I never thought I’d have anything in common with an Academy Award winning actress until last week when I saw images of Jennifer Lawrence trip up the stairs on the way to accept her Oscar. Sadly, I am no stranger to falling in front of an audience. Granted, she tripped wearing an expensive, billowy gown while being broadcast on televisions around the world, but that’s why she gets paid the big bucks. Clumsiness is one of the qualities that I reluctantly accept as part of life, but the most public demonstration of my clumsiness occurred in front of my entire high school graduating class.
The morning of my high school graduation the senior class gathered at the football field to rehearse for the big ceremony later that day. The students were seated in the bleachers as the principal explained the procedures through a bullhorn. The graduates would be lined up in ascending height order before proceeding on to the field for the ceremony. Administrators had made the unusual decision to distribute diplomas starting with the shortest student and ending with the tallest. I had the dubious distinction of being the shortest person in my graduating class, so even though I was not the valedictorian, I graduated first in my class.
When our names were called we had to leave the bleachers and go to our assigned seats on the football field. I marched onto the field while the rest of the class waited to be called. When I arrived at my seat in the first row, I noticed a potential problem; there was a manhole cover in front of my seat. There was no way I could maneuver around it without stepping directly on it. It looked sturdy, but as soon as I put my foot down on the manhole cover I knew I had made a critical mistake. The cover slid over and I dropped into the gaping hole. With every member of the senior class over five feet tall watching, the lower half of my body disappeared into this mysterious shaft. To the spectators in the bleachers, I was a torso and head sticking out of a hole in the turf. While I struggled to hoist myself out of this predicament I had a moment to contemplate the need for a manhole on a football field. As my foot tangled around a hose and wedged under a spigot, I realized this hole was the water source and storage area for the hose they used to maintain the natural grass field. Mystery solved, but I was still trapped.
With my arms at my sides, I was helpless to extract myself. A hush fell over the crowd of chatty seniors as people started to notice me submerged, squirming and calling out for help. Unlike Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman did not chivalrously rush to my rescue, but the second shortest student in our class did. He began to hoist me out of the hole and yelled to a nearby guidance counselor for assistance. Once I was successfully and gracelessly dislodged, there was a collective cheer from the onlookers. I was mortified and seriously considered crawling back into the hole.
Thankfully, I wasn’t bleeding and it seemed like only my dignity was injured. As we continued the rehearsal my leg and ankle began to throb. I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself so I hobbled through graduation rehearsal. When the other seniors left to go to lunch then home to decorate their cars, my friends took me to the nearest medical clinic for an x-ray. Luckily, I hadn’t broken any bones, but I did have an angry purple bruise the length of my shin.
Jennifer Lawrence and I both fell in front of a large crowd, but that’s where the extent of our similarity ends. After my fall, I got a diploma; she got an Oscar. What makes her really lucky is that her Dior Haute Couture gown was long enough to cover any bruises she had.
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I may not have won an Academy Award, but thanks to one of my readers, Good Humored has been named as one of the Top 25 Humor Blogs according to the website Skinny Scoop. Thanks for the nomination, Melanie and thanks to those of you who voted. I’m so glad this was a virtual award. I won’t need to wear a gown and try to negotiate steps to receive it.