July 17th, 2007

Got out of BART in downtown Berkeley a short time ago. Excited about getting to Half Price Books, which was holding a copy of Romeo & Juliet in the edition that my son and I like best (Signet Classics), because of how they clearly mark which words and phrases are footnoted. (We're going to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Ore., this week.)

In front of me, on the sidewalk, an older man, with a cane, moving slowly. Next to him, spread across the sidewalk, a large family (apparently unrelated to the older man), also walking slowly. So I'm stuck behind a wall of slow movers.

I accelerate and sidle around this group, and cross the street toward the bookstore. Coming up on the curb, I trip on something infinitesimal. It all happens in slo-mo: me starting to fall; my full cup of Peet's coffee getting squeezed in my hand, so the top flies off and the coffee starts to pour out; my knee, then my hand, hitting the pavement; the coffee spilling out onto the sidewalk and onto my glasses (though thankfully -- somehow -- not onto one of the beautiful shirts my wife has made for me).

Now everything relating to me is still; I'm on the pavement; my glasses are splattered with coffee. I stand up, feeling somewhat foolish (and a bit sore), and begin to clean off my glasses. At which point that elderly man walks by. As other people stroll on, he stops. "Are you okay?" he asks.

Yes, I am, I tell him. And I hobble into the store to get my book.

Entry Filed under: let's digress


  • 1. Julie Bernstein  |  July 17th, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Josh, part of what makes you such a great monologuist is that you are so willing and able to relate an embarrassing experience to the world like this. :) I hope you suffered no lasting damage.

    You make me nostalgic for downtown Berkeley. Is The Other Change of Hobbit still open?

  • 2. Michele  |  July 18th, 2007 at 2:47 am

    What Julie said! Plus, you do it in such an entertaining and vivid fashion. So vivid that I almost felt the pain of your fall, Josh—I, too, hope you did not wake the next day to discover a suspicious pain in your wrist or knee.

    In situations like this, I can’t be sure if it’s sad an entire group of people ignore your fall or if it’s better for one’s dignity that they do. A life-in-the-big-city quandary, I guess. :-)

  • 3. Josh Kornbluth  |  July 18th, 2007 at 6:11 am

    Thanks, Julie & Michele! I guess the good news is that I’m not likely to stop doing embarrassing things anytime in the near future!

    As for The Other Change of Hobbit: thankfully, yes, that great bookstore is still there — with Dave & Tom and the others giving careful and expert advice on what sci-fi and fantasy books would be cool to try next. What a wonderful place! (Plus, they’re fans of my dad’s late cousin, sci-fi author Cyril M. Kornbluth.)

  • 4. Robert Teeter  |  August 13th, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    That was you! I saw you at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (outdoor theater, intermission, not sure if it was during Romeo and Juliet or the Tempest). I told my family, “That looks like Josh Kornbluth,” but they didn’t know what I was talking about.

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