On thin ice: He's fallen, and he can't get up

The Baltimore Sun

Being laid up with a bad leg gives a man plenty of time to think, and mainly what he thinks about after he's slipped on the ice and fallen is: How does Rob Roblin do it?

This all begins when I go outside at 7:30 a.m. a few days ago to retrieve my Baltimore Sun.

Naturally, the paper is in a corner of the lawn. This is because the guy who delivers it has an arm like Nick Markakis and delights in firing the paper from his speeding Dodge Charger to the farthest reaches of my property.

On this morning, the lawn is a sheet of snow and ice. Did I mention it slopes at a 45-degree angle? That will factor in here, too.

Despite all this, I decide to make my way down to the paper by walking sideways and planting each foot so it breaks the crust of ice, then relying on my incredible balance and athleticism to do the rest.

Oh, this proves to be a great plan. And it works really well for three or four steps.

On about the fifth step, though, the plan breaks down.

Suddenly, my left foot slips and I do a split such as a ballet dancer would do, but only if the ballet dancer was old, wearing sweats and built along the lines of Fred Flintstone.

Then I fall backward and slide 15 feet until I land on the sidewalk with a dull thud.

Lying there, it feels like the back of my leg is on fire, due to the fact that I appear to have torn every muscle, including my hamstring.

Nevertheless, the first thought that comes to my mind is: I hope nobody saw that.

And the second thought is: How does Rob Roblin do it?

Moments earlier, I had watched Roblin, WBAL-TV's go-to reporter when the weather turns bad, doing a stand-up on an icy street corner.

Let's face it: No one has ever been out in more terrible weather than Roblin. The guy is always standing in snow drifts or frozen ramps on the JFX to tell you how horrible conditions are. And you never, ever see him slip and fall.

Sure, the guy's a total pro. But he's not exactly a teenager anymore, either.

OK, so now I'm splayed out on an icy sidewalk and I can't get up.

For one thing, the sidewalk is a sheet of ice. And my leg is killing me.

There's no sense yelling for help, either. My wife is still asleep. So is the 17-year-old, whose school day has been delayed two hours because of the continued wussiness of the Baltimore County school system.

Not only that, but both are sleeping with fans roaring next to them, which is how we do it in my house.

Other people count sheep or take a snort of whiskey or gobble Ambien like they're Skittles. We turn on fans. Even in the dead of winter, each bedroom in my house sounds like a test tunnel.

At this point, I decide to wait for one of the neighbors to come by and help me.

I wait five minutes. No neighbors come by. I wait 10, 15, 20 minutes. Nothing. No one is stirring. Apparently everyone on the block has been laid off, because no one's going to work.

So now I realize I will die out here, with my copy of The Baltimore Sun still in its plastic sack and visions of Rob Roblin in my head, unless I can somehow get up and limp inside.

I don't know if you've ever tried to stand with a torn hamstring, but it's not easy.

I try flopping on my back and standing, but that doesn't work. I try flopping on my stomach and lifting myself off the ground, but that doesn't work, either.

Finally, calling on a lifetime of survival skills gleaned from the Discovery Channel and a coolness under pressure that would rival Sully Sullenberger's, I plant my right foot in the snow and somehow lurch sideways to my feet.

Then I stagger inside, left leg dragging, to alert everyone to the calamity that has just taken place.

Here's something I discovered about slipping-on-ice stories: If you didn't break something, people aren't that interested in your story.

This is absolutely true. They want to hear that you slipped, broke your hip or shattered your pelvis or fractured your arm in three places.

Or else they want to hear that your head bounced off the sidewalk like a bowling ball and you suffered a severe concussion and have lost all short-term memory.

If you can't give them something good like that, they don't want to hear it.

If you tell them: "Boy, I really strained my hamstring, you should see how bruised it is," their eyes will glaze over.

Even if you try to provide some detail - I was willing to share anecdotes about swelling, bruising, spasms and the like - you can see them start to mentally disengage and focus on something else, like what they're having for lunch.

In any event, the doctor says I should be fine in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I keep thinking: Rob Roblin - all these years, no falls.

You really have to give the guy credit.

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