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A Class Act

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.

** And now a word from our sponsor**

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.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

52 responses »

  1. I have suffered from many a clutzy fall but that has to be one of the best stories I’ve heard in a long time. Way to make sure you were remembered in high school! 🙂

    Reply
    • It’s nice to meet a fellow clutz. I’m so glad my humiliation made for such a funny tale. At least something good came out of it. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, comment and subscribe 🙂 Hope to see you again soon.

      Reply
  2. I thought stuff like that only happened to Jen! Seriously though, I bet you remained in your classmates’ memories long after most of the others had faded away.

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    • Jen can rest easy knowing that she is not the only human to suffer with such clumsiness. It was definitely a memorable experience although I’m not so sure that’s what I’d want to be remembered for.

      Reply
  3. oh, and congrats on the award! and that you don’t need to step up to any stage to receive it 🙂
     
    sorry was just a bit distracted by and orange & white cat that suddenly had the need to be held while i was sitting at my laptop, so i didn’t get that in there at first. 🙂

    Reply
  4. oh, how moritifying! and funny, too. laughing with you, not at you.

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  5. Great blog! My heart went out to her. Have a great week. Hugs, Barbara

    Reply
  6. I’m new to the blogger world, and just started my own. Thanks for the inspiration!i definitely have an embarrassing moment or two to share. 🙂

    Reply
  7. I tell everyone that I trip over dust, but your experience tops any I’ve had. Paprika. Wow! I would have been mortified as well. Glad you’ve maintained your sense of humor about that. Congratulations on the award.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the congratulations, Judy!

      Next time you trip over dust, you can always think, “Well, at least I didn’t fall into a hole like Paprika.” I honestly think that my clumsiness helped my sense of humor develop. It was either learn to laugh about it or never leave the house again 🙂

      Reply
  8. Love your writing. Thanks for sharing it.

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  9. Well first, congrats on being in the top 25 well deserved.

    Why in the world was their a manhole directly where you had to walk? Why did you have to walk there and not a man? I never understood this, if it is a manhole why isn’t there a man in there, warning people away.

    I am very glad you survived (with no pictures).

    Reply
    • Thanks for the congratulations and compliment, Valentine 🙂

      Apparently, the manhole was on the field to maintain the natural grass. There was a faucet in there and a lot of hose coiled up, but no man warning me to stay away. Why they had to put a chair directly over the manhole remains a mystery all these years later. I can tell you that when we went back for the actual graduation ceremony later that night, the manhole cover was securely fastened and the entire row of seats had been moved back away from it.

      Reply
  10. I was going to start some “weeding” today, but I saw your blog and that was the end of my weeding. Of course, the blog didn’t take that long to read, but my moment passed… Glad your survived high school graduation. Another thing we have in common (no, I didn’t fall down a hole) – I would have been first also (shortest to tallest – it must have been popular then), but I was behind a “little person.” Hope all is well. How is Linus doing? I just received my retro check from NP in the mail – it is enough to buy me two pair of pants from Lands End (maybe, if they’re on sale).

    Love, Paula

    Reply
    • If your garden is overrun with weeds I will not accept the blame for it, but I’m glad you took the time away from your busy weeding schedule for reading. I knew you’d be able to relate to this story. We’ve always shared our petiteness as a special bond.

      Linus is doing really well, but he’s quite a stinker. He’ll be the subject of a future blog post.

      Reply
  11. It’s so wrong, but I find it absolutely hilarious when people fall.
    Think of the smiles you put on your classmates’ faces that day. 🙂

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  12. Oy, as an overprotective MIL, my first reaction was to immediately run and put my arms around you and protect you from any further disasters!!!
    A manhole on the field? It should have been more secure! You were so brave to tough it out! xoxox

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  13. And congrats on your award! Well deserved!

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  14. What a story — and you tell it so well! Too bad you weren’t holding balloons (as I know you sometimes do to be located in a crowd). Enough balloons and they might have lifted you right out of the hole!

    Reply
    • Funny you should mention balloons, Lisa. Years ago I went with friends to a very crowded convention. I get lost easily in a crowd so my friends tied a balloon to my backpack so that they could keep track of me. There is no end to the humiliation I have to withstand 🙂

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  15. What a story, Paprika! Love the wry sense of humour!

