I was born a klutz. When I was in second grade, I came up with the bright idea to carry my little sister piggyback around our front yard. As I staggered around the yard, I looked like a cross between a drunk and a cowboy who had just been shot during a gunfight at the OK Corral. I finally landed—unfortunately not on my feet—on our cement driveway with my sister on top of my arm. Six weeks later, the cast on my arm was removed, allowing me the complete freedom to once again to injure myself.
One afternoon a few months later, my mother arrived home from the grocery store. In my excitement to play outside, I sprinted through the house to the back door. Reflecting back on that moment now, I realize I probably shouldn’t have been running a 440-meter race while wearing clunky snow boots. Seconds later, I looked like I was attempting to slide into second base during a baseball game. Before I closed my eyes and waited for the impact, I noticed my body was heading straight toward the dining room table. That is where my mother found me a few minutes later, my snow boots askew on my feet as I writhed in pain clutching my left ring finger which had hit the dining room table leg at an approximate speed of 30 mph. Six weeks later, the cast on my left ring finger was removed, allowing me the complete freedom to once again injure myself.
One day a year later, while walking to our back yard, I stumbled and reached out with my right hand to catch myself. My hand landed, palm down, on top of a trash can that, unbeknownst to me, was filled with burning trash. Six weeks later, the cast on my right hand was removed, allowing me the complete freedom to once again injure myself.
My mother tried her best to transform me from a klutz to a graceful ballerina. After she signed me up for ballet lessons, I became uncharacteristically dizzy during a series of turns and pirouetted myself directly into a wall. During the recital, I tripped over my tutu that had somehow crept down around my ankles during a kick line, and caused a chain reaction fall that the dance teachers are still talking about to this day. Six weeks later, I was “released” from dance class to pursue other creative opportunities.
Since my failed foray into the world of dance, I continued to experience many klutzy moments. I rode my brand new bicycle straight into the side of a car when my bell-bottoms became stuck in my chain. In junior high, I successfully tottered around the school in my wooden platform shoes until one unfortunate day when I slipped by the water fountain and fell to the ground, chucking the fourteen books I was clutching in my arms down the hallway like bowling balls.
As an adult, things didn’t get much better. While jogging outside, I slipped on a rock in the street and fell, spraining my ankle. Six weeks later, the boot was removed, allowing me the complete freedom to once again injure myself. And I did. While vacationing in Arizona, I climbed a huge rock, looked down from the top, and realized I had no way to get back down except to jump. I leaped and subsequently limped for six weeks while gaining a whole new respect for the balls of my feet. Once when the dog took me for a walk, I fell, ripped my favorite pair of jeans, and acquired the kind of scar on my kneecap that makes people wince when they see it.
So, on a recent evening when I managed to somersault from the third step on my staircase all the way to the bottom without sustaining a single serious injury, I brushed myself off, covered my rug burn with a Band-Aid, and celebrated. “I think I’m getting pretty good at falling,” I said to my husband during dinner that night.
He shook his head, “Don’t get overly confident,” he replied. “You have such a great reputation.”
And so I do, I thought to myself as I accidentally tried out for the United States Olympic ice skating team the other morning in the gym parking lot. Unfortunately, I hear I didn’t make the team, but you should have seen my double axel, double toe-loop combination. It was beautiful and in six weeks when my cast is removed, I’m going to try it again. Mark my words.