April 22, 2008

I Keep on Fallin'

This is a Guest Post by the fabulous Leslie Goldman, author of the blog The Weighting Game. We could do a really, really long introduction of Leslie because she's done so many cool things (she's written a book and is even the co-host of a TV show!) But rather than repeat ourselves, we'll refer you to her previous interview and urge you to go visit her fantastic blog. So here's Leslie!

Last week, I got sucked into watching some mind-numbing show on E! called "The Best of the Worst Red Carpet Moments." Twenty minutes in, I actively thought to myself, "I am voluntarily wasting 20 minutes of my life," and then quickly slipped back into a TV coma filled with wardrobe malfunctions, celebrity babbling and Joan Rivers' scratchy squawking. All in search of the elusive payoff: E!'s All-time Worst Red Carpet Moment.

Kimberly Stewart and Paris Hilton, all tan legs and blonde extensions, were straddling tricked-out motorcycles, in very tiny dresses, looking as hot as they possibly could. Then Stewart pushed a button which she shouldn't have and was inadvertently catapulted down the red carpet at seeming warp speed. She tumbled off, spread eagle, paparazzi bulbs flashing and, as she tugged at her skirt to cover her bruised thighs and ego, all I could think was, "That is totally something I would do."

You see, I am not at all kidding when I say I am one of the biggest klutzes ever. On a daily basis, I trip over invisible cracks, bump into tables and walls, whack my head against the ceiling of the car. I spill milk all over the counter, missing my cereal bowl by a mile. I politely tuck my dress under before sitting down, only to miss the chair and end up on the floor. You know those comedy sketches when someone is talking to a friend behind them and is so into the conversation, they fail to notice that they are about to walk right into a metal pole? I have been that person.

My clumsiness started at a very young age. At nine years old, I vividly remember riding my bicycle with a friend and yelling out, arms overhead, "Look, Nicole! I can ride with no hands!" Apparently, I could not. I crashed headfirst into a mailbox, knocking myself unconscious and the next thing I remember is being delivered by Nicole's mom to my house, blood splattered on my Tweety Bird sweatshirt, not knowing my own name. "Who is the President?" I recall my mother frantically asking me, checking for signs of amnesia. I did not know. (Now I just pretend I don't.) Ever since that concussion, my life has been a series of spazzy stumbles, scary spills, and shaving accidents on par the Carrie finale.

I have a sad scar on my knee from three years ago when, while running to get the eggs off the stove before they boiled over, my legs got tangled up in my long skirt. For what seemed like two minutes, I sailed through the air, my husband watching helplessly, before I landed on the hardwood floor. Knees, then wrists, torso and head. Thud, thud...thud, thud, thud.

Later, in that same apartment, I set fire to our bed during the worst of possible times, mindlessly tossing a pillow aside without thinking. It landed on a candle. All of the sudden I heard him scream, "Fire!" and I opened my eyes to see flames lapping toward the ceiling. I tried to smother it with our comforter as my husband ran for water but unfortunately, my gentle fanning with the duvet was not forceful enough -- embers flew up and a chunk of them landed on my wrist, literally melting my skin away and resulting in an awful burn. As my beloved came to the rescue with a pitcher of water, I writhed in agony on the berber carpet with no one to blame but myself.

The strange thing about all of this is, I consider myself a fairly graceful woman. I've been a dancer my whole life, am 5'11" with a long neck and have been told, on numerous occasions, that I am well-poised, elegant even! So what makes me do things like rush to squeeze into the ever-decreasing space in a revolving door compartment, as I did at a wedding recently, only to get caught between the moving partition and door jamb, resulting in a massive head rattling, forearm bruise and public humiliation?

