I’m not exactly known for my gracefulness. It runs in the family. In fact, I can’t think of a single person in my family who is known for grace. My sister’s nickname as a child was Carp, a play on her name, Cara, to signify her clumsiness. My mother, just a few short weeks ago, fell headlong in the middle of Main Street with a semi-truck barreling at her. She sustained a nice bruising and a cut on her face where her glasses broke and jabbed her. I was told (through the grapevine, not by Mom) that as she fell she was heard to cry, “Oh sh*&, not again!” Which goes to show that this was not the first time such an action had occurred to poor Mom.
My dear grandma has, over the long years of her life, fallen too many times to count, fortunately -and amazingly- without ever hurting herself. She is so famous for this that the staff at the assisted living facility where she resides call her Iron Woman. We affectionately call her the Amazing Bouncing Grandma.
My uncle fell while pulling at a vine and broke his leg in four places. What can I say? With such a gene-pool it’s not a surprise that my nickname is Klutz. I stumble over my feet, trip over cobbles and have, at times, been known to walk into walls. And yes, I do these things while I am perfectly sober, thank you for asking.
But yesterday really took the cake.
Giorgio and Francesca are visiting from Rome. They have had an ongoing argument over when was the last time they had been in Ascoli. More than twenty years is the closest concensus they will reach, with Giorgio giving up and Francesca wanting to pin down an exact date they last saw our fair city. This was the recurring topic as we strolled about part of the centro storico pointing out our favorite landmarks.
We crossed the Roman bridge to an ancient part of town known as Borgo Solesta, where one finds a very nice prospect over the centro and can see several of the storied (and multi-storied) towers rising over Ascoli. There is also a very old lavatoio, or washbasin, that is rather cool to look at. We’ve given up trying to find out its date of origin, as when we inquire of such things the locals either look at us like, why would you want to know that? or like, I don’t know the answer so don’t ask me. "E molto antica" is the best answer we can usually muster on such occasions. It’s very old, yes we know that, but how old?
So we take our guests over to gaze at the old basin where once-upon-a-time women had the back-breaking task of beating their clothes clean while stooped over the great tubs and gossiping. Francesca thought this was very interesting and descended the few steps to the floor of the washroom and promptly slipped on the slime and fell rather hard. “Hai fatto male?” I asked her. Did you hurt yourself. When she didn’t answer immediately, I foolishly set my foot down on the floor to try to offer her a hand to get back up. I thought I’d stepped on regular stone, being careful to avoid the green slime stuff that inevitably forms where there is mineral-rich water. But there was something slimy there, too, I discovered and I felt my legs fly up and out like in a cartoon as I haplessly went airborne and headed for a rock-hard fall. I came down on my left hand and thigh, making myself quite dirty with muck in the process.
I told you I am not graceful didn’t I? So there we were, two klutzy women on the ground while our fearless, strong men stood a ways off watching the proceedings. I must say they are probably the wiser of the bunch.
All the way home Francesca and I surveyed our filthy clothes and kept exclaiming, “mamma mia!”; “che sporca”; and “che un disastro!” Good lord, what a mess. I’m such a walking disaster, is the gist of that.
Naturally, Francesca who is nearly twenty years my senior has no pain or bruising to report. I on the other hand hurt my hiney along with my pride, and have a shiner the size of Nebraska on my leg. My hand stings like the dickens. At least I was attempting a good deed when this occurred. But that doesn’t help to change my nickname any. I’m still a klutz.
copyright 2007 Valerie Schneider