Last week, my youngest son received a prestigious Scholar-Athlete Award from the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. He and 28 other scholar-athletes from around our state were feted at a fancy gala: the party included a cocktail hour and sit-down dinner, followed by several guest speakers; and then minute-long speeches were given by each of the fine young men who were being honored that night. It was a lovely event, and we were quite proud of our baby boy, who has worked hard throughout his high school career and deserves all the accolades he's receiving now.
This was a pretty swanky affair; I had on a beautiful red suit, the one I wore for my oldest son's rehearsal dinner, and black high heels. I looked like a real grown-up lady, or at least I like to think I did. But the story I'm about to tell proves that you can dress me up, but you can't take me out.
Before the dinner got underway, a professional photographer took photos of each of the award winners individually, and then he took one of the whole group. Moms were invited to take pictures, as long as they waited their turn so that the flashes from the cameras of the amateurs wouldn't interfere with what the professional was doing. Never one to miss a photo op, I made my way with the other eager moms into a cordoned-off space in the back of the hall, a space that was very crowded with not only the boys who were having their photos taken, but also a bunch of round tables and chairs. Several movable "walls," made out of wooden latticework, were set up around the perimeter of the area where the photos were being taken (although I didn't really take much notice of them).
After I'd gotten the shots I wanted of my MVP, I was trying to scoot discreetly around the veritable obstacle course of people, tables and chairs that stood between me and the main dining room, and I accidentally leaned back into one of the movable wall units (which, in my peripheral vision, had looked like a solid wall) and began to fall backward, reaching out on my way down for another movable wall unit and pushing it out of position in the process. I crashed down--hard--landing right on my derriere. Looking back, it felt as if I'd been doing one of those trust exercises and the person who was supposed to catch me had deserted me, leaving me to free-fall into space. My elbow and hind parts were throbbing, my skirt was hiked halfway up my thighs, and my face was a shade or two darker than my suit. I wasn't really hurt, but I was mortified! To make matters worse, I found that I didn't have the strength to get up on my own, and some moms reached down to give me a hand. One of them said, "Don't worry, the boys didn't see anything." But afterward, I asked my son if he'd seen, and he said, "Um, yeah. I heard the commotion going on over there, and one of the guys next to me joked, 'Well, football is a contact sport.' [Let me interject here: that kid was pretty clever. Okay, my son's narrative continues now.] Then I saw you being helped to your feet and I thought, 'Oh, no.'"
My son had a sort of indulgently amused look on his face to go along with the "Oh, no." I guess it's lucky for me that he's not easily embarrassed, even by his uncoordinated mother.
Pratfalls in movies usually make me laugh, and laugh hard. I always thought that in her early movies, Goldie Hawn was so adorably goofy and klutzy; but somehow when Goldie Hawn moments happen in real life, they're not all that cute! And it seems like they happen to me more often than they should. I'm going to blame it on an inner ear imbalance that has yet to be diagnosed.
I tried not to let my unfortunate little episode ruin a perfectly good evening, and it didn't. When I returned to the table, bruised but otherwise okay, and told my husband, my older son, and our football coach's wife what had happened, I couldn't stop laughing. And later on, when my son gave his short acceptance speech, I had everything I could do to keep from crying.