Apparently, the answer lies in stress and a hectic schedule, both of which I have plenty. Research shows if you're uptight and constantly focused on what you have going on five minutes from now, your muscles tense up, leading to jerky movements like sending water glasses sailing or whipping your head around and smacking your skull into the stranger behind you at the grocery story (yes, I've done both). So I guess my take-home lesson should be, when I notice more and more cuts and bruises showing up, I should take that as a sign. Slow down. Take a yoga class. Stop the ridiculous multitasking (hello, walking downtown while emailing on my phone, sipping an iced coffee and juggling my laptop and gym bag).

On a more a more serious note, accidents and unintentional injuries are a leading cause of death among all ages according to the CDC; experts suggest those people who consider themselves serial klutzes may want to examine their lifelong accident patterns and see if something deeper is at work. Depression, for instance, may cause a person to, say, not pay attention while driving, crossing the street, or bounding down the stairs.

I myself had a stair mishap but I'm pretty sure depression wasn't at the root: slippery socks were. That evening I was feeling particularly domestic and decided to mop the bathroom floor. Afterwards, I carried the bucket of dirty water and mop down two flights to the basement. Almost at the bottom, my right leg slipped out from under me. As I began to tumble, my butt hitting the first stair with a sickening crack, I had the clarity of though to realize the bucket of nasty bathroom floor water was now careening through the air, about to splash all over me. Four stairs from the bottom I attempted executing a MacGyver-like roll to the side but it was for naught. The pain upon impact was too much and I lay there, covered in mop water, legs splayed, bruises already forming...a poor woman's Kimberly Stewart.


  1. When I read this post, I had to marvel at how you could make so much pain sound so humorous.

    Ouch! Ow! Ow!

    That really sucks.

    I'm often klutzy, but so far (knock wood) I'm more likely to inflict property damage rather than personal injury. Lots of dropped cups, food stains on furniture, etc.

    Though while trail running I've twice tripped over roots or rocks and gone flying--but if no one sees me I figure it doesn't count.

    Hilarious post, and you even slipped some health info in there! The impact of stress and tight muscles sounds intuitive, but I didn't know about the research and will try to pay more attention when I'm stressed.

    Thanks, Leslie! And be careful!

  2. I've got a serious case of schadenfreude right now! I know it's not right to take such pleasure from someone else's pain but this was hilarious. "a poor man's Kimberly Stewart"!! Perfect.

    I'm one of those people who always has bruises and never can remember where they come from! Thanks for the giggle (and the warning!) - I'm already knocking on wood:)

  3. Thanks, Crabby! I actually haven't fallen in at least a week - although yesterday, I did jack my hip into metal drawer pull, resulting in a very pretty bruise. Oh, and I accidentally dropped my checkbook in a US Post Office mailbox on Friday while mailing two letters and had to call and eg for a mail carrier to come open it...but that's not as much klutzy as it is dumb.

  4. I trip over air. You are not alone.

  5. Hilarious post.. and painful. Keep safe!

  6. Klutziness is hereditary in my dad's side of the family, and girls seem to be even more prone to be tripping over a flat floor while just standing there. 'm not sure what is up with that. But I don't think I've ever caused a fire or been in as much pain as you have due to klutziness. The worst I've had was when I fell down a flight of stairs. Thirteen steps from top to bottom. I've been doing yoga, and what I've found is that not that it stops me from tripping and being clumsy, but that I'm more likely to catch myself or obtain less injury. I've already prevented a falling down the stairs episode, which I attribute to yoga.

  7. I was reracking my weights after class one day and the weight didn't slot properly - it bounced off the rack and hit my hipbone, all 10lbs of it. Resulted in a very pretty, very purple bruise. Then of course, I went and did what any normal person with a massive bruise on their hip would do - I did some hula hooping at a party. What, you mean hula hooping on a bruise will make it hurt? What?

