new curb and the old sidewalk. And although to my credit, I did not go down like a lead balloon, I did execute a rather awkward partial handstand. As I write this blog, I notice that aside from the eggplant (hmm ... perhaps aubergine? Tres chic), the knee also has a dotted circular abrasion (wet tar will do that to you), there is a sliver of glass in my left hand and a deep blue bruise on the palm of my right hand.

The upside is that most New Yorkers pick up after their dogs now, and my teeth are still in my head.

Speaking of teeth (or lack thereof), in the last year, I have managed to pulverize bridgework on the upper left of my mouth (the original loss was the aftermath of a mistakenly deployed air bag about 10 years ago), and pulverize "real" teeth on the upper right. I now have one less bridge than Lower Manhattan. Upon examination, the oral surgeon asked if I was "under stress."

"Why?" I asked, trying to talk with the rolled gauze pad between my gum line and teeth (and feeling oh so lovely as one can only feel while drooling at the dentist).

"You're a grinder," the dentist said solemnly.


"You probably should sleep with a device."

"A device?"

"Yes, a bite plate. To prevent you from grinding."

Attractive, I thought. I imagined the scenario. "Excuse me, darling, while I slip into something more comfortable and put in my bite plate."

My dentist made me a subtle device that fits between my upper and lower front teeth. Add some pointy ears and I would look like Alfred E. Newman.

"How about if I just wear wax lips?" I asked, device in place, as I viewed my visage in a magnifying mirror under the fluorescent lighting in the dentist's office (yet another assault to my increasingly fragile self image).

And so, after the fall, I sit here now with a bag of frozen corn on my purple left knee. I should mention that this most recent fall comes three months after a fall from the window sill in my apartment onto my right knee. I climbed onto the sill seeking leverage as I attempted to open the gargantuan window that was sealed so tight, it was immovable (the aftermath of this heat wave which caused the frame to "swell").

I finally called the handyman to open the pane glass mammoth: Even he needed to call an assistant to lend two more hands. I fell because it really is foolish to climb on a window sill while wearing high heels (at any age) and step down onto an unstable hollow hassock when the hassock's lid is askew.

The answer to the trick question is obvious: My ego is far more bruised than my knee, and hurts a lot more.

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