There’s a running joke around here relating to staircases. The Dutch word for stairs is trap (pronounced more like trup or in fact somewhere between the two). And it’s a wholly appropriate word. This is a small, overpopulated country – most of which was dredged up out of the sea – so there isn’t a lot of land to go around, and that land happens to be pretty soft and boggy. That leads to tiny shoebox buildings without a lot of spare room in.
That being the case, no one’s going to waste any of that space by installing a nice wide, moderately sloping staircase (in other words, a safe one). Dutch stairways tend to be extremely steep, often spiralling to boot, and narrow. To English-speaking expats/immigrants they are often affectionately known as The Deathtraps. Isn’t that nice?
Now, ours isn’t too bad as these things go. It’s a bit steep and a bit narrow but it isn’t a spiralling death vortex. It has a banister rather than a swaying rope. It has solid steps instead of wooden slats with dizzying gaps in. And thusly I managed to go a little more than a year before it finally got me, a record which I think deserves one point on the scoreboard. Charlotte 1, Trap 0.
My record came to an abrupt halt yesterday afternoon when, at long last, Entrapification occurred.
Luckily I was already most of the way down before I was snared. I heard a predatory chuckle. My foot slipped. I went down the last six or eight of them in way too much of a hurry.
They are quite big stairs, so six or eight was enough to bang myself up a fair bit. This morning I have bruises the size of several small countries all the way down my right side.
Charlotte 1, Trap 1.
But that’s not all! As I sat for a moment catching my breath – mistakenly employing those same traitorous steps as a seat – I swear I heard a murderous chuckle. Even a cackle.
Things hurt. I was kind of surprised at finding myself slumped in an undignified heap at the bottom of the stairs instead of gaily going about my business. I was shaky.
After a minute I had the fuzzy idea that a drink of water might help. That helps, right? Nice cold water. I made it as far as the kitchen; I managed to retrieve a cup, even through a pretty epic headrush. I put water in it. I drank… a bit.
I woke up sometime later, flat on my back all over my kitchen floor, covered in water, with a miraculously unbroken cup lying a few inches from my fingers.
Okay, so standing up at that point hadn’t been such a great idea. Note to future self: blurred vision = Stay The Hell Put, Okay?
The Deathtrap was definitely cackling now. Cackling hellishly. I could hear it as I lay in my most undignified heap yet, waiting for the swimming in my head to stop. I could practically hear it thinking, SCORE! Bonus damage!!
Charlotte 1, Trap 2.
The good part is that I managed to bash up my left side courtesy of the kitchen floor (and possibly other things on the way down), which makes me symmetrically mottled. Matching bruises. That’s much nicer.
I shall now endeavour to get my revenge by not falling down the stairs again for at least another year. Okay? Okay.
(PS: for the record, no lasting damage was sustained by either party during this encounter. I didn’t manage to break the Deathtrap, and it didn’t manage to break me either).