Diane Dean-Epps: I do all my own stunts, but never intentionally
I’m a wee bit accident prone. Though there isn’t a support group for the condition, this distinction should at least merit a designated side-of-the-building parking space cordoned off for everyone’s safety. I often joke I can dance, but I can’t walk, because I actually do possess grace when I’m dancing. Not so much when I’m walking. I call people like me “proners” because it’s much nicer than the term clumsy oaf.
One of the many ways I end up getting owies is my proner propensity to trip and, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not talking about that kind of tripping. In point of fact, I’ve developed a patented type of running trip for which I manage to stick the landing about 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I dismount somewhere I wasn’t planning to go, narrowly avoiding full implementation of my insurance coverage in the form of ambulance service.
I’m telling you I could hurt myself on a boiled noodle. My clumsiness has always been a part of my life. But as I’ve gotten more — mature, shall we say — these emotionally and physically painful experiences have really amped up. Whereas before entering my fifth decade I averaged about one proner incident a week, I’m now averaging one a day.
A typical day finds me careening off of walls, capturing my hair in my car window, and rendering my outfits as clothing chronicles representing everything I’ve ingested. This accelerated schedule of proner incidents worries me when I watch elder care commercials, as terms like “surrendering your estate” and “best placement and the least restrictive environment” are bandied about.
Alas, proners beget proners. My mom’s proner brand was established during her high heel-wearing days, when she possessed the uncanny ability of tripping whenever she was carrying a food item. Because of this, she became an unwitting source of slapstick comedy that makes me feel really badly about myself when I laugh hysterically.
Then there’s my father. Though he could steadily walk a narrow B17 bomber catwalk, no problem, he narrowly missed hospitalization performing the most basic of tasks in his day-to-day life.
Witness one sweltering summer when we were engaged in the delightful pursuit of the post-World War II American dream that was RV travel. I can still see my father standing at the front of the RV, cautioning us about the newly installed fan located right up front. He warned us that if we were “too stupid to avoid the fan, then I don’t feel sorry for you. I’m only going to tell you this one time. Watch your head.”
As my father climbed off his makeshift podium, he managed to snag the edge of the newly installed fan with his noggin, causing him to shift his weight ever so slightly. We held our collective hot breaths. He didn’t say a word. One hour later we were at the side of the road taking a bio break when my father attempted to scoot sideways back into his seat. It looked as though he had it made when he managed to wing the side of his head. We immediately converted our guffaws into a bout of fake coughing.
Later that day, we pulled over again to enjoy a nourishing, motorhome-cooked meal of fried hamburgers, canned string beans and buttered bread when my father made the mistake of getting up. As he made his way down the aisle, he nearly made it without mishap when, at the last second, he hit his head so hard on the fan that the force bounced him all the way back down the aisle like an errant ball in a pinball machine.
We never saw that fan again. I suspect it disappeared in a high arc somewhere over the derrick-dotted oil fields of Texas. It bears mentioning that our family is as prone to being in possession of a good arm as we are to having close encounters with inanimate objects. Probably not a bad trade-off.
Diane Dean-Epps lives in Grass Valley.
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