What is it?
That could be good or bad, depending on what you're falling off or from or into.
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Falling off of love is basically all right.
I'm falling off a ladder.
Do you love the ladder?
So one of the bad ones, then.
"Ladder! No! Don't push me away!"
You've got to help me!
Can do. OK. So let's slow this down a bit.
I ... wait. How did you slow this down? Shouldn't I have hit the ground by now?
Your sensation of time's passage is less reliable than you think. Especially during surprising or traumatic events, things can happen very, very fast, or very, very slowly.
That rings a bell! When I first fell, everything did seem to be going much too fast.
Exactly. If things were moving slowly, you wouldn't have fallen. You'd have grabbed onto something, because it's idiotically simple to grab onto slow-moving things.
Let me show you. Is there like a tree branch or windowsill or something coming up from below you that you can grab?
There is a windowsill coming up.
Let me try, and ... WHOA!
Did everything get real fast all of a sudden?
Yes! My hands flapped against it like a kitten batting at yarn.
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A kitten would have done quite a bit better probably.
Yeah, see? Time's only going to be slow during moments of reflection. We'll only have a limited number of actions we can possibly take.
OK, so what do we do?
Can you hurry this up?
Oh, sorry. I put the kettle on.
Oh sure. Wouldn't want to waste this time-bending by going tealess.
That is a good point, though. This is taking rather longer than I thought it would. I wonder ...
You wonder what?
I wonder if you're ... about to die?
Are like episodes of your life flashing before your eyes?
You mean am I thinking about this?
Ahhh, right. No. Those episodes are not flashing before my eyes.
So you're probably not about to die. Well, that's good. OK, let's set a course for serious bodily damage then!
Can we set a course for something a little better?
Nope. Aim low and get surprised by the upside, I always say. OK then. Let's find a way to stop you.
This isn't going to be something dumb, is it?
Why would you think I'd make you do something dumb?
Oh, yes. I suppose I do have a history of that, don't I? No, I'm not going to get you to do something dumb.
I don't want to start flapping my arms like a bird or anything.
No, of course not. The ratio of arm surface area to your weight is way too small for that to accomplish anything more than your corpse having fractionally better toned arms. No, we have to stay realistic here.
But, on that subject, are you a bird-friend, or do you otherwise have any control over beasts of the air?
Are there any birds around at all?
Seriously? Yeah, there's a seagull circling overhead.
That's good! A seagull's a pretty big bird.
Also an ugly big bird.
Ask him if he'll help.
I SAID I'M NOT DOING ANYTHING STUPID WITH BIRDS!
You said you weren't going to do something stupid like a bir- ... you know what? Fine. If you're going to be such a big bird baby about this, we'll just use hard, turgid science to save you.
OK, so you were on a ladder. I'm assuming you have some tools with you?
I've got this hammer here, yes.
If you throw that hammer at, say, uh, hang on, math ... three times the speed of sound or so, you should kill off most of your momentum.
I don't think I can throw a hammer that fast.
Even if you only get it up to one or two times the speed of sound, that will still help.
No, I don't think you're understanding the scale of the dilemma.
In situations of extreme duress, people have been known to exhibit hysterical strength. So throw the hammer! You might get lucky.
OK, here goes!
How fast did you throw it?
It's falling alongside me.
So not very fast, then?
I think I can reach out and grab it.
Hmm. OK, grab it and maybe ... maybe try again?
Too late. It's now floating above me just out of reach.
Yeah, I think you just accelerated yourself down even faster.
That sounds bad.
Doubly bad, because I realize now you needed that hammer for my next bit of advice.
What was that?
You were going to build another ladder to grab onto.
Oh God, I'm going to die listening to a moron.
And then get hit by a falling hammer.
"Hammer! No! I love you!"
You magnificent f****r.
I guess I kind of did get you to do something dumb, didn't I?
I'm so screwed.
Not necessarily. You're falling from a couple stories up?
And we've wasted too much time on that hammer business for you to twist around to get your legs under you.
Thanks for that.
No problem. You're not doomed yet, though. I need you to pay really close attention, OK?
The human body has a density of about 1.062 g/cm3, which is just a bit more than water. The density of soil ranges from maybe 1.2 to 1.5 g/cm3, depending on how wet and compacted it is, which means you should technically float when you, wait ... no, that's not what that means. OK, let's start again. The lever action of your spine when it contacts the ground will cause an excess of torque-pounds to be applied directly to the fulcrum of the tangent integral between your neck and the Earth's magnetic field. In 1954, avant-garde French physicist Sebas-
Did you hit?
Yes! OWWWWWWWW! Wait! I'm alive! OWWWWWWWWW.
What worked? OWWWWWWWWW.
I bored you so much that you went limp. If you were unable to break any of the impact with your legs, simply going limp was the best way to distribute the forces evenly.
Was that the hammer?
No, that missed me. That's strange, isn't it? OWWWWWWWWW.
I really expected that to peg you in the face.
It seemed perfectly set up for that. OWWWWWWWWW.
Didn't it? In comedy writing, that's called a callback.
Thanks for taking this moment of my immense pain to share a bit of your craft with me.
What is it?
The seagull s**t on my head. OWWWAUUUUUUUGH.
There it is.
What do I do now? OWWWAUUUUUUUGROSSS.
Well, in keeping with the ancient tradition, I suppose I should say Congratulations! You're now no longer falling from a ladder! Should you desire any further guidance, please consult our guide, So Your Hair and Organs Are All Messed Up.
(In all seriousness? Go to a hospital, friend.)
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and did actually fall off a ladder this weekend, so if you see any spelling mistakes, there's your reason. You can send your condolences to him care of Facebook or Twitter.
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