Doing battle with daily dragons

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Misadventures in Bumpville


I had a nickname in college. Nicknames are rarely unfounded. William “Refrigerator” Perry did not gain his moniker at random; he got it by squashing people as flat as they might have been trapped under a Whirlpool. My epithet was equally founded.

They called me Bump.

I have NEVER been graceful. A while back, we were at dinner with some people and the husband of the couple we were dining with mentioned that his little girl wanted to take ballet lessons. “I think we’re going to try to steer her away from that,” he said, “She’s a complete klutz.” His wife kicked him under the table. But this brought back a rather early memory of begging my parents to continue in gymnastics and getting steered into a children’s drama course instead. When I was a teenager, I assumed they just didn’t want me to get into the weird world of bulimia, creepy, old guy coaches and not getting your period for the first time until you’re 26, but looking back now…I’m thinking they were more worried about me falling off the parallel bars and cracking my skull open.

Nursing a bruised knee from the snowboarding session with The Rock Star and The Girl yesterday evening, I am compelled to make a list of my Top 5 Bump Moments in ascending order of comedy factor.

5. Almost Joining the Long John Silver Society- Mel Brooks once said, “Tragedy is when you cut your finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.” Some people go a funny color when I tell this story, but there is always something inherently funny about injuring yourself and living to tell the tale.

Right, here’s the thing about skiing: As children, which among us has NOT been shouted at for running with scissors? And yet, upon clipping our feet to ski bindings and hurtling ourselves down a hill, we are handed two long, sharp pokers. Pokers which I managed to use to great effect when I fell down on the slope and jammed one directly into my eye.

“Aaaaaa! Not funny! NOT FUNNY!” I hear some of the more squeamish among you cry. Keep your pants on, I’ve still got my eye, but at the time it happened, I was completely convinced it was somewhere in the snow due to the large amount of blood that I saw on my glove. (From a cut below my eye, it turned out.) I asked my boyfriend at the time to help me find it and it took rather more convincing than it should have for me to believe it was still in my head.

Lasting Damage: A black eye for a week and a slew of “cross my heart and hope to die, stick a ski pole in my eye” jokes, but other than that, none.

4. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb- You would have thought that after my first skiing experience, I might have though twice about strapping myself to two planks of wood again, but you’d be wrong. I was EAGER to get back on the slopes.

This time, my downfall (literally) upped the ante and sent me to the emergency room with a dislocated thumb. The same boyfriend accompanied me to the local ER where we met a host of other injured skiers and a man who was so impaired by alcohol that he whizzed on the nurse. And they wonder why they have to BEG people to work for the health service.

Lasting Damage: At the risk of sounding like your grandfather, “It gives me trouble when it rains.”

3. “I’m Lovin It…”- A fairly recent addition to the list. While dining at probably one of the poshest McDonald’s in the UK in Leytonstone, I was leaning forward against the arm of a couch to illustrate a point to my better half when the tread of my boots let go of the floor and I ended up face down between two of the cushions with my legs in the air over the side. Wearing a skirt was what catapulted this onto the list. At least I was wearing my “ROCK” pants.

Lasting Damage: Only the knowledge that The Hairy One, who was sitting behind me, probably now knows I wear “ROCK” pants.

2. Man Eating Foliage- This one wasn’t really my fault, and doesn’t sound it, but it rated highly for its comedy potential. While walking along a completely pitch dark street with friends, I completely disappeared under a pile of leaves that I hadn’t noticed was right in front of me. I mean, I vanished. They looked back and I just wasn’t there. It was a pretty big leaf pile.

Lasting damage: Anyone ever get covered in slugs? It’s good for waking up in cold sweats for many years to come.

1. I’m Gonna Live Forever- There is no one who has not wanted to crawl into a hole after trying to do something cool and utterly failing.

My introduction to the world of professional theatre was a summer season working on a showboat moored on the Ohio River which will remain nameless. (But it’s in Marrieta, Ohio, has a great restaurant and sounds a lot like “Leaky Snatcher.”) The ensemble, who numbered about 20 (14 of us lived in one house. Yeah, it was EXACTLY like you think it was.) were bound together by a mutual loathing of our executive producer and we spent a lot of time sitting around bitching.

The conversation had turned to old TV shows and for some diabolical reason, I decided to stand up on a folding chair and announce, “I’m from the Fame School!” I then attempted to do the rather famous split legged leap up into the air, but being a complete dork, this was not to be. One of my socks slipped on the chair and brought the whole thing crashing down on top of me in a tangle of arms, legs and metal. I have long since forgotten which of my compatriots made the comment, but I will attribute it to my good friend, Ms. Pixy: “Hey, if that kind of thing happened on the show, I would have watched it all the time!”

Lasting Damage: to my Pride: inestimable.