That ONE Fall That Will Haunt Me Forever

This was on my birth certificate.
This was on my birth certificate.
I am a klutz. I own this. I celebrate this. I revel in this. If I fall? I don’t get embarrassed. I laugh and make sure everyone around me knows that this is a genetic condition I have lovingly passed on to my children. I also qualify that they got other gifts to counterbalance it – like athleticism or grace – whereas I’m just a klutz.

Do I embarass over this? Nope. Not even deep down inside. If I fall in public (which is often) or do something klutz like bash my head with a plate from a bar in BodyPump class (which I did yesterday) – I just smile and laugh knowingly. Nothing to be embarrassed about.

But I wasn’t always so in touch with this part of my existence. While I’ve always been mostly okay with it, and had friends growing up who accepted it as part of my personality, there was one fall back in 10th grade that I still have nightmares about.

Sophomore year. I had my first “real” boyfriend. The first boy who I was convinced I loved and could easily see myself spending forever with. You know the one. We all had one, right?

Anyway…we had a basketball team at my very small high school. And maybe he played? At least JV? I don’t know. Those details aren’t important. I just remember I was dressed up because I was keeping stats that night (WHAT? It was a small high school! Everyone had a job!) and I remember wearing black suede flats with little gold pieces on the top. The love of my life and I walked in the back door of the gym and went to cross the gym with the teams beginning to warm up. The gym wasn’t full, but there were plenty of people in there who I was trying to be dignified around. INCLUDING THE LOVE OF MY LIFE.

So, we’re walking across the gym, not holding hands (we weren’t that couple, had we been I might have been spared), and those stupid suede flats slipped on the high-gloss court and BAM! on my ass in front of two basketball teams warming up for a game.

IT WAS AWFUL. The embarrassment I felt was still so vivid that I often still feel a little residual dread when I remember it.

Do you have any of those? Those ultra-embarrassing moments that – if they happened today, wouldn’t faze you – but when you recall them you still quake in shame? Even if they are decades in your past?

14 Comments

  • Susan Phelan

    Yeah, I had a fall like that. Only mine was over a balcony at a Red Cross Leadership camp in the 8th grade while new friends, including Bill Kirkland – a guy that I had a sweet and major crush over – watched in disbelief.

    Well, I didn’t exactly fall over the balcony, since I was sitting on the railing preparing to jump off the balcony onto the grass about 10 feet below, but I lost my balance and rather than let go and fall on my head, I held on and spun around on the balcony railing by my hands and my knees, and my face slammed into the concrete balcony floor.

    Still I didn’t let go. No one could help me really since no one could reach me. I don’t remember how I got up from that position, hanging upside down by my knees and my hands like a gymnast on a bar with my face molded to the slab of concrete, but I do remember wandering down the the dormitory hall with a bloody (and chipped) nose, being taken down to the local ER, and finally allowed by the camp leaders and my parents to return for the last day and a half of the week-long camp.

    I wore sunglasses to cover my blackening eyes and was the talk of the town. Still, Bill held my hand the last night there. It was a fall, and a crush, I’ll never forget.

  • Laura

    How did you bash yourself in the head with a plate in BodyPump? Let me guess…shoulder track, those overhead arm raise things with a plate in each hand?

    • Anna

      I was thinking overhead tri-cep extensions (is that what they are called?) where you bring the bar towards your forehead? I’ve whackd myself before doing those! 😀

  • Susan

    Many of them, certainly, but there are other things to discuss this morning. Kim, Google is killing Reader! It’s going away on July 1! Are you panicking and freaking out like me? Oh, the humanity! At least they gave me 18 months’ notice about iGoogle. This is just so sudden. Boo! Please tell me which feed reader you decide to switch to. I’d love to know.

  • Still Playing School

    For some reason, the bras that I wore in high school had little padded inserts in them. I think it was more for nipple coverage than for breast size enhancement. One day on the way to math class, one of the pads fell out. I stepped on it, then instead of lifting that foot to walk, I dragged it along the floor so that later when no one was looking, I could pick it up. Why didn’t I just leave it there? I don’t think anyone would have known it was mine. The breastfeeding advocate that I am now thinks, “So what?! Pick it up! They KNEW you wore a bra!”

    Susan, I am also freaking out re: Reader!

  • Eliah

    It took a total of three minutes for me to knock a drink over in costume at dress rehearsal last night. This, of course, I totally blame on you.

  • Jen

    I had a classic moment last Friday. I had been to the gym first thing, where I did a bunch of squats with weights in addition to elliptical. I then showered and hopped in the car and drove 30 minutes to my office, but decided to stop for coffee creamer at the grocery store just before the office. I got out of the car…and immediately fell down the grocery store parking lot. I partly stepped on a tiny rock, and partly just hadn’t recovered my legs yet, apparently. I just hopped up and waved to the guy staring at me from his truck. I’ve been laughing about it ever since.

  • Denora

    Senior year in high school I sprained my ankle in the first volleyball game of the season. I sprained it so badly that the doctor told me I’d have been better off if I’d broken it, and proceeded to put me in a cast for 3 months. It was lunch time and I was on crutches making my way toward the senior quad where all the “cool” seniors hung out. I was not one of them, but I was dropping off something or other to a friend. I hit the first step of the quad, and my crutch flew out from under me. My other crutch somehow turned and my arm got caught in it, and I face-planted right into the concrete. I had what looked like road rash covering half my face, I’d sprained the crutchless wrist trying to break my fall, and I’d humiliated myself in front of every senior I’d ever wanted to impress. I still, STILL get teary eyed thinking about it 16 years later. It was absolutely the most mortifying experience of my life.

