The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Before a Fall

I have a thing for heels. Being 5'2" on a good day and with most of that height made up of forehead, I rarely wear flats as they reveal exactly how misproportioned my body really is (think giant torso and forehead with squat baby legs). Instead, I employ a variety of open-toed shoes that give me anywhere from 4 to 7 inches of extra leg length.

However, despite my constant use of these items, I have never really mastered the art of walking gracefully in heels. I have a nasty habit of falling (yes, actually falling) off my shoes.

In an attempt to mitigate this trait, my go-to shoes are tall, foamy flip-flops and my "dressy" alternative is almost always some sort of wedge. However, despite my precautions, combine my natural clumsiness (I fall out of bed, people) with a permanent limp and I am begging the universe to strike me down. Still, this inability to be effortlessly mobile in my footwear of choice hasn't stopped me from braving the most ridiculous heights (literally) in an attempt to appear tall.

Even when it more often than not bites me in the ass.

Case in point: a few days ago I chose to accompany my "Greek goddess" electric blue dress with a pair of light tan, 6-inch wedges. The combination was (if I do say so myself) amazing. I looked freaking awesome. And--obviously--I knew it.

Sadly, the confidence that comes with knowing you look slamming can often lull you into a false sense of shoe security.

I strutted.

I sashayed.

I moved with a grace and magnetism that is only exuded by an actual Greek goddess.

This effect was heighten by the fact that my boss offered me something he hasn't offered me in months: lunch.

I AM a goddess. A marvelous blue goddess of science!

In all my cosmic azul glory, I journeyed with him to the faculty-staff club for a little al fresco dining and science talk.

We filled our beverages and moved to the outdoor patio to claim a table (preferably one that fulfilled our mutual love of being the center of attention) before getting our actual meals. To get to the patio, you have to exit the indoor dining space and travel down about four shallow steps. These steps are situated to be the central focus of every table on the patio.

Perfect for my grandly divine entry.

Beverage in hand, fully aware of how stunning I looked, I stepped down the first step. Attracted by the azure glare of my dress (no doubt like the sky after a storm), eyes began to turn to me. I pretended I didn't notice and stepped down to the next step.

Suddenly, the weight of my head got to be too much for my stubby little legs to endure. Already straining to support my body on thin blocks of wood, my poor, overtaxed legs gave out between steps three and four.

As I went down, I made an executive decision to sacrifice my legs (those Judases) to a) save my beverage and b) prevent my dress from flipping up and treating the entire faculty-staff club to a shot of my striped underwear. This decision resulted in my bad foot somehow wrapping itself around my shoe.

A collective gasp arose from everyone on the patio (if I didn't have their attention before, I sure did now). In his dramatic haste to come to my aide (too late I might add), my boss spilled his beverage over his arms and a nearby table and commenced shaking the excess fluid off, creating a kind of lemonade soak zone in his immediate vicinity. One man (a P.I. from another lab just down the hall from mine--someone I see everyday), called out, "Are you okay?" Many asses half rose from their seats, ready to either avoid the airborn droplets of lemonade or assist me in calling an ambulance and picking up my shattered pride.

"I'm fine," I replied.

"Are you sure? That looked really bad."

Yes, it did look really bad. That's because it was really bad. I could feel my ankle swelling and pulsing as it let me know in its own special way that it hated my guts.

However, I wasn't about to let any of these voyeurs know I was hurt; what were they doing looking at me in the first place? Can't they just mind their own business and eat their stupid lunches (I had conveniently forgotten that in the previous moments I had been willing every eye on me)? Why is it when we publicly hurt ourselves, we always try to play it off if we can? Do we think that appearing to be unharmed will make the situation less embarrassing?

I don't really have an answer for that last question. I just know that I would have rather died at that moment than admitted I was hurt.

There was a problem with this scheme, however. I managed to twist my left foot. The same foot that has already suffered some serious damage, leaving me with a permanent limp. The question screamed through my mind, "how can I play this off if I already have a limp?"

The answer--of course--is to make a public general announcement to a huge group of concerned strangers.

"I'm really fine. But I will be walking with a limp because I have a permanent limp already."

"She's already got a limp, folks." The P.I. repeated just in case my announcing that fact to the club wasn't foolish and humiliating enough (BTW, nothing kills sexy faster than a limp).

At this comment, I arose, limped into the buffet line and upon returning to the steps of my ego demise, gingerly--gripping the railing the whole time--made my way to my table and full beverage.

It's eight days until my marathon. My foot is swollen and bruised. I haven't been able to run on it yet.

And I wore those same wedges with jeans today.

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