  8. I was tripped by a palm branch while running off road a few weeks ago! I went straight forward and hit with both forearms. I think my martial arts training kept me from breaking the fall with my wrists, which is the leading cause of wrist fractures! It was on Palm Sunday :-)

    Dr. J

  9. Oh, wait, I almost forgot about my most spectacular fall!

    A couple months ago I was walking to the bus stop. I was wearing clogs that were fairly loose (to the point that one time at a friend's house I was demonstrating a kick and my shoe hit the ceiling). Anyway, I saw the bus was coming, so I started running. My right shoe started coming off, and I slammed my right arch down onto the hard back of the shoe. My left shoe started coming off and I slammed that one down too. Hands went out (luckily with gloves so no skinning), and I scraped the hell out of my knee (but thankfully didn't rip my pants). Landed on my back.

    In full view of the bus stop. And yes, they were watching.

  10. These comments are all great! And at the same time, awful! I am really seriously knocking wood right now.

  11. crabby said it in the first line of her comment. I LOVE how you can make all topics funny and interesting.

    and you are poised and elegant.

    saw it with my own eyes on the tee vee :)


  12. This could be me. And I have the scars and unexplainable bruises to prove it! (Once sliced my finger instead of the turkey...that one really did hurt and should have had stitches, but was too embarrassed.)

  13. Leslie, you are too funny! (And I'm glad you're OK!)

    When I lived on the top floor of a brownstone, I managed to fall down 3 flights, including the landings. I even at time to think "Well this is just ridiculous, I've been falling for a really long time!" as I was falling.
    When I was a kid, I was in the outpatient clinic at least once a week.
    I also take yoga, and have taken a lot of dance. I've been told I'm elegant. My theory is that I'm VERY graceful, during takeoff and flight. It's the landing that gets me.

  14. azusmom said...

    "It's the landing that gets me."

    Flying is the second greatest thrill known!!

    LANDING is the first :-)

    Dr. J

  15. I shattered (that's the word the surgeon used) my 5th metacarpal in my right hand trying to demonstrate to my boyfriend that I could have decent form while punching. He does not have a bruise, I, a pile of hospital bills. A true boxer's frature indeed.

  16. Very well written and very painful! I too can trip over my own feet and usually have bruises and no idea how they came to be.

  17. all of your injuries sound horrible, but.... i couldn't help laughing, hard! i HAVE to start reading your blog!

    this did make me think, also. i have always been accident-prone, so maybe i need to start looking at what might be causing it.

  18. Ouch, Leslie. My brothers call me "Grace" because I'm notorious for my spills. Enough said.

  19. Oh, that sounds familiar. Dance, yoga, thud, yes.
    I have never set anything on fire, but I was present when someone else's hair caught fire from a bedroom candle. "Stop! Stop! Your hair's on fire!" is just not romantic.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  20. Just the post I need. I've been pondering my own accident-proneness, as I think I've commented on before (not commenting too much lately because my right hand is broken). Ah yes, the Louise Hay book....I think she said I was rebelling against authority, or was afraid to speak up for myself (don't those cancel each other out?). BTW since nobody else took up the Hay topic I may have to do it myself.

    So let's see...a couple of years ago I stepped on a tiny piece of broken glass in the dark dining room while carrying a bunch of dishes to the kitchen--dancing around on one foot I fell over onto the table and broke a rib. PAINFUL. Then not long after that I tripped over a bunch of power cords that had wound themselves around my ankles and broke the end of my big toe. PAINFUL. Then last Christmas I mangled my middle figure setting up our tree. The gash has healed, but I still have a patch on that nail. Next I burned my right hand making pizza from scratch. As soon as that healed up, I fell over a sidewalk defect on 83rd St. and did an absolute number on my hand. My right hand. NEVER HAD SO MUCH PAIN IN MY LIFE. Then in the middle of the night I ran into a TV sitting in the middle of the bedroom floor (don't ask) and broke my left middle toe. I hardly noticed, really, it was the least of my worries at that point.

    My main problem I think is that my surroundings are dangerous. I told my husband after the power cord adventure that we had to Melissa-proof the house.

    Now I think I've discovered a new and lucrative side career: getting hurt on other people's property.

    Love to all, and get rid of all your own booby-traps.


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