Monday, March 5, 2012

Aix for the Maladroit

When I was 4 years old, I started taking ballet lessons. I think I was willing to do the endless relevés and pliés all year just because I was rewarded with a cute skirt and a pillbox hat for the year-end recital. After I graduated to crowns and tutus, I was permanently hooked. Or maybe I really loved ballet....I can't remember. During all those years of lessons and training, my mother always made sure to point out how graceful I was. She made me feel like a delicate flower. When I reached age 13 and had to continue my training in the big city, my mom drove the hour and a half to and from, every week. But only for a year.

Because during that year I realized she had been lying to me all that time! Maybe I should just call it positive reinforcement. Not only was I too tall, too big and too well-fed to be a ballerina, I was most definitely NOT graceful. Standing at that barre in the cavernous, ancient, technique room, trying to digest the ballet master's orders over the sounds of the pianist, and regarding my big-oaf self in the ever-present mirror, I realized this was never going to happen. I was not only the elephant in the room, I was the bull in the china shop.

The word for clumsy is maladroit in French, though the word is used in English as well. I'm one of those people who sprouts mysterious bruises, never even knowing where they came from. I trip on everything, drop, break shatter something daily; the kitchen is a disaster when I cook and I have a tendancy to run into doors (normally straight on the edge). It could be that I'm just trying to do several things at once....but the fact is, I shouldn't.

Now, I live in a city/country that is unkind to people of my kind. There are obstacles at every turn: deep, dark pits of danger in every quarter. I want to walk while looking up so I can find all the architectural lovelies that one can only see with their eyes toward the sky. I want to. But I shouldn't.

A normal street here, with its cobblestones and ancient oddities is tough enough.  There's that trough that runs down the middle which carries water to wherever it belongs. Step in this wrong, and there goes the ankle.

Every day after the market, the square is cleaned. What were these people thinking wall-to-walling the square with those slick stones? They did not have people like me in mind. Getting across this takes every bit of concentration I have. No reading and walking here.

This is the street that I take to the market each day. Rue Mignet is under construction but it is not closed off to pedestrians. It simply can't be. But it is not like a construction site in the United States with lawsuits lurking under every obstacle. It just is what it is....

 a minefield for the maladroit.

 And this is the corner I have to night.

The street will be beautiful when it's finished this spring. Aside from the major renovations happening underground, the surface is being painstakingly paved by hand. The masons use a string to keep their work level and even. I'm just telling you that I've come to know it as a tripwire.

I am continually wrenching my already car accident-injured back by stepping in holes and trying to catch myself before taking a digger. Recently however, all had been going well. Until last week.  I was leaving the perfectly safe, modern pharmacy. While reading my prescription that had just been filled, I came to the clear, sliding glass door that opens automatically. Except it didn't. And I didn't see it. I would say I was like a bird crashing into the living room window, except that description is too delicate. I was much more like the elephant...or the bull.  And I felt like the Roadrunner after he runs head-on into a rock, my body re...ver...ber...a...ting from the crash.  And to make it worse, there were plenty of witnesses. The impact was so loud, everybody on my side of the square caught a glimpse of large-animal-gone-mad. 

Today I'm making another appointment at the kiné, the man who has now become my savior. He should offer me a membership or a coupon know, buy 10 sessions get 2 free.  But I keep thinking that perhaps if I just sport a tutu and a crown EVERYDAY, I'll believe, (like I used to) in my grace enough to save myself the pain...and the euros.

Have a great week, everyone!

dancer image courtesy of GraphicsFairy


  1. Montpellier has a smooth main square too - lethal when it's wet.

  2. Thanks for making me giggle. Not at your misfortune, of course. But, you made me think of my daughter. She could also be described as maladroit. She can trip over air and does so often. I love your blog!


  3. Delana, Now I know why you and Grace hit it off so well. I mean, I named her Grace so I was really asking for it. She took ballet for years and she crashes at the slightest dusting of snow. I'm not the most graceful either, so I know she comes by it honestly. For us, we like to blame it on being left handed.

  4. Sarah-then you know of what I speak. However, it strikes me that if you're toodling all over southern France on a moto, you can't be all that clumsy!

    Selena-Thank you so much for the compliment. I'll have to go and check out yours. My son is as I am and when he was little, with a broken finger on one hand, a broken elbow and a black eye and sobbingly asking me what was so wrong with him....well...what could I say?

    Paulita-High creativity levels in left-handers makes up for clumsiness...doesn't it? I'm still looking for my saving Grace!

  5. Mlle. ChaussetteMarch 5, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    yikes!!!! This was a funny one only because i know what and where you are talking about (thanks for the doorway to my new apartment shout-out, by the way!). I have to say, i would have laughed (with you?) at the pharmacy. I hope you are ok - but i did get quite a chuckle!!! And i suppose the construction work at Rue Mignet is the French getting back at you enjoying their country just a bit too too much!!!!

  6. Oh, wow! You started me thinking "there was the time that . . . " and couldn't stop. You're not to the age yet where you start getting little tests that ask "how many times have you fallen in the past year?" Like, how do you expect me to remember a number that?

  7. Seriously, get yourself a bottle of
    l'elixir de l'Abbe Perdrigeon'.
    It wipes out bruises in no time...and I should know, stander on of rakes as I am...

  8. I seem to remember that you were the most wonderful country swing dancer! Of course, it could have been the shots of Jack beforehand, or the fact that Jerry held on to our hands so very tightly to keep us from flying into the wall. Are you wearing your cowboy boots?

  9. Holly- I'm okay but M. Toujas is going to fix me up Wednesday before I leave for Switzerland. Otherwise, Vreni is going to kick my ass on the slopes.

    Lee-I think "that time" is starting. Merde!

    Dear Ms. Stander on of rakes- Where do I get this magic elixer?

    Jody-ah to dance with abandon like that again! The cowboy boots! This is the problem. I had to leave them in the U.S. for repair and I'm waiting impatiently. I can't live without them and it's been since January 21 that I left them. But who's counting?

  10. Hallo Delana,
    l hope you will be OK next week, then the slopes are perfect. l`m so happy to see you again

  11. Good God Girl! I had no idea. So while we were wandering around Aix, with me clutching at your arm so I wouldn't fall, it was you who should have been clutching me! Thanks for yet another wonderful tale of life in Paradise!

  12. I may be able to run in heels, but I'm still very maladroit... I'm like you, bruises here and there and everywhere without a clue as to where they came from... usually the coffee table, the door handle, the corner of the wall. You know, those every day obstacles that aren't obstacles for normal people, but for us, they're disasters waiting to happen.
    I wish I could have been there with you when you ran into the door. I would have helped you up, dusted you off, and then laughed my ass off! :)

  13. Vreni- my ski pants fit and thats ALL that matters. See you Friday!

    Julie-The fact is, you believed I could save you. That's all that matters!

    Sara-I think if you had been there, we would have been wetting our pants. Then we would have fallen down in a heap. Just sayin'

  14. I just broke my leg while walking on a very level sidewalk just stepping off the curb onto a very level road! The real problem was that I also got an enormous blood clot from the swelling and trauma. So far I have been lucky while walking in Europe, not so in Canada. Go figure!


Talk to me!