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Claire Thinking

Some people are more gifted than others at remaining upright. I seem to be in the other, less gifted group.

I don't consider myself to be the clumsy sort. I can walk in heels. I could do gymnastics as a child. I'm a good dancer. And while I'm sure that "grace" isn't the first word people think of when they think of me, neither is "klutz".

Yet somehow, more than one time per year, I find myself rump over teakettle with the accompanying bumps and bruises.

My latest display of walking ineptitude happened as I was carting a rug and a cat carrier down into my basement. My mind clearly on other things, I thought I was at the bottom of the stairs when in fact I still had a couple yet to go.

I stepped off into space, landed on one foot, twisted my ankle, and promptly fell backwards against the wall with a lung clearing "whump!"

When my breath came back and my vision cleared, I found myself in a heap, legs crumpled beneath me, still clutching rug and carrier while my two kittens looked on with mild disinterest and I think a tinge of disappointment.

Clearly they were hoping for more carnage. I'm sure they must have been contemplating which body part they were going to gnaw off first had I been rendered permanently incapacitated.

Slightly damaged, but not to the 911 extreme, I picked myself up and got on with my day - slower and with more caution and a definite limp, but at least I was still moving.

This is my third fall since moving into this house. I've fallen twice down the stairs, and once out of the shower. If I were a few years older, I'm sure my relatives would be considering moving me into some sort of group home or care facility. At the very least, trying to convince me to move into a ranch and signing me up for Lifecall. (I've fallen and I can't get up!)

Falling is not a new thing for me. I seem to do it quite often and not always within the privacy of my home. Sometimes it's quite funny, often times it's painful, and on rare occasions it's like art.

My most spectacular fall was when I was living in an apartment in Richmond Heights and managed to fall backwards out of the shower.

I was turning to rinse my hair when my feet slipped out from beneath me. I fell into the curtain, my arms flung out to my sides to try to catch my balance, my calves pinning the bottom of the plastic liner curtain to the side of the tub. The shower curtain rod, which was one of those spring-loaded types, began to move under my weight. As it slipped down the walls in slow motion, the curtain cupped me in like a large hand, laying me gently on the floor in snow-angel position, my ankles hooked over the edge of the tub.

As I lay on my bathroom floor, staring at the ceiling, I marveled at my landing and my good fortune. I had nary a bump or bruise and had completely missed the toilet and the sink. I couldn't have done that if I was aiming. Someone was watching out for me that day.

I'm not always that lucky - or graceful.

Linoleum flooring, black leather sandals and a leaky car battery were the ingredients for my most embarrassing fall of all, otherwise known as "The Wal-Mart Incident".

First, it has to be asked, why would someone put a used car battery in a box in a shopping cart and leave it in the "greeter" area of a department store? That's just asking for trouble. Enter Trouble (me), who is rushing in to pick up a couple things on her way home from work.

She's looking good in her favorite gray dress slacks, black top and black sandals. That is, until her foot hits the puddle of battery juice which has leaked out onto the floor.

It's amazing how fast after stepping in the goo that my backside made impact with the floor. One moment, I'm happily headed towards a little retail therapy and the next I'm mopping the floor with my derriere.

If only that were the worst of it.

You see, either the impact or the acid - I'm not sure which - had an alarming effect on my pants. They ripped (disintegrated?) right up the back. I didn't know this until I got home.

I didn't know this when I standing in the middle of the store talking to the manager about my fall. I didn't know this as he walked me across the store to the kitchen area so that I could wash the acid off my hands and feet. I didn't know this as I went ahead and finished my shopping. All the while my pants, which were no longer joined at the back, were flashing my bright blue underwear with every step I took.

Thankfully, they have torn down that Wal-Mart so I don't have to ever go back and relive those moments. I hope they have also destroyed the security tapes which I'm sure caught my every move.

I don't know if there is any way to prevent these mishaps. I can't anticipate an acid slick, or a bathmat failure. I was wearing tennis shoes when I fell down the basement steps, so footwear isn't the issue. My center of gravity is about as low as it can go without me being a Weeble.

I don't usually break anything when I fall so I should be grateful for that. Actually, I'm grateful to even be walking.

My hip joints didn't form when I was a baby (hard to imagine that looking at them now) and if my mom hadn't figured out in time that there was a problem, I might have been in a wheelchair instead of having these opportunities to fall.

I do have a bit of a balance problem, but it's not that severe. My biggest problem is that I'm not always mindful of what I'm doing. I get so caught up in what is going on in my head that I forget to watch what my feet are doing.

I'm sure there is another toxic spill, cracked sidewalk, slippery stair, or lumpy carpet that is just waiting to trip me up. I don't think I can prevent myself from falling, but as long as I don't break anything and my underwear doesn't show then I guess that's all right.

My icepacks are chilled and ready.


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