I danced for umpteen years. I gave it up because 1) I didn’t have the talent to take it to the next, professional level and 2) I was tired of the body image issues that came with it, which is ironic since I then picked up track and cross country, sports which also encouraged girls to stay skinny and svelte while the coach relayed statistics on how one could run faster with a pound less of fat, XYZ. So I guess I went from one body obsessed field to another.
I was a pretty good (okay) dancer. And runner. The disciplines required grace, focus, and body control. But the odd thing is that once you removed me from those arenas, I collapsed into a huge clumsy oaf.
I still am. In the every day life, I am the person who accidentally drops things into the nooks and crannies of the sofa. Or sweeps wine glasses off tabletops and says, with a chagrined smile, “Oops!” as I watch them shatter against the floor. If I’m carrying groceries, Murphy’s Law will dictate that I will be the one carrying the bag that rips, spilling stuff everywhere while I stand there confused and then try to help, only to make things worse as I kick onions and potatoes throughout my living room.
Remote controls slip from my grasp, twinkly Christmas lights get inexplicably tangled around my fingers, credit cards fall from my hands as I’m trying to swipe them, and if there is a pavement stone that is not entirely level on the sidewalk, my toes will stub against it and if someone is not there to catch me, I will end up sprawled on the ground. Ungracefully. Awkwardly spread out, arms and legs askew as I try to recover myself with some amount of dignity. Which I never can. Who can? I will then smile and raise a hand to the people around me, signaling, I’m okay! Really! as they gape and try not to laugh. Thanks.
I trip over the shoes I leave lying out on the floor of my house and do a little Kiki-dance while attempting to regain my balance, I bump into every single door frame and pointy corner or edge of a door, table, island, or chair, resulting in bruises along my hips and arms. I wake up some mornings and look in the mirror and gripe, “No, not another bruise!”. Since I fall against things all the time, I no longer remember when I do; I only discover that I have when I spot a black and blue mark on my body. And oh, of course, I bruise like a peach. Someone could poke my arm with a finger and the next day there would be a bruise there. I can even tell when I will bruise, I say it out loud, “Oh, there’s going to be a bruise there tomorrow!”
I actually had to tell my friends when I was married that if anything ever happened to me, that my ex wasn’t physically abusing me. “All those marks on my body is because I’m totally clumsy,” I told them, “He is NOT abusive, I’m just a complete freak when it comes to navigating around my own house.” I had to safeguard my ex against potential allegations of abuse, that is how clumsy I was. And am.
I have to literally and I mean that I do this LITERALLY, say to myself, “Do not drop this glass. Do NOT drop this glass.” as I take it to the coffee table. Or “Stay away from that, do not touch ANYTHING,” when I’m in a store with fragile offerings, such as historic teapots or dainty glass and ceramic figurines, because I am the camouflaged bull in a china shop, I am that kind of person who would stumble over one thing so knock something else over, thus starting an entire chain of events that would entirely wreck all the delicate, beautiful displays in a store.
It is not fun, to be a clumsy oaf. Especially when I’m not huge physically. You would look at me and think, “Oh, small and cute!” and not know that lurking inside is a lumbering hulk who could destroy your home with a single sweep of one tiny finger against the priceless heirloom you inherited from your grandparents.
I have dropped so many glass goblets, pitchers, containers, etc. that I have perfected a method to clean up all those itsy-bitsy shards that you may step on. This is what you do. First, vacuum. Obviously. Next, take a wet paper towel and wipe and then throw it away so none of the glass bits shower down onto the floor. Then, take a flashlight, and shine it across the floor to pick up any flares reflecting from the remaining pieces on the ground. Then, finally, vacuum and wipe again. Then, pray.
See? I have had to craft a cleanup routine to protect me against myself! How crazy is that? But on the behalf of all the clumsy oafs out there, people like me, I have only this defense: we can’t help ourselves. That’s just how we’re built. My mother told me when I was younger, “You’ll grow out of it.” But some of us never do. Sorry!