The Ground on Which This Clumsy Mortal Treads

It’s a good thing that my parents didn’t think to name me Grace because the irony would just have been hilariously heartbreaking. I’ve long accepted that I’m a spastic klutz. Sometimes, I don’t even have to move to injure myself. I’m definitely one of those people. You know. The kind that invite injury simply by standing innocently out of harm’s way. Harm inadvertently spots us and makes a special detour. We are hit — hard — by flying balls in gym class, even if the volleyball or basketball game is two courts over. We are dive-bombed by defecating birds, leaving streaks of their droppings on our hair. We are sought out by rascal canines so they can raise their leg to blast a stream of their urine on us.

If we’re not safe while just standing and minding our own business, you should definitely alert the paramedics when we start walking. Stones or pieces of pavement rise from the ground to trip us. I, in particular, really have this propensity for stumbling and slipping. And spilling and dropping things. My butterfingers are legendary. You definitely should think twice before handing me something fragile.

It’s not only that I’m naturally clumsy; I also tend to be absent-minded. That’s just a bad combination, but I can’t help it. That excuse won’t fly anymore now that I’m a mother. Naturally, I’ve become really obsessively careful about the steps I take and how I hold things. I’ve never dropped any of my babies, but I did manage an epic trip while holding my firstborn when she was only three months old. I dropped to the floor, but managed to keep the baby from hitting anything. I sprained my ankle so bad that I had to wait for somebody to help me sit up. Any movement had been unbearably painful.

The last time I tripped, it was at a party at my neatnik friend’s house. I thankfully wasn’t holding any of my children, but I did jostle my husband’s arm which was attached to a hand that was holding a glass of red wine. After the horrified shriek from our hostess and a semi-successful remedy using white wine, everybody started laughing and reminiscing about that wedding where I stumbled when my heel got stuck in a hole in the ground and I ended up shoving a bridesmaid so hard she ended up spread-eagled on a table. Thankfully, dinner hadn’t been served yet. Or how about that exhibit opening where my smooth-bottomed shoes sent me slipping and sliding on the gleaming marble floor? I’m notorious. I bet event organizers have a code word for me. They call each other, saying, “Heads up. Spaz Girl will be attending your shindig. Make sure your venue is accident-proof and that there are no fires and sharp objects in the vicinity. Call No Fuss Event Hire for appropriate ground protection.”

I could be insulted, but I might as well just be grateful. I’m a menace; what can I do? Any help in stopping the ground from plotting to bring me down would always be appreciated.