Early one Sunday night, a few friends and I had beers outside the Ocean Bar. This was two weekends ago. The weather had been glorious. We gathered on the jetty of Grand Canal Dock. The evening slowly cooled but not so much that an eclectic group of people sat by the waterfront. Plenty of sun scorched, red flesh was on display. The eye candy was top notch. A friend and I returned from the off licence bearing beers. We strolled towards the waterfront, absorbing the many sights.
In front of the marina hangs a chain not of exceptional height. The lowest part reaches my knees. This obstacle separated us from our friends. I lifted my leg to what I presumed was an adequate height. My toes caught the chain. I tripped and fell forward. My trip swung the chain, causing my companion to also tumble. I quickly apologised. Pain ran through my shin. It throbbed and stang sharply. It was then I realised dozens of people potentially had witnessed my awkwardness. Surprisingly, there was no cheer. I limped away agonisingly.
We arrived at our patch on the marina; I recounted the incident to my friends.
Jeni corrected me. “No, Stephen! You fell! You fell on your own and took me down with you. Miraculously, neither of us dropped one beer.”
This is not the first time I have tripped over a railing. A few years ago, on a beautiful, sunny day on the canal near Baggott Street, a significant number of people sat with their food on the adjacent grassy bank. I left work for lunch, intending to cross the canal. A similar obstacle awaited me; a chain railing. I attempted an elaborate run and jump. Following a quick dash, I sailed gracefully through the air. The toe on my – perhaps too – pointy shoe clipped the chain. I landed flat on my face with my arms outstretched before me. I lay face down on the grass for a nanosecond, momentarily, coming to terms with the incident. A loud cheer erupted from the many diners. I was mortified. I dusted myself down and vacated the area speedily. Later, returning to the office via the same route, I prayed I would not be recognised. There was no more applause.
I recall other clumsy events in addition to my inability to scale knee high railings: A few months ago, I walked into a filing cabinet at work. This filing cabinet has been in the same place for months. One particular day, my spatial awareness took a vacation. I walked straight into it. Then there was the time I walked into the row of desks; extremely painful. So hard was my collision that the entire row of desks shook. The occupants looked puzzled. I attempted to mask my limp. I whined under my breath with each painful step. There are occasions I’ve bungled basic things like walking. I have walked into the gate outside my house, missed a kerb on Parnell Street, missed another kerb on the Navan Road and tore the knee out of an expensive suit when I fell running for a bus.
Last night I visted Boots on Grafton Street to look for a toothbrush. On a typically, disorganised aisle, I lowered to my hunkers to examine the shelf. I balanced my weight on my right leg. A man walked by. I caught him in the corner of my eye. It was then I fell over on my side. He jumped out of the way. My considerable mass avoided him. I sat flat on my ass, looked up and apologised. We both laughed. He was genuinely tickled by the incident. About ten minutes later I met him at the cash point. He giggled as soon as he saw me. My clumsiness brought a smile to someone’s face.
I frequently discover purple and yellow bruises when in the shower. More than often I cannot pinpoint the cause. At the moment my left shin is yellow from the remnants of a bruise. My right knee is scabbed from the chain railing. This pain has prompted me to read around the subject of clumsiness. There are many theories to why people are clumsy. Common causes are imbalance, fatigue, lack of spatial awareness, bad eyesight and insomnia. I discussed this at lunch today. Some colleagues advised I should invest in a bracelet containing magnets to correct what ever imbalance I have in my magnetic fields. I dismissed this as hooey.
I don’t need magic, magnetic bracelets. What I need is a colossal amount of padding to reduce the impact for when I ultimately collide with stationary objects.