Falling Down – A Case Study in Grace
Posted by kitkat37
There are a couple of names that my parents contemplated bestowing upon me. I think the ever popular Jennifer was one of them. I know you almost came this close to addressing yours truly as Elizabeth. Funny, however, that “Grace” wasn’t on that list. I do know both of my parents have a glorious sense of humor, and that name attached to my birth certificate would have sent anyone I know to the ER for rupturing their spleen due to uncontrollable laughter. Seriously, my parents would have been known as the greatest serial killers since Jack the Ripper. Cat is ironic enough – aren’t they supposed to at least land on their feet?
The ability to do two things at once – as in, walk and breathe – doesn’t come naturally to my mother’s side of the family. My grandmother was the picture of Hollywood elegance and beauty. Every man in Allen County back in the day fought to get her attention. And I’m sure she certainly had theirs…particularly when she would run face-first into a doorjamb. My mother is dealing with her second broken foot due to her cat – first from tripping over a root to catch him, and currently because he walked in front of her wrong. So she says. Only my mother and Max know the true Behind the Music on that one.
And then you have me. At least Grandmama and Mother had and have the prudence to keep their lack of physical polish safely contained, for the most part, in the privacy of their own homes. Leave it to Cat to find the most publicized, locally and nationally beloved landmarks and events in which to display my magnificent klutziness. It all began when I was five years old and took a superb swan dive into an orchard pond on a kindergarten field trip in Louisville. I’m sure it looked amazing to all involved: “Miss Judy, isn’t that the skinny girl with the blonde Dorothy Hamill, flailing around wildly in the mud by the pond? Oh! There she goes.”
High school wasn’t any better. Bloodied my knee on homecoming night in downtown Atlanta, to the delight of corporate suits and major rap stars? Check. Ran smack into a glass sliding door at my stepfather’s family reunion in front of half of Lithonia? Check. Ate linoleum in the South Gwinnett commons area where everyone gathered my senior year before classes started? Check. How I lived into my twenties is beyond me. Surely I must have evaded death a ridiculous number of times, a la “Final Destination” – I’m sure I was a prime candidate for accidentally mixing two important elements together from the periodic table in chem class – like francium and helium or whatever – and instantly disintegrating myself like something off of a bad Saturday night Syfy Network movie. Of course, I would make sure to trip over the lab stool first before stumbling headlong into oblivion.
At least in college I learned to have a sense of humor about it. My roommate Ivey used to call me whenever she took a tumble. She thought it was the greatest thing since taquitos.
Ring ring! “Hello?”
“Cat? This is Ivey.”
“Aren’t you at work?”
“Cat, I fell down! Hahaha!”
“That’s awesome. Don’t you work at Blimpie next to a five-foot automatic meat slicing device?”
“Yes! But I FELL DOWN! Bwahahaha!”
Luckily, Ivey is still with us. She doesn’t call me every time she falls down anymore. She may not have enough minutes on her phone.
The gracefulness only improved in my twenties…at least in the sense that the publicity with which I fell gained importance. You see, someone with my physical skills is much more suited in a relaxed career field, as in one where you sit in a cube and don’t move until you have to or else your bladder may explode. But not me. Nope, this cosmopolitan social butterfly had to pick one of the most locally high profile jobs known to mankind. Radio – aka, spending gads of high-quality time with famous rock stars who are too high to know they should help you up and not point and laugh hysterically. Case in point: Hanging out at the side of the stage while Velvet Revolver was playing to a crowd of thousands. Yes, Velvet Revolver with Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses, who happened to be performing within ten feet of me. I felt the most appropriate place for a klutz such as myself to stand would be the set of six speakers pushed together to form a podium at stage right. So that’s where I planted myself. I moved off to the side at one point to talk to a roadie, and as I returned to where I had been standing, another – well meaning, I’m sure *ahem* – roadie took the speaker I had been using to another location. Why, I don’t know. Maybe he’d seen me bite it in the gravel parking lot and knew this was a golden opportunity to achieve his dream of winning America’s Funniest Home Videos. Either way, it was dark, and the supportive speaker I had been situated on was no longer situated in its previous location. So there I went, down for the count, face first onto the hardwood – within ten feet of Slash. Who just looked down at me and then continued his awesome guitar solo, which I’m sure was great but I couldn’t hear over the constant ringing in my ears. Alcohol? Not a bit. My only vice that night had been Mountain Dew. And if that were responsible for klutziness, the entire eastern half of Kentucky would be experiencing violent fluctuations in gravity right about now.
And then there was the time I thought slick flip-flops in the marble greatness that is Nashville’s Parthenon was a great idea. Yes, my dear readers, Greece isn’t the only city that plays home to a big shiny marble and gold replica of a mythical pagan goddess. Nashville may be a city steeped in southern Baptists and country music stars, but nothing spells Southern fried like a life sized model of the Athens Parthenon, complete with a 40-foot-tall statue of Athena. And of course, with my love of all things tacky, I had to take millions of pictures of this awesomeness. As I was skipping away in my innocent delight of having captured photos of what may be the greatest thing since Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg, I completely forgot about the huge marble staircase one must descend after paying respects to Athena – and down I went, all 26 large slick marble stairs, somehow slaloming on the way to dodge other redneck tourists like myself, with my friend Jerry tailing after me shouting “Are you okay?” When I finally came to my ultimate resting place at the base of the stairs, I could only say one thing: “Please tell me someone caught that on their phone video camera.”
Seriously, Chris Hardwick needs to put that on Web Soup. It may be my only chance to profess my undying devotion!
We won’t even discuss the office formal Christmas party, when Atlanta thermometers dropped to subzero temperatures while 200 of my closest colleagues and I, decked out in our holiday finest, toasted our myriad achievements in heated comfort at one of the finest restaurants in Midtown. As I walked to my car, my legs, immediately upon contact with the frigid air, decided to betray my trusting self and went numb, thus plummeting me in my cocktail finery over the stone wall just outside the restaurant in front of all of Piedmont Park while my illustrious coworkers watched in awe as my dress flew up over my perfectly coiffed head. Yes, we won’t discuss that. Or my permanently scarred knees.
So I bit it in front of my kindergarten class in Louisville. I bit it on the streets of downtown Atlanta, and in my high school cafeteria. I bit it in front of Lithonian rich people, and right in front of, um, Slash. And I bit it on the stairs of the Nashville Parthenon. Maybe I was attempting to sacrifice myself for Athena. Who knows. All I know is that while my grandmother and my mother at least manage to keep their physical grace safely contained in their own homes, I pick important rock stars and Greek goddesses to perform for. I’m surprised I haven’t wound up on Spike TV’s “1000 Ways to Die.”
So now as I sit here, nursing the purple bruise quickly growing to the size of a remote Midwestern state (due to the glorious swan dive I took in Asheville’s Biltmore Park this weekend), I have to wonder if it’s genetics or if one of my relatives in Scandinavia long ago severely agitated a Viking or something. “You, Sven Osbern, tripped and knocked a hole into my great Viking ship! And there isn’t even any ice! Now we must pillage and plunder in our own country! I call upon to Odin to curse all subsequent Osberns to trip and fall down in front of people of great significance!”
I suppose if we’re ever hanging out, you should maybe bring a crash helmet for me. Of anyone in Bowling Green, I’ll be the one to plunge face-first into an oncoming sinkhole or get knocked unconscious by an airborne toilet during an F-3 tornado. Or I just trip over air particles. Don’t even ask the people in the Dillard’s shoe department about my aversion to propped-up floor mirrors. At least that time Slash wasn’t around.