    I was just imagining how a video clip made by one of your classmates during that event would have done the rounds of YouTube and Facebook nowadays! I think it would be an instant hit, particularly now that you have become famous for being one of the Top 25 Humour Blogs! Congratulations on that, by the way!! A well-deserved acknowledgement!

    I shall hold thumbs that you will run into the gallant Hugh Jackman one day, Paprika. Hm… perhaps ‘run into’ is an unfortunate turn of phrase… Well, I’m sure you’d let us know, wouldn’t you?! 🙂

    Reply
    • Am I happy that YouTube didn’t exist back in 1988! With my luck, when you say that I might run into Hugh Jackman, I would probably RUN INTO Hugh Jackman knocking us both down so that he wouldn’t be able to help me up. That’s just the way my luck goes.

      Thanks for the congratulations and for always reading 🙂

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  16. Isn’t it strange that these moments of normal, human vulnerability allow us to connect to these people who have become celebrities?

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  17. Whenever I hear about deep high school traumas from now on I will think of you deeply enmeshed in the manhole on your graduation day!

    Congratulations on being chosen as one of the top 25 Humor Blogs. If they’d have asked me they’d have known that a long time ago.

    Reply
    • I can only imagine how ridiculous I must have looked poking out of the ground that morning. I’m grateful there are no photos.

      Thanks so much for your very kind compliment and for being such a loyal reader 🙂

      Reply
  18. Oh Oh Oh ! I don’t know whether to laugh or be embarrassed for you!! Congrats on getting voted into top 25 🙂 You are always good humo(u)red!

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    • By all means, feel free to laugh and be embarrassed for me. I certainly struggled with that dilemma and found that doing both of those things is the only way to go. Thanks so much for the congratulations and for always reading 🙂

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  19. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    But richly deserved none the less… Congratulations Paprika!!

    Reply
  20. I’m pulling for you running into Hugh Jackman one day, as you are poised to take one for the team and afford Hugh another chance to demonstrate his chivalry. Have you considered a pratfall career a la Chevy Chase? That billowy gown may not be so far away!

    Reply
    • Now that I know Hugh Jackman is so chivalrous, I’ll be sure to head for the nearest wobbly manhole cover if I ever see him in person.

      As for my career doing pratfalls…that would presume that I have some kind of control over my clumsiness which I do not. The only thing predictable about my clumsiness is that it happens at the most inopportune times.

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  21. I’m so sorry- you really deserved to have Hugh Jackman rescue you. Ah yes, don’t we all… 🙂

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  22. There is also the bright side to this story…..you could have cracked the hose and started a geyser that would have put “Old Faithful” to shame…it could have happened during the actual graduation ceremony in front of a bleacher full of parents (including your own)…you could have wound up in China…it could have been a sink hole…just think how lucky you were!!! (Gotta think positive….)

    Reply
    • Believe me, Bob. I did look on the positive side. I was soooooo grateful that it didn’t happen during the graduation ceremony when the local TV station was filming. It was bad enough that when I walked across the platform to receive my diploma I heard several voices yell, “Look out for the hole!”

      Reply
  23. What a great story! I’m so glad the only damage was to your dignity. And I’m glad that you can laugh — because it is hilarious. Were there pictures??????

    Congrats on being one of the Top 25 Humor Blogs. I saw that you were on there, and I wanted to like both you and Speaker7 but cannot navigate on that site. In fact, I couldn’t even figure out the other 24! Sigh. I’m pretty sure it’s me … But you are still TOPS!

    Reply
    • Thankfully, there were no pictures of me trapped in that hole. I graduated before the days of cell phones,cell phone cameras and You Tube. I do have a picture of me receiving my diploma with a big bruise on my shin.

      Thanks for trying to vote for Good Humored. I truly appreciate the effort. You weren’t the only one who had difficulty navigating that site. Quite a few other people had the same troubles. It’s the thought that counts 🙂

      Reply
  24. As always, thanks for putting a smile on my face!!

    Reply

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