I’ve often thought that God has a wicked sense of humor. In my mind, I imagine Him to be much like the Far Side comic strip, sitting at His computer and watching the world with a goofy smirk on His face as he presses the key on his keyboard that reads, “Smite!” I see Him giggling to himself while watching me on his computer screen and thinking to Himself, “Hmmm…I think I’ll put that piano right here” as a piano hanging by a frayed rope is lowered from a 3rd story window just above my head.
And it’s not just me that He directs his humor toward. He also seems to enjoy dropping that proverbial piano on my daughter. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago we were attending the Grand March for my daughter’s high school prom. As she was walking out of the auditorium with her date and a group of friends, she suddenly just fell into a heap on the floor. I was standing with her date’s mother and a friend who gasped “Oh my gosh! She just fell down! Is she okay?” Without missing a beat, her date’s mother said “Oh, that’s just Amber. She always falls down. She’ll be okay.” And sure enough, she popped up off of the floor within seconds and continued on her way as though nothing had happened. That’s my girl!
This propensity for accidents goes way back. I don’t recall when it began, but I can certainly recall more than a few rather interesting incidents, the most interesting of which involve urgent trips to the emergency room.
Many years ago when my husband and I were first married and had moved to Minnesota, I had done theatre for our local civic theatre. I had acted in a couple of shows, worked backstage on a couple more, and even had the pleasure of stage managing a very small production. And, at the end of each major performance, it was customary for the cast and crew to go out for an evening of karaoke at the local bar. I had found my niche in my new home. My new husband, on the other hand, was quite the introvert at the time and had no real desire to attend our karaoke nights and so he stayed at home.
One evening after the opening of A Christmas Carol, the cast and crew headed out to the local karaoke bar to unwind and enjoy the complete ridiculousness of each other as we sang show tunes and whatnot. I’m not much for karaoke because I really can’t sing, but I had promised Troy I would sing at least once since that was the purpose of attending karaoke. So, to boost my courage, I had enjoyed one or two very small drinks before taking the stage. And, in the end, it wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated.
At this point, I think it’s important to give a disclaimer: I was not intoxicated. I was not drunk or “trashed” or wasted or anything of the kind. I had simply had two drinks over the course of a couple of hours. As the events of the night unfolded, however, it became impossible for me to convince anyone of the truth. And, to be honest, I guess I can’t blame them.
As the evening wore on, I had joined some friends who were playing darts. I’d never played and – predictably – was terrible at it! If I even hit the board, I was lucky; and the darts never stuck. They just smacked into the board and fell lifelessly to the floor. It was mortifying, but I persisted. I was determined to hit that board at least once!
After some time of playing, I finally hit the board…and it was a BULLSEYE! I’m still not sure how it happened, but I was so elated that I began jumping up and down, cheering for my own sports prowess! Ladies, you know this but I’m going to tell this to the guys: wearing high-heeled boots and jumping up and down is a very bad idea! In the process of my own self-congratulation, I managed to hurt my left foot rather badly, and slunk to the floor in a heap. I didn’t know what I’d done, but I’d hurt my foot and now couldn’t walk. I had to be helped off the floor and practically carried to a table. Of course, since I’d had one or two tiny drinks, my friends wouldn’t listen to me. They assumed I was intoxicated and wouldn’t hear that I’d hurt my foot. They took my keys away and I was forced to sit there until the bar closed at around 2:00 a.m. These were in the days before everyone had cell phones and I really had difficulty walking, so I couldn’t get up to find a phone to call Troy. I was stuck.
When the bar closed, my friends graciously drove me home and returned my car. And not surprisingly, when I walked into the house, Troy was livid. It was nearly 3:00 a.m. and I hadn’t even called to tell him where I was or when I was coming home. He was worried and justifiably angry, and he stormed up the stairs to our bedroom once he knew that I was home and safe.
When I was reasonably sure Troy was asleep, I carefully made my way to our room where I retired for the night. But that was only the beginning. I awoke very early the next morning with an urgent need to relieve myself. By this point my foot was in a great deal of pain and I was limping drastically as I made my way to the bathroom. And that’s the last thing I remember. Somewhere in the next few moments, Troy slammed the bathroom door open and was furious because there’d been a loud boom in the bathroom and I’d awakened him. He was going to give me the piece of his mind that he’d withheld the previous evening. He opened the door and shouted “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU…” and then he just stopped and stared at me with a stupefied expression on your face.
In a much calmer but now panicked voice, Troy said, “Honey…are you okay?” He helped me to a standing position before the mirror and said, “Honey…look what you’ve done!”
I was only conscious long enough to see the 3-inch gash resembling a “third eye” above my right eye near the hairline, and then I slunk to the floor again. Troy rushed to the bedroom, and this is the conversation as I heard it from the bathroom floor as Troy called 9-1-1.
“My wife has fallen and she has a large gash on her forehead. I think we need an ambulance. (pause) No….no…NO! I’m sure!…Okay, fine…I’ll ask…” From the bedroom Troy called out to me, “Honey…you haven’t taken any drugs have you?” I assured him in my most irritated and offended voice that I hadn’t, and then I heard him return to the phone to talk with the 9-1-1 dispatcher. “No. I told you. She didn’t take any drugs!”
After several more moments, Troy finished the call and then returned to the bathroom. It was literally just minutes later that the ambulance arrived and I was loaded onto a stretcher and taken to the hospital. As I was in the ambulance, I had stuck my foot out from beneath the blanket and was thinking to myself, “If I have time after they stitch me up, I think I’ll ask the doctor to look at my foot. But only if I have time because I have a 1 o’clock show today.”
I arrived at the hospital in short order, and was immediately taken back for a head and neck x-ray. As the doctor examined me, he noticed my badly bruised and swollen foot and inquired about what had happened. He thought it was probably a good idea to x-ray my foot since we were there, so off again I went to x-ray.
During this time, Troy was not allowed back into the exam room with me. In retrospect, we realized that the doctors were suspicious that I might be the victim of domestic violence, so they were keeping him separated from me until they could be sure that he was not involved in my injuries. When he was finally allowed back to my room, he was shocked to find not one, but three, doctors dealing with my injuries: one doctor was stitching up my head (6 stitches), another doctor was putting a cast on my broken foot, and the third doctor was standing over me trying to discover the reason I’d passed out in the first place (the verdict was dehydration).
Poor Troy. It was like he’d walked into an episode of The Twilight Zone. Because he was so angry when he went to bed the previous night, he had no idea that I’d injured my foot. His imagination was running rampant…did I get run over by the ambulance? What in the world happened?
In the end, I obviously never made my casting call that day and I had to be replaced in the show as my injured foot was not conducive to the dancing that my character required. I suppose I could live with that, but what’s been a little more challenging to swallow is the infamy that has followed that event.
It’s been almost 20 years since that incident, but people have memories. Every once in a while I’ll run into the director or someone from the theatre and they’ll say, “Wow! I was just talking about you the other day…I was telling the story of you breaking your foot!” Or, even worse is when I run into a complete stranger who says, “Oh my gosh! You’re Cathie? I’ve heard of you! You broke your foot during A Christmas Carol several years ago, didn’t you?” Ack!
As I’ve told my children countless times, “If you can’t learn to laugh at yourself, then you’ll be the only one not laughing while the rest of the world laughs at you.” To this end, I’m privately flattered that God enjoys me so much.
Opening night of A Christmas Carol was my last theatre production ever. I’m afraid to go back. Apparently, when someone tells me to “Break a leg,” I don’t know any better than to take it quite literally.