so that happened

Clumsy Is as Clumsy Does

Hit the ground running

I am astonishingly clumsy.

I know people often say things like that. They laugh and say “Ooh, I’m such a klutz!” and it’s endearing in a kooky kind of way. Often what they mean is that they dropped their pen a couple of days ago, or they spilled coffee on the table when they put their mug down a little too vigorously.

I am not the endearing, kooky kind of clumsy. I am the full-on, disaster-waiting-to-happen, miracle-I-haven’t-broken-bones-yet, guaranteed-public-humiliation kind of clumsy.

Last month, I was in town chatting with a friend when I tripped. I didn’t trip on the pavement, or on a broken cobblestone. I didn’t even trip on the sneaky leg of an English spy in a bowler hat, hiding behind a newspaper, trying to keep me from accidentally stumbling onto the scene of an international investigation.

I tripped on my own foot.

The toe of my left boot managed to catch the heel of my right foot and I stumbled forward at an angle no human is capable of holding for very long. In an excruciatingly protracted series of movements, I tried valiantly to regain my footing. My friend, startled by my sudden lunge forward, put out her arms to catch me. I caught myself for a fraction of a second – and my friend sighed and pulled back, relieved – before barrelling forward for the second act. Finally, my feet admitted defeat and I hit the tarmac in a hard but almost graceful gliding motion.

Note I said almost.

Once I regained the breath that had been knocked out of me, I rolled over onto my back, laughing. A woman who had been passing by was standing over me with a hand pressed to her chest, her mouth a silent O of horror. My friend, eyes wide, was laughing with a hand over her mouth, which is generally accepted to be the polite way to show you’re concerned but also highly entertained.

The strange woman stepped forward, her handbag swinging from her elbow, and said, “Oh my God, are you alright?”

The last time a stranger asked that of me it was a different woman, with a different handbag, bending over me as I got sick in the gutter at 4am after having had several too many. I briefly considered the fact that strangers only ever use this particular phrase when they are appalled by what they are witnessing.

I thanked her and brushed myself off and reassured everybody that I was fine. I was! I was fine. Only my thigh and my elbow and my ego were grazed in the fall.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago as I sat at the LUAS stop.

As is my habit, I tucked one Adidas Superstar up underneath me on the bench as I waited, listening to music on my phone. As the LUAS pulled up, I took a stride towards it and immediately faceplanted in a perfect arc. This time there was no protracted slow-motion experience. This time I was sitting one moment, and face to the concrete the next.

The aglet of my shoelace had caught in one of the drainage holes of the bench.

Every passenger on the LUAS stared at me through the windows. A girl who had been waiting with me stepped forward before I even knew what had happened. She deftly unhooked me from the bench, leaving me feeling like a salmon who had just had a lucky interaction with a catch-and-release fisherman.

“There you go!” She said cheerfully as she popped the aglet out through the hole. “These things happen!”

“Thanks,” I said. I didn’t bother to explain that these things happen to me with alarming frequency.

I limped onto the LUAS and walked past the many silently staring passengers with my shoelace dragging behind me. No bruises this time. My immunity is building.

These things are bound to keep happening to me. I know it. I accept it.

I can only hope that eventually, I will stop feeling shame.

I will have been innoculated by experience.


  • bexoxo

    We are one in the same in this regard. Really. I constantly tell Fella that I’m in desperate need of a human bubble before something serious happens.

    Most recently, we were out walking the doggos as you do… One second, I’m happily trailing my pup with her leash in one hand, and a doggie bag (not the good kind) in the other, when all of a sudden, my ankle twists, and my whole body is being thrown to one side. Luckily, it was the side with nicely manicured, spongy grass. But in an effort to not land on the hard leash, I instead landed, face first into the tied up bag of poo that had fallen out of my hand while trying to catch myself. I too, had to roll over and have a giggle fit, only I didn’t have a woman hover over me to see if I was okay; I had my pupper and her very enthusiastic kisses telling me that she loved me despite my poor walking abilities. 🙂

    • Quinn

      Hahaha a human bubble! That would be amazing but also so frustrating. I can’t imagine doing my leisurely grocery shop in a bubble. I JUST WANT TO GRAB THOSE STRAWBERRIES!

      I’m glad you were cushioned (although not glad you were cushioned by dog poop) and that your dog was there to kiss it better. Ha!

