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I’m dealing with about 27 square inches of purple skin.

That’s a rough guess – I can’t see it except in a mirror or a photograph, but I’ve done the math and I think I’m pretty close.

It all started with a man watering flowers. As he was spraying them, he also washed down the steps of the hotel where we were staying.

I did not know about his efforts when I came hurrying out the hotel and headed down those same steps.

What happened then was - well, if you’ve ever watched a cartoon where Elmer Fudd is hunting rabbits, you’ve got a pretty good idea.

As best I can remember, and quite honestly, things were a bit of a blur, both legs went straight out in front of me. Since we seem to be bound by the laws of physics, the first part of my body to touch down was my derriere, where, sadly, a great deal of my weight is centered. After that, one step up by my estimate, I hit the small of my back, and finally, a slight touch of the back of my neck on the top step.

If the sequence had been reversed, someone else would be writing this column. That didn’t happen, so stop making those noises.

I bounded to my feet. I like to think it’s because I wanted to show I was still in the game, but an outside observer might have felt I was trying to keep anyone from noticing.

I didn’t shout out in pain or use any of the words I would usually holler in a situation like this. I’m not sure what the laws about public obscenity/profanity/blasphemy are in Amsterdam, but I didn't break any of them, at least not audibly.

It hurt, but I wasn’t hurt, if you understand the difference, so we went on with our day. About twelve hours later when we got back to the hotel, I asked my wife, “Do you suppose I’m going to get a bruise?” Then I lifted my shirt.

She said, “Oh no!”

I guessed correctly that meant yes. Because of my arthritic neck, I’m lacking some peripheral vision, but I would have needed to be an owl to see any sign of my injury. When we returned and were in the privacy - complete privacy - of our home, my wife took a picture of my body from behind and showed it to me.

Turns out not being able to see myself from behind is kind of a blessing.

Nothing I ever need to see again.

But here’s the heartbreaking situation. This is my finest bruise ever, both in depth of color and size, and I can’t show anyone without violating societal norms in many states and the law in a few. No viewing, no sympathy. Oh, sure, I can tell people I have a bruise on my back. They’d say, “Oh, that’s too bad,” but my bruise is worth so much more. Yet no one will ever know.

Life is hard.

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson

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