  • Lindsey

    I loooove BodyPump.

    But last week I put one of the steps up on a stack during a transition, and proceeded to cause the whole bunch to fall. It took me a while to get it all cleaned up, all while the rest of the class was trying to stack their steps to get back to the bicep track. Sooo embarassing, and I see these folks twice a week!

  • Elaine C.

    You will appreciate this, given your relatively recent involvement in community theater. I was stationed on a Coast Guard ship in Hawaii right out of college and our ship was down hard for maintenance. I got permission from my command to try out for the Army local theather’s production of “Cats.” I did a couple of musicals in college as part of the chorus and figured what the heck. Now, I am NOT a dancer. But I can manage a couple of steps and twirls and not look like a complete moron, usually, or at least fudge it and catch myself before falling on my face when I trip. So anyway the audition call thingy said right on there, “All levels welcome. All cats are not created equal and some parts may require more dancing than others.” I figured, perfect! So I showed up in my favorite jeans, tshirt, and sneakers. And as soon as I walked into the auditorium I knew I was outclassed. There were people in leotards and jazz shoes stretching and leaping in the aisles, and friendly shouting from one end of the auditorium to the other: “Hiiii, Marsha! Soooooo good to see you!” I almost turned around and walked out, but I stayed because a) I was already there and b) the people seemed REALLY friendly to each other so maybe it would be a great community for me to grow into. We all got up onto the staged and were told we’d learn a group dance number as part of our auditions – 8 counts of 32. OH MY GRACIOUS, I can barely remember what I had for breakfast an hour ago much less a complicated group dance number! AND we were told it would be a round, and they’d audition 4 people at a time, but with each person starting the dance at a different point (so you couldn’t stand in the back and copy the person in front of you). I gulped a big breath and just jumped right in. I did my best to follow along and the very last move was a SPLIT. Which I gamely tried, and to my complete surprise was *almost* able to do, at least enough to blend in. After the teaching part was over, they asked for the first group of volunteers to audition and it was crickets. Nobody wanted to be first. And again I said, “To heck with it” and raised my hand opened the floodgate. So I got in position and started the dance. It was awful. Some nice person in the wings took pity on me and started dancing along behind the curtain to help me out, and I sort of followed along gamely. Now, if there was anything from my my elementary school piano teacher that stuck, it was to start strong, end strong, keep going, and smile! Those four things were key to people forgetting any of your goofs. So we got close to the end and I went into the split and….split my pants! Right along the seam, from knee to knee, just as bad as you could imagine. I quickly grabbed my sweater from backstage and sat on a prop with it wrapped around my waist, trying not to cry. One girl came over and hesitated before saying, “I thought that was awfully brave.” Oh lord, now I’m the poor pitiable BRAVE one, bless my heart. Yeah, that would have to be my most embarassing moment, partially tried to my lack of dancing ability. Pretty sure that was my last ever musical audition. But gee, I sure was brave.

  • Beth

    I used to work in the back office of a credit union-cube farm type environment, with a business casual dress code.

    One day I was wearing heels and slacks with a deep cuff, and I was standing by someone’s cube wall talking to them. The wall came up to mid-chest on me. We were done with our conversation, and I went to turn around to walk back to my desk, and somehow I got the heel of my left shoe caught in the cuff of my right pants leg. In one of those weird time-stood-still moments, I felt what was happening and realized I was going down if I didn’t do something, so I somehow twisted back around towards the cube I had been standing by, except instead of catching myself I just sort of crashed into it, and still mostly fell. My right forearm hit the top of the cube wall, and for some time I thought I had maybe broken it (my arm, not the wall). There was spectacular bruising and my bosses joked for weeks about thinking about changing the dress code to ban high heels. Someone also thought it was funny to keep putting one of those yellow caution signs that get put out on wet floors in front of my desk. I still remember the look on my coworker’s face as I crashed spectacularly into his wall.

  • Melissa

    Speaking of embarrassing moments in front of your first love…

    Every year, my family meets at a state park for a family reunion of sorts. We do the same things every year. On one occasion, I brought first love (FL) with me to meet more family when I was in high school. My family decided to walk to a small waterfall about a mile away from the picnic grounds. My FL and I had been teased mercilessly all day so we rushed to walk ahead of everyone (why didn’t we fall behind? WHY?) After walking awhile, my mom called “Are we almost there, Melissa?” I turned and said yes over my shoulder while continuing to walk. I turned my face back in the direction of travel and slammed my face directly into a pole next to the path.

    My FL and my entire family gathered around me – fussing, checking my pupils, teasing, fretting….

    What’s nice is I’m 32…15 years after the incident and family still brings it up. I die a little every time.

  • Michelle Smiles

    My story is much like yours. I was also a sophomore. It was also in the gym. But. But. BUT. It was my first day at a brand new school. And the whole (HUMONGOUS) school was gathered in the gym to be funneled into homerooms. Seriously – like 2000 people. Who I had never met. Me from rural Ohio where my whole high school was 500 people – all of whom I knew at some level. I had to walk into the middle of the gym floor (bad enough) to check with a teacher that I was even on a list. On my way, in my brand new slippery flats, I fell right on my ass. I wanted to die. I still kind of want to die when I think about it – for my 14 yr old self…my 40 yr old self would laugh and take a bow. I had several people say to me that day “Hey you are the one who fell on your ass in the gym.” Sigh. Horribly embarrassing.