Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Some women can’t wear white without getting a stain, and then there are those who tumble headfirst in a dress on Main Street

As I was walking from my hair appointment today, my long fluffy scarf blowing in the breeze, I made the irreversible mistake of trying to quickly scamper across a busy car-filled street. I was in an unusually good mood. It had been too long since my hair looked and smelled nice, and the sun was out despite the snow still covering the ground. I put on a dress this morning with the intention of “wowing” my husband, also long over due. When I left the house I wavered over my shoe choice. Heels were definitely not practical but my dress would not look as pretty if I were wearing mukluks, so I slipped on my chocolate brown heels. They are not too high, but high enough for someone inexperienced in the skill of balancing on the balls of her feet.

As a hurried across the street I could feel my feet sliding forward at a rate that the rest of my body could not maintain. I fell, make that nosedived, into a curling tumble onto the asphalt. I rolled the rest of the way until I made it to the sidewalk. Embarrassed, I pushed the length of my skirt back down my legs and wrapped the long scarf up around my face attempting to conceal my identity. I hustled myself away from the intersection as fast as my broken heel would take me. Now I am not a coordinated person; in fact, I am quite clumsy in regular shoes on warm summer days, so I certainly had no business running in heels in the middle of winter.

My ungraceful collision with the ground got me thinking about how stubborn people can be, that we refuse to admit we are, at times, incapable. The negative connotations of “not good enough” seem endless. If we are not capable at one thing, then surely that means we are incompetent at many things. When did we all become such over-achievers? Why does it have to take my face smashed against asphalt to remind me that I cannot do all things well?

When I was about twelve years old I was in skating lessons, and I decided I was going to sew a skating dress for an upcoming local competition. I had never sewn before, but that seemed a small matter. I made the entire dress using strips of iron-heated adhesive. What I hadn’t planned on was the cold air in the arena making the adhesive hard and brittle. The dress began falling apart on me as I cross-cut, twirled and spiraled across the ice. By the end of the routine I was holding a sleeve in my hand and the other was holding my skirt from falling down. This was the first of many times that I flashed an unwitting audience.

I have since learned to sew, and the curtains that hang throughout my house are testament to my skill. I have also learned to skate and, although I won’t be doing any double axles, I can glide in a perfectly acceptable fashion. But I’ll never be that woman who can wear white and not get a stain or the woman who has perfectly coifed hair, while selecting a firm but not too firm melon, in the grocery store. Sometimes it takes an embarrassing moment to remind us that we cannot be this woman. In my case the reality of my inadequacy literary threw me to the ground. Next time I should skip the heels and opt for a more practical pair, standing tall for practical women everywhere.