Just When You Think That It Can’t Possibly Get Any Worse . . .

People Falling Down by Maniac World 

This Is Why My Mother Did Not Name Me Grace

tortoise-on-its-back-by-joe-carroll-and-world-of-stock1My recent physical lows hit an all-time high today: I tripped down the stairs going into the garage and landed on one knee with my left foot twisted awkwardly beneath me. I’m blaming it on Tillie the lab as she was gamboling in front of me on the way down.

So I am currently sporting an ace bandage around my left ankle, and a wrist brace on my left wrist as that has begun to throb as well.

Corey’s first question was if I had hurt my back. Believe it or not, that’s the part of my body that hurts the least at the moment. Small favors.

“My friend, you are not graceful—not at all; your gait’s between a stagger and a sprawl” ~ Ambat Delaso about tortoises

yogaI was not always this clumsy. In fact, when I was a teenager, I cheered, which required a certain amount of grace and agility. I have practiced yoga, which gave me great flexibility. And as a youth, one of my favorite things to do was to climb trees. I swear that I never fell out of a tree.

I skied quite well and never took a major tumble, a few minor ones here and there. And believe it or not, I have never broken a bone, just a few sprains. I also studied ballet, granted not for long as it is one of those things that you can assess your natural abilities for fairly quickly. It was good exercise, but I was never going to dance Swan Lake.

So what’s up with my increasing stumbling in recent years? I’m assuming that it’s related to my back surgery and my other ailments. But I have to tell you, it’s not a very attractive trait to have.

“She was terrified of tripping and falling” (about Gloria Swanson playing Norma Desmond descending the stairs)

My fall today brought to mind some of the more famous clumsy people I have watched and known. I’ll never forget when Carol Burnett played Norma Desmond on her show. Burnett descended that curving staircase with such feigned grace that I was sure that she was going to make falling part of the act, but she did not.

chevy-chase-and-gerald-ford-by-david-hume-kennerlyAnother one of my favorite physical comics has to be Chevy Chase. His imitations of President Gerald Ford’s clumsiness are what skyrocketed Chase’s career. He carried that tripping and falling routine into his movie career, and few of his movies do not have Chase tripping at least once. 

John Belushi was an incredibly agile comedian. But because of his girth, most people did not expect his gracefulness. Belushi could do hand stands and acrobatics and land perfectly. He could also crash against walls and into furniture in ways that appeared had to cause him injury. But he would bounce back up, literally, unhurt. Of course, the cocaine could have kept him from feeling pain, but he was still great at his craft.

“In life as in dance: Grace glides on blistered feet” ~ Alice Abrams

My former sister-in-law Ann is also very accident prone. I remember that during a school talent show she was in a routine in which the players wore pillowcases over their arms crossed above their heads, giving them the appearance of having short legs. The pillowcases had no eye-holes, so everyone had to be very aware of where they were moving.

Ann finished the entire routine without any problem. However, when it came time to leave the stage, she walked forward instead of to the side. As a result, she landed in the orchestra pit below the stage. Major ouch. I can’t remember, but I think that she broke her arm.

slicing-tomatoesWhen the two of us are together, we tend to bring out the clumsiness in each other; it seems that one of us always ends up with an injury whenever we are in proximity of each other. Last summer during one of the outdoor family gatherings, we both tripped and fell on her deck (at different points during the day). I survived with only a minor bruise on one leg. Ann, on the other hand, ended up with a huge bruise, about six inches wide and eight inches long, on her thigh.

Another time, Ann was slicing something, tomatoes I think. She went right past the vegetable and proceeded to cut a deep slice into her hand that required stitches.

” . . . the great art of treading on the brink of the precipice without falling into it.” ~ Giacomo Casanova

For my part, I have had a few interesting accidents that required stitches and trips to the emergency room. Ever since I was a young child, I have hated to wear shoes. I walk barefoot outside most of the time, and when I was a teenager, I rarely went place with my feet clad in anything. One day I was riding my bike with Erica, and of course, I had no shoes on. My soles were so toughened that the rough pedals on the bike did not bother me.

That is, not until I crashed my bicycle into Erica and landed on the street with my bike on top of me. What I did not realize at first is that when I crashed, my foot dug into the peddle and scraped forward (makes me  shudder now to even think about it). This resulted in a very large flap of loose skin on the bottom of my foot.

Together, Erica and I walked the bicycles home, and when I walked in the door, I was bleeding everywhere. That was my first occasion with stitches.

old-diaper-pinAnother time that my disdain of shoes caused me pain was when I was playing tag with my cousins in Great Bridge. We were playing in the field behind my aunt’s house, which was covered with fallen leaves and sticks. I was wearing only a pair of flip flops.

As I was running, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in one foot. I lifted the foot and found an old, rusty diaper pin sticking out of the bottom of my foot. The pin had impaled the shoe and attached it to my foot. I adamantly refused to let anyone pull the pin out, my logic being that if it hurt that much going in, coming out had to be worse.

The diaper pin was pulled out, and I was driven to the doctor to get a tetanus shot.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” ~ Albert Einstein

But undoubtedly one of the most doltish accidents I have ever had was one that I knew in my head was going to happen, but I did it anyway. This one occurred when I was teaching English at Old Dominion University.

I was putting away clean wine glasses on the top shelf of a cabinet, which required me to be on a step stool. A glass fell out of my hand and crashed to the floor, breaking into several large, very sharp-edged pieces.

btoken-glassHave you ever known that you were about to do something stupid, but you just couldn’t stop yourself? That’s what happened in this instance. I looked down at the glass and thought, “I could really cut myself badly if I stepped on that,” because of course, I was not wearing shoes. I then proceeded to step down from the stool right onto a huge piece of glass, cutting a deep, comma-shaped gash into the sole of my foot.

Luckily, by this time there was an urgent care facility fairly close to the house. I wrapped up my foot in a towel and drove to the center. More stitches, but some really good pain pills.

I went back to school with my injured foot in a bandage, and one shoe on. I still vividly remember going into my Technical Writing class and trying to teach the group of engineers that were enrolled in my class. They asked what had happened, and I told them. They were merciless in taunting me, especially after I tried to talk to them and couldn’t form coherent sentences because of the medication.

Of course, there are other incidents, but I think that I have revealed enough about this less than graceful side of myself for now. I think that I’ll go lie down and put some ice on my ankle. I can hardly wait to see what happens next . . .

More later. Peace.