My sister and I are prone to ‘involuntary lie-downs’. We prefer to shun the term ‘faint’ or ‘pass-out’ because they sound distinctly feeble (which we are not: how dare you), and choose instead the far more apt and less flimsy ‘involuntary lie-downs’. It even sounds more professional, which can be helpful if you have to list it on your job applications under the medical section.
Involuntary lie-downs are what occur when we are subjected to peril in any form. That peril can be low blood sugar levels; it may well be a reaction to pain or anything involving a needle or just thinking about it (just off for a lie-down now); or even in sympathy for the pain and peril of others.
Whether or not we are acting independently and due in part to some genetic defect (are you picturing those goats? I flipping knew you were) is tricky to say, since it is always a possibility that we are sympathising with the other in a ‘now what would H—– do in this situation?’ sort of a way. In fact, since she started it, I could claim to only ever be doing it in sympathy.
Whilst the youngest of us sisters three excelled at collecting ‘I bumped my head’ letters at school (I think she liked the picture?), my older sister and I have a lifelong competition in orange chair incidents. Yes, you know. We all know. The orange wheelchair that lurks, folded up behind the door in the school nurse’s office, ready to pounce should anyone go in for an involuntary lie-down. It was almost as if the embarrassment of slinking down the person next to you with eyes half closed, and face planting on their feet whilst still stood in the injection queue was not quite enough in the embarrassment stakes. Coming round whilst strapped into the bright orange wheelchair was a real boost for morale (everyone else’s). Being wheeled away is such a grossly passive activity and gives everyone ample chance to view the parade.
And any hope we held for leaving it all behind at school (or even in the country) came to an abrupt face-plant, when I decided to take an involuntary lie-down in an Australian Aquarium. You’ll be glad to know that even over on the very periphery of Queensland, there lives an orange chair, hiding behind the door of the staff room and awaiting someone silly enough to watch a repulsive video about pain from jellyfish stings when they know they are prone to involuntary lie-downs.
In fact, only this week, my sister and I were discussing an incident (neither of us were actually involved) and I knew, without either of us mentioning it, that as she relayed the tale to me and I received it merrily, we were both simultaneously and miles apart, connected only by many miles of phone cord, finding a nice comfy spot closer to the floor should any involuntary activity occur. And you do learn to pre-empt. The other day when I trapped my finger under a pile of shopping baskets and felt the throbbing fan out in waves under the nail bed, I bent down (with some help from the wall) to tie the shoelace on my lace-less pumps. If it’s a choice between the voluntary lie-down and the involuntary lie-down, then I chose voluntary every time, although it is one less tally for the orange chair chart… Who’s winning? I couldn’t possibly say.