As a child of the 70s and 80's, I grew up with different types of music. 

Cher...Janis Joplin...Neil Diamond.

But the song, "Knock Three Times" from Tony Orlando and Dawn hit me on the head recently.


The thing is, is that much like Humpty Dumpty,

I had a great fall. 

Although, I wasn't sitting on a wall like some vagabond. 

No, nothing like that.

I was heading down the stairs at a nice restaurant in Tirana when my foot slipped.

And in a panic, I slid down the steps reaching for handrails that didn't exist.

I only broke my fall when my head hit the stairs

projecting a loud thud.

All the waiters scrambled to the stairway to find me on my back.

Me mumbling, "I should have stayed home today."

My friend Bledi later said this happened because I was about to leave Albania and the good ol' Shqiperia (the Albanian word for Albania) wanted to remind me how much it cared.

I didn't get it.

He explained that in Albania, a mother-in-law will knock her new daughter-in-law's head against the door of her new home three times to remind her she has a new family.

I told him that I would have settled for a handshake.

Anyway, I ended up at the University Trauma Hospital.

A police officer approached me at the receptionist desk wanting details.

I explained to him in my broken Albanian, that in fact, no one had pushed me.  

This was all me.

My poor husband was a trooper throughout the whole thing.

At one point, the security guard didn't let him back into the hospital. 

He can't speak Albanian and even if he could, same-sex marriage isn't legal here.

But with the help of our friend Rachel, who translated and advocated for me, after 3 hours, I got a CT Scan.  

And after another 3 hours of waiting....watching people in really bad shape come in by helicopter, ambulance, private car, and taxi (that was me), the doctor said I was ready to go home.

I consider myself lucky, though.

I was able to get up right after my fall. 

I was coherent. 

I could put together complete sentences.  This doesn't always happen.

Although, I was bummed that I didn't have any superhero powers. 

I wanted it to be like in the movies where I could shoot lightning from my fingers 

or levitate and fly to save money on plane tickets.

But no, still an ordinary mortal.

So, what does this have to do with the song, "Knock Three Times?"

In the song, the lyric reads, "Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me..."

Was this latest fumble Albania's way of saying that it wanted me?

Then I remembered that I already had two "knocks" on my list.

The first two were minor in comparison, but still unpleasant.

The first one occured when I was using a soap dispenser at a hotel near Skanderbeg Square and the rusted lid popped off, cutting three of my fingers.  

Did you know that in Albania only state hospitals carry the tetanus vaccine? 

I did not know this.

I managed to locate a sympathetic doctor who wrote a prescription.

"Since you are American, I will write it.  I do not think you need it.  In Albania, we only provide this injection once during childhood."

So now, I had to find a pharmacy that carried the magical serum. 

Not all of them do. 

I found one on my second try, purchasing the vaccine and syringe. 

Then in my broken Albanian, I explained to the nurse what had happened.

The second knock was when my husband, our friend Jennifer, and I were sitting on a balcony overlooking Tirana, getting ready to take a picture.

Jennifer decided to move her chair to get a better angle, and the chair leg came straight down on my toe.

Searing, blinding, hot white pain shot through me that resulted in the best photo I had ever taken. 

My eyes were open (They never are. I always look stoned.)

And I was smiling.   

Otherwise, my voice would have thundered up to Mt. Dajti shaking the tram gondolas along the way. 

To this day, Jennifer asks me how my toe is, I tell her that it's a good thing toes can't speak. 

So, yes, Albania.  You have me.  

I'm just grateful the song is titled "Knock Three Times" and not "Four". 

                         Knock Three Times


                                    July 24, 2023