A friend tagged me in a meme the other day of a woman texting and walking herself right into a mall fountain. This meme brought back a flood (literally) of memories for me. You see, I too, fell into a mall fountain, so get ready for storytime.
I’m known for being a bit accident-prone. Actually, it’s more of a weird-happenings magnet, really. Stray ball in gym class? Odds are good it’s hitting my face. Rouge plastic bag in the wind? It’s headed towards my person or my vehicle. (I could do a whole post on ways plastic bags have interfered with my life.) You get the point. Let’s talk about the fountain.
When I Fell in a Mall Fountain
I’m now at the age where some memories feel like a lifetime ago. I have to dig deep into the archives for some events, but this one… it was more of like a traumatic block that lifted. I’m now 100% okay with laughing about it. Back then I was extremely shy and did everything I could to divert attention away from myself. At the time of this occurrence, I was about 10 or 11. I’m almost positive it was fifth grade.
I was with my friend Becky and her mom at the Chicago Ridge Mall (whatever the mall is called now, it will forever be the Chicago Ridge Mall). We had just had lunch at Pizza Hut where I embarrassed myself with my jukebox choice. Whatever… I now know I have more soul than those people ever did at that time. Another note: Becky was my genius friend. Like, honor roll, teacher’s pet, perfect Becky who insisted everyone call her “Becca.” No shenanigans were happening during a mall trip with Becca.
We were at the music store buying records and flipping through posters for our bedroom walls. Outside of that store (the name escapes me), we walked toward our next destination. I remember walking with the group. And then I remember pennies. I didn’t even have time to close my eyes underwater. I saw fountain pennies.
No one knows how I ended up in the fountain. I wasn’t testing my balance on the edge as kids commonly did. I wasn’t even all that close in proximity to the fountain. I wasn’t acting up or flopping around in any way. It was all so bizarre.
Here’s where the magic is though… Whatever superhuman, full-body spasm I had that propelled me into a parallel position into approximately 6″ of water left me fully drenched. That’s right… not a dry spot on me. Think about it. If I would have dove in somehow, I’d be seriously hurt. If I had just stumbled and stomped through first, everyone would have seen a lot more. I was in, and I was out in seconds. I popped out and right back into step with the group. Zero injuries and I didn’t even break my glasses.
No one had time to process what happened. I remember everyone just wide-eyed like they didn’t know IF it actually happened. But one look at me, there was no doubt that I had just been properly tea-bagged into the fountain. My hair was sopping wet along with the rest of me.
This was during the winter, and we were parked at the opposite end of the mall. I had to do the walk of shame in a packed mall with bystanders staring. I did my best to just look straight ahead. Of course, Becky’s mom kept asking if I was okay. We all did a little awkward laugh sort of thing while my IOU sweatshirt dripped and my sloshing moccasins left a snail trail.
Considering this was way before social media and cell phones, word got out fast. Heck, I don’t even think we had pagers yet. It was mall witnesses and landlines that spread the news throughout the school. It was both mortifying and slightly cool to be “the girl who fell in the fountain.”
Kids at school wanted to know how, what it was like, why I didn’t scoop up some change, and all sorts of other questions. Thankfully, everyone was nice about it. They seemed to be laughing with me at least more than at me. It certainly provided years of content for my closest friends. If there were badges for my clumsiness, I think this may have been the first and largest.
I’m happy for the reminder of this funny memory. I’m also glad it happened almost 30 years ago when there was no chance of seeing myself in a viral video the next day. That would have been too much for me at that time! But, dang… I wish I had that footage now!