I’ve always longed to be graceful. I always wanted to dance. Tried, as a young adult, with ballet lessons that only lasted a few weeks. My flexibility was laughable, my feet truly terrible, and any modicum of grace? Lacking. Add to that my lanky limbs and pointy elbows and you’ve got someone who should content herself just watching dance movies*. Somehow I stumbled (heh) into a couple of different professions (stage combat and cardio-kickboxing) that require coordination, and I manage well enough. Actual physical elegance, though? Not so much. I trip walking across a flat surface. I shamble across a dance floor. I punch myself in the face when bringing my hands back into guard. I’m clumsy.
Let me share with you a typical day in the life of Clumsy Kel. I had trekked out to a local natural foods store. Despite the fact that everyone there is quite nice and helpful, I’m always daunted. I mustered an air of confidence and made my way to the natural deodorants. After seventeen hours or so of reading labels, I chose two. On the way to the register, I paused to choose a coconut oil-based lip balm. Why had I been daunted? I was nailing this! Riding the wave of buoyed self-esteem, I made an unscheduled stop at the essential oils. Tucking the deodorants and lip balm into the crook of my arm, I started pulling testers. Maybe it was the combined scents of patchouli, lemongrass, and rosemary. Maybe it was my sense of suddenly, beautifully, belonging in such a place. I relaxed my arm. Everything fell to the floor: one lip balm, nigh incapable of doing any damage, and two natural deodorants, unexpected sources of destruction. One bounced harmlessly. The other hit a vial of lavender oil, knocking it to the tile floor, with a terrible shattering sound.
I winced. Forced myself to look down. For a wonder, the glass vial was intact. The plastic screw cap had cracked and exploded, but the stopper portion was still in the bottle. I swept up the shrapnel with my hands as best I could, and offered to pay for the damage, but the lovely people at the store assured me it was no big deal. Inside, they might have been wondering, “Who breaks a bottle with deodorant?” but to me they were all kindness. I was grateful. I was out of there.
Next stop was the grocery store. It was a big stock-up kind of trip: three kinds of salad greens, heaps of fresh vegetables, hummus, salmon, ground turkey, healthy pasta… only as I reached for a box of angel hair, it fell to the floor, breaking the seal on the cardboard. I could’ve just put it back on the shelf, but who does that? Better to hand it in and say, “Apologies, mate. This is now unsellable. You’re welcome. “ So, I put it at the front of my cart where I would most certainly remember to hand it to the cashier.
Fast forward half an hour. Shopping was done, and I was unloading my cart. My mind was on sorting items for maximum bagging efficiency, not on pesky details of my previous travels through the aisles. You know where this is going. Oh, how I wish you’d been with me! I picked up the pasta. The cardboard let loose. Here’s a fun fact. Dry capellini does not simply fall straight down. Oh, no. The force of air against it causes it to shift and twist and spear through the openings of a shopping cart to amass in a pile akin to Nightmare Jenga.
I froze. The cashier froze. Time itself froze.
Then, it was all action. The cashier flipped the checkout light to flash a distress signal. A manager appeared as if by magic. “What happened?” she said, or maybe thought straight into my brain. “How do you even clean this up?” the manager said, or asked telepathically. I was having a lot of feelings at this moment, you guys. Foremost was that this was my chance to come clean, simply confess that I dropped the box, the cardboard came loose, I totally forgot until just this moment. Instead, I said, “Gosh. I don’t know!” I continued to fling groceries onto the conveyor, taking occasional breaks to unwittingly hamper the manager’s attempt to clean up slippery, skittering strands. All through the unloading, the bagging, the ringing up, my inner voice kept admonishing me to tell the truth. “I drop things,” is all I had to say. “ I drop things all the time and this one I dropped twice. I am clumsy and something of a terrible person because I’m hiding actual facts from you kindly folk.” Instead, I said, “I’m only fifty dollars from my holiday ham? Thanks! Best wishes!” I ducked my head, pushed the cart into the chill spring afternoon, and headed to my car to unload my bags.
While opening the back door, I accidentally smacked myself.
*and I do! Center Stage is amazing in its terribleness. Strictly Ballroom is perfection, and I will hear no differently. Mad Hot Ballroom makes me weep; so amazing. Period movies are the best; Regency Era dances make me swoon. Ice Skating movies also fall under this category. Toe pick!