September 12, 2005

The dangers of walking city streets in heels: Part I

Lacking physical coordination, skill, or grace.
Awkwardly constructed; unwieldy: clumsy wooden shoes; a clumsy sentence.
Gauche; inept: a clumsy excuse.


So I recently managed to hurt and humiliate myself while traveling less than 1 block in the span of approximately 3.5 minutes.

Mid-morning, my friend and colleague D. and I walked out of my office building, took a left, walked half a block, crossed the street, and went up the stairs and into an SBC for a cup of coffee, as is becoming a tradition. While tucked in the safe womb of the coffee house, all was well, except that I paid nearly 5 dollars for a latte. Even the walk down the stairs went smoothly, and we managed to cross the street unscathed. But, when I hit the FLAT 1/2 block leading up to the office door, I suddely felt my left foot fly, as if I'd accidentally stepped on ice, out in front of me. (This was almost akin to an out of body experience, in that I had not TOLD my foot to do what it was doing, and as the horrifying realization of that washed over me, I could only watch myself with a mixture of fascination and confusion, as if floating over my unruly body.)

My right foot stayed firmly planted on the ground, again, without being told to.

As you can imagine, this "two feet going opposite directions" thing left only one possible outcome: I was going down.

In a last ditch effort to save myself, I flung my arms out to the sides. Recognizing that my right hand held a cup of coffee worth its weight in gold, I proceeded to hold it very still above my head while flinging my outstretched left arm first backward, and then forward to try to regain some sense of balance. This only resulted in making me look like a dying one-winged bird with a cup of espresso. Long story short, I finally hit pavement. Fully. With D. watching on.

I, of course, immediately burst out in a fit of laughter, which was only made worse by the fact that D. clearly couldn't decide whether he was supposed to be helping me or laughing or walking away as fast as he could. A comical mixture of shock, pity, embarassment and hilarity appeared on his face, alternating in no particular order.

To make matters even more ridiculous, as I was getting up (and feeling a little mopey about the fact that I had just fallen down on a public Seattle street for no apparent reason while wearing my hottest heels and a new pair of jeans, which I was going to have to wash and check for ass-scuffing, now) I noticed that I had somehow managed to set my coffee down, upright, before I hit the ground.

It's like my inner mom kicked in, with a "do you know how much that coffee just cost you? You could buy health insurance with what you just spent on that! And now you're going to drop it?!!!" and caused me to involuntarily sacrifice my body for a shitty cup of overpriced espresso.

As a matter of fact, D. later said he thinks I might have pulled out of the whole trip unscathed, had I not been clearly attempting not to spill a drop of joe for the duration of my struggle with gravity.

And now my knee is swollen and sore. What gives?

This wasn't my first public run-in with physics. Just a week before the SBC "trip", a co-worker and I were walking out of Washington Mutual after depositing our paychecks. I was, again, wearing some really cute cuffed pants and heels. I pranced down the first set of stairs, which overlook the street and a patio on which sit 15-40 people at any given time. This stair-prancing didn't cause me a problem, so I must have been feeling a little cocky when I got to the second set, because I took them a little faster. Big mistake.

My increased speed resulted in me catching my right heel in the cuff of my left pant leg, which had the effect of straitjacketing my legs together. I let out a shriek that probably called dogs from the greater Seattle Metro area, and lunged forward. I would have plunged headfirst down the stairs, legs crossed, with no means of recovering my footing, had my co-worker not been in front of me. Luckily, he heard my scream (who didn't?), and turned and caught me with some superhuman reflexes (that I clearly do not posess). Honestly, that one probably would have knocked a few teeth out of me if I had been alone. But since it didn't, I spent the next five minutes laughing so hard I cried as I thought about how funny it would have looked if I just ate it the all the way down the marble stairs in front of a whole courtyard of strangers and a busy street downtown.

How is it possible for me to be so singluarly lacking grace? I mean, everything in my life points in favor of me being a veritable ballerina; lilting and spinning my way lightly through the world.

The "Use It or Lose It" theory debunked:
Since I was 2 I've been an athelete. First, dance and skiing. Then, years of gymnastics (yep -- I can do the splits and stand on my hands, folks!) followed by competitive soccer and 6 years of competitive club volleyball. Oh... and track! I did (of all things) the triple jump. Isn't that, like, the most complicated footwork possible in track and field?

And I work out often, even occasionally with a trainer who makes me do all sorts of coordinated stuff. Which I do, and hardly ever hurt myself. So obviously I've got some control over my body and use it frequently enough to suggest I could navigate the world without hurting myself. I'm considering hiring a bodyguard to walk around with me and protect me from myself and catch me and whatnot. I mean, I'm pretty sure someone out there would take that job. And God knows I need it.

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