When I was seven years old, both of my school best friends were in ballet classes. (I say school best friends because when you’re seven, you have categories of best friends, or at least I did. School best friends, church best friends, neighborhood best friends, etc.) Of course I begged my mom to let me take ballet classes, too. So, the next fall, she signed me up. I’m sure she expected it to be a short-lived thing, but bless her for letting me try it. I ended up taking ballet (and other dance) classes until I graduated high school. Basically, I had steady dance instruction for ten years.
And I am still one of the clumsiest people alive.
I fall down. A lot. I get random bruises for which I cannot determine a source. I trip, I bonk, I bash CONSTANTLY. Really, it’s a wonder I’m still alive. My best friend’s favorite story about me is the time I was walking toward her in an icy parking lot, waving my hands above my head (both to get her attention and by way of greeting) and I suddenly disappeared from view behind a parked truck. Or rather, underneath a parked truck. She still gets the giggles describing how I suddenly popped back in to view with my hands over my head and shouted, “I’m okay!” I could also tell you about the time I fell down the stairs with a baby in my arms, the time I broke my nose chasing my best friend through the house, or the time I tore the pad of my thumb open trying to get my bra hooked.
For a time in college, I worked in the loan department of a local bank. Now, a bank is not usually considered a dangerous work environment, aside from the remote possibility of a robbery. But I managed to turn it into one. In the first three months of working there, I had two pretty serious falls along with other minor, random bruising. It got to be such a common occurrence that my coworkers started questioning my ability to, you know, walk. I made the mistake of telling one of them that actually, I was could be quite coordinated, as I took dance classes for all those years and never once fell on stage. (I didn’t mention the falls during classes, of which there were…a few.) So from then on, whenever I would do something klutzy, she would respond with, “But you’re a dancer, right?” It has morphed in to something of a catch phrase for my life. Trip over the cat? “I’m a dancer!” Slip on the ice? “I’m a dancer!” Knock over my water glass at dinner? “I’m a [wet] dancer!”
When I start a new job, my family takes bets on how long it will be before I fall down at work. I was doing just fine in this job for the first six months. Then, in the beginning of July, I met a customer at her property for work-related business. As we were walking around the property, I caught my foot in a hole that her dog had dug in the grass. I went down hard but really wasn’t hurt at all. My customer was embarrassed that the dog had left holes and I was embarrassed that I fell, but it really wasn’t any big deal. Until I got up and went to brush myself off. And came away from the back of my pants with a hand full of dog poo. Leave it to me to fall in the one spot the pooper-scooper people had missed when they came through earlier that day. The customer was mortified and ran in to the house to find something to clean me up with. So at this point, not only was I covered in dog poo, but now a stranger was wiping at my butt with a sponge full of cleaning solution. I had to completely rinse out my jeans when I got back to work, then traipse across the work site in front of the guys with half of my tush soaking wet. “Oh, no big deal, I’m just a dancer, having a crappy day!”
Exactly one week later, I was working with a customer outside. His truck was parked on a (slight) incline with a (small) embankment on one side. As I circled around the back of his truck and headed down the embankment, something happened and I lost my footing. I twisted my left ankle and landed hard on my right knee and right hand. The ankle was probably sprained (although I never had it checked), the knee bruised spectacularly, and my right hand was pretty beat up from catching myself on asphalt. Almost everyone I work with saw me fall and still make comments about me watching my step.
The first week, my thought was, “I fell in dog poop and I stink, but at least I’m not hurt.” The second week, my thought was, “I’m in quite a lot of pain, but at least I didn’t fall in dog poop.” I suppose it’s all about perspective. I just know I’m not going dancing on that ankle any time soon.