At some point in life, and for some of us, often, we trip.  I don’t mean a little stumble and recover that barely anyone notices but sends a flush to your face nonetheless, but an all out fall flat on your face or behind kind of trip.  In front of everyone.  When something important is happening.  And all eyes are on you. 

And sometimes it isn’t a standing up or walking or running trip, but a seated trip, as in I was just sitting there and suddenly….

Some recover with grace and quick comebacks, everyone laughs and the show goes on.  The trip doesn’t become the highlight but rather a funny moment.  I’m just not one of those people. 

One of my first trips that I can remember is bounding from the steps of our trailer (yep, we lived in a trailer in my grandparent’s front yard!) after walking inside and seeing someone standing there.  I was so afraid that I forgot to step down and tumbled to the ground…but I did get up running. 

I’m the kid who, during our promenade in our Easter bonnets (think deep South) around the school yard, tripped while trying to avoid the egg that had fallen off someone else’s bonnet and propelled myself in the backend of the music teacher whose name I have forgotten but who sternly and loudly reprimanded me for the remainder of our promenade. 

At the age of sixteen or seventeen I was a “beauty contestant” for a local contest.  Unbeknownst to me, every other girl in the contest was in it for real.  I brought one little bag with my clothing changes; they each had several bags, some had professional make up and hair people, most had moms or publicists.  By the time I realized I didn’t share their dreams, we were practicing for the show.  It seemed pretty simple – line up and go to the top of the stairs; when the girl in front of you gets to the exit stairs, follow the yellow line to the first square, stop and pose; follow the line to the microphone square and say your name and city; follow the line to the last square, turn and smile again for the photographer and crowd; take the arm of the attendant and go down the stairs and out.  This had to be cake!  What was all the fuss about?  We practiced twice through and then raced to get into our evening gowns.

We lined up for our turns and when I reached the top stair I realized they had NOT practiced this properly.  With a zillion ultra bright lights spotlighting the area I couldn’t even SEE the yellow lines on the stage, much less the itsy bitsy yellow box they called a square.  And then it happened.  My left eye started to twitch so that it looked like I was furiously batting my lashes.  Then my left upper lip took up the rhythm and now it looked like I was batting and semi-snarling.   I could see absolutely nothing but bright white light and grayish spots and had no idea which way the stage even went. 

“Next!” Hissed the reed-thin dragon woman who had counted us off several times, repositioned us for the photo shoots, lectured us about “authenticity”, and pinched everyone’s cheeks much too hard. 

As the words “I can’t…” were being formed the girl behind me pushed me onto the stage and I…tripped.  My right eye  joined my left eye but they twitched in disharmony and my left upper lip increased its spasm to a imitate a pretty serious snarl.  And I couldn’t see the line!  I couldn’t see the square!  I heard my name and blindly flailed in that direction running right into the microphone stand that I grabbed (oh, no, we never touch the microphone stand!) and said “I’m ….”  I have no idea who.  I finally said my name but I had no idea where I lived because the spots were getting bigger so the announcer guy added  that for me.  Loathe to let go of the microphone stand I caught movement between the flutters of the my left eye and headed in that direction blindly focused on the thought that somewhere, if I kept looking down, I’d see another square as my cue to turn and smile, er, snarl for the camera. 

Just before I hit the edge of the stage the attendant, a young man in military dress, grabbed my elbow and without further ado propelled me to the stairs where I was met by dragon lady who scolded me and told me I was done.  Thank God!  I then tripped the rest of the way down the stairs still seeing spots as the other girls stared at me in disdain and disbelief.  Where’d they get this one?

Walking on the sidewalk when about eight months pregnant I tripped over a rock so small that the police officers who were with me at the time (we were viewing the house abandoned in the middle of the night by neighbors) cast each other looks that said I may have been in on some of the stuff going down at that house.

My role in a wedding was to take the unity sand from the ceremony site and down the steps where it would be placed  on a table at the reception.  Good thing it was already blended because my feet wouldn’t work in sync and I did a crazy little five step number before falling face first, but sand jar held high and safe, just a little more mixed,  into the grass, my dress only halfway up my torso.   

Walking back from getting a soda at work one day I tripped and went flying forward in my brand new white bo-ho beachy skirt, landing in the pavement and putting an ugly layer of pavement deep into my knee and leg.  Everyone tried to find what I had tripped on and finally decided the levels were a bit uneven in that one place I walked.  That was after the laughter stopped.

Sitting in a chair at work one day I made a sudden expressive movement during a meeting and went sideways out it and onto the ground.  And once I actually went to sit in a car and missed, landing in the door frame.  And that was in the daylight…and no, I was not drinking.

Grace is not my middle name. 

I trip over tables at knee level, run into edges and corners, forget there are edges and corners to walls, back into door knobs or the ends of open doors.  And yes, I do have bad vision, thank you.

I think I come by this naturally, though.  Several years back my mother stepped out her front door onto the porch that was a bit damp from rain.  She was talking at the time and all of a sudden she seemed to go forward, then backward, then forward, then backward, her feet, legs, arms and hands swinging in every direction until she lifted entirely off the steps and propelled forward in mid-air to land sprawling.  If we had taped it we’d have surely won on that funny videos show. 

A lovely friend who managed to have her own trip over a glass-topped table in a hotel lobby a couple of years ago, leaving me dying of laughter and consumed with guilt for doing so as I attempted to assess her injuries, has the best answer to these moments in life when you’ve embarrassed yourself with a trip and can do nothing about it. 

She says, “That was some trip – should’ve followed the map.”

But it’s the scenic routes that are so much more memorable…ouch.

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