The Wit of the Staircase

 Bill Bryson, in his new book At Home: A Short History of Private Life , gives several pages of startling statistics on the most dangerous place in the house (and the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States, behind car accidents but ahead of shark bites, flesh-eating viruses, and impalement) and if you guessed the kitchen or the bathroom, you are wrong . .. the most dangerous spot in your house is the stairs (and if you've seen the excellent documentary series The Staircase then you may have known this already) but I find this paradoxical because having stairs in your house is good for your heart and heart disease is the leading killer among men and women in the United States . . . so do you live in a ranch and miss out on the benefits of walking up and down stairs every day . . . or do you risk mishaps and live dangerously . . . I don't know the answer, but mainly what I wish is that we had an English word for this French phrase: 'esprit d'escalier, which generated the plot of a fantastic Seinfeld episode.

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