I wish I could blame it on the choreography, but it’s not a musical. I just had a clumsy moment.~ Delta Burke
When I was six years old, I was riding my bicycle on the street in front of our house in New Orleans. It was August 25, 1961. Mom was 8-1/2 months pregnant with my little brother who weighed 12-1/2 lbs when he was born the next month. Imagine how uncomfortable she must have been on that hot, August day. Here’s what Mom wrote about what happened next:
“In the afternoon I was trying to get a little cooking ahead, since we had a rather full schedule, and right in the middle of getting chicken fried came a brigade of shrieking children ‘Carol’s bleeding! Hurry, hurry!’ Well, I had been moaning and aching around all day, but I know I ran the hundred yards in ten seconds, and sure enough, she was bleeding, and badly.
She’d been riding her bike and showing off in front of the older children by using ‘no hands’ when she and bike parted company, and she landed chin first on the curb. It was a bad, deep cut. So we stopped the bleeding and Helen (note: our housekeeper) held Carol on one knee and Mary on the other while I alerted the doctor, and then we took off.
Fortunately, he is in the neighborhood, and they were ready for us when we got there. Bless her heart, sweet Carol needed seven stitches to get closed up, but she never peeped or even turned pale; she just lay there with her little feet crossed and counted the stitches as he took them. Funny part is that I stayed and held her hand and even watched the whole thing without getting squeamish, but haven’t had the nerve to even change the bandage since!”
She went on to say that afterwards, she rested awhile and then she and Dad went to a dance at the Roosevelt Hotel (on Canal Street). Even as uncomfortable she must have been, she said that the party “was fun, and I needed a slight bit of relaxation.”
Fifty one years later (two weeks ago), back in New Orleans, I was staying at that very same hotel, which is now beautifully refurbished. It was a breezy, sunny but very chilly Friday morning when I set out for a run along the River Walk.
Since it was cold, I had decided to wear leggings and a windbreaker, and even put some gloves on. Usually, I warm up after awhile and regret bundling up, but I really hate being cold at the beginning of a run! Sure enough, I began to feel warm, so I took of my gloves and put them in my pocket. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t!
Up on the River Walk, I stopped to admire the view of the Mississippi River Bridge and the assorted boats. It was a gorgeous day, and I reveled in the fact that I was in one of my favorite places and had absolutely nothing planned but do what I wanted and go where I pleased.
So I started running north towards the French Market. The River Walk is paved with bricks in a herringbone pattern interspersed with stone pavers (see photo). I was watching the river traffic (instead of my feet), and it wasn’t long before my left foot tripped over a gap between the bricks and stone. DOWN I went before I had a chance to regain my balance. Knees, hands, elbows and as hard as I was trying to keep my head up… FACE PLANT.
Oh. No. As I attempted to scramble up, a nice man ran up to help me. I could see that my hands were gouged and bloody, but what about the rest of me? Since I had on leggings and a jacket, my knees and elbows were protected (bruised, but not scraped). How about my face? I asked the man if I were bleeding anywhere, and he said he didn’t see any blood. Recalling my face plant of fifty-one years ago, I anxiously felt my chin. It hurt and had dirt all over it, but it seemed to be intact!
Happily, I had managed to turn my head to the right, so while my left cheekbone and brow were both bruised, they weren’t cut! Next I felt my teeth, and they all seemed to be in place. I was so lucky it wasn’t any worse! If only I hadn’t taken off my gloves…
Feeling a bit shaky, I walked back to the Roosevelt, imagining that my face was turning purple. Of course I had no mirror to see myself. As it turned out, my bruises were minimal and easily concealed with makeup. Only my hands were a mess.
On the long walk back, I couldn’t help but wonder about what I would have done if I had cut my chin (or brow) or broken my teeth. I was so grateful that I wasn’t seriously hurt!
Now the next morning, I felt like a train had hit me. My jaw had seized up, my neck was stiff and I could barely move my arms. My solution to that was to book a massage, which helped a great deal, as did drinking wine at the nightly parties!
Ah, New Orleans… where one can let those good times fall. Oops, I mean ROLL.