  • Angela

    Oh Quinn I feel your pain! I have more tumbles than my one year old niece.
    I actually thought there was something seriously wrong with me for a while. My most embarrassing fall was at the 1 mile marker of my first half marathon I don’t even know what I tripped over (air?) but after flying for a bit I landed with my head wedged under a parked car and 12 more miles to run with holes in the knees of my trousers! FYI grazed skin and sweat stings!!!!!
    I just remembered another time I was getting off the train and my heel of my right shoe got stuck inside my left shoe sending me flying, before I could separate my feet and get up the train doors had closed and was hurtling its way to next station!
    Thanks for making me feel ‘normal’ 😝 Hopefully you have no more face planting for a while 🤕

  • manvsloneliness

    Hey I mean, at least you own it like a bad-ass. Laugh it off, walk it off, there’s way more dignity in that then in those people (me) who try to pretend it never happened, and that we just always move around like we’re either from the Ministry of Silly Walks or our legs suffer from phantom limb syndrome. If you can’t be graceful in motion, be graceful in attitude.

  • This is Loit!

    You know what an anglet is. That’s cool….my 5 yr old just slipped and fell on her face as she always does and then blamed her brother…perhaps one day she willl learn to handle it with your confidence and sass. I have to go and break that thing up she is ready to bite him.


    Its super fun to have some quirk or habit or trait that is meant to be all girlish and whimsical, but on you, it is just a monster of ridiculousness lol I have night terrors. I am not whimpering and waking up with sweat running down into my perky cleavage and being like “ooooo hold me, I’m frightened” I’m like ” AHHHHHHH FUCKING CRAB CAKES ARE EATING ME! FUCK YOU! I WILL KICK THE CRAB CAKES!” It’s not cute, its not girlish lol Love you Quinny! ( can I call you Quinny?)

    • Quinn

      I am like this too, only I wake up and tell Scrubs about my dream in horrifying detail and he probably wonders what on earth is wrong with me!

  • Anthony

    So, you’ve raised clumsiness to an art form. I do hope that at worst it is only your ego that ever gets damaged (and I don’t even want that to happen).

    I wish I could offer some solace, or at the very least, some empathy. Alas, while I have many difficulty (social clumsiness among them) physical clumsiness is not a particularly typical even from me.

    Though, I did fall on one of my first group rides trying to get out of my clipless pedals–everyone in the group said it had happened to them as well and nothing more was said.

    Be safe.

    • Quinn

      Hahaha! I’m glad you are innately graceful. I have actually steered well clear of all professional bicycles because the pedals and clip in shoe combinations look like a death trap for me! I think you had to fall at least once! Glad you weren’t injured.

  • Adeline

    I don’t even attempt to hide my bruises under appropriately length-ed skirts or shirts anymore. Fuck it. It’d require too much coverage and it’s been in the triple digits here, I ain’t burying myself under cotton until Winter has officially hit. And really, there’s no need to attempt to hide the proof of my lack of coordination. Everyone knows that I get tangled in my own limbs and never notice coffee tables or walls no matter how long those household items have lived in that spot. I’m like an apple- bruised- no shame.

    • Quinn

      This is my attitude as well. Screw it! I’m glad I don’t actually bruise easily so bruises aren’t usually my problem – grazes and cuts though…. All over the place!

  • Soul Gifts

    Oh dear, a kindred spirit. I have had more falls than I care to remember. I’m sorry to say it gets no better as we age. But you’re right, the immunity builds up. The most memorable ones are falling down the stairs at work, tumbling down the steps from an airplane(seriously!), and most recently ending up face down in the gutter in the middle of a country town main street -

  • Lindsey Mayfield

    Girl, I get it! My mom is SUPER clumsy (like tripping over a couch cushion and breaking a wrist clumsy) and I am headed there as well.

    One time, when walking downtown, I stepped off a curb unexpectedly and crashed my body into a parked car before catching myself on a light pole. The good news is there was some sort of conference going on, so there were people EVERYWHERE. I’m glad your bystanders offered to help! Mine just stared at me like, “poor thing…”

    • Quinn

      Oh no, I’m hoping for no broken bones around here! What kind of rude bystanders just gawk?! You’ll have to come to Ireland to experience friendly, awkwardly helpful strangers!

  • jacquelineannemarielarkin

    If it’s any consolation, I frequently walk into walls and sign posts and seemingly manage to choke on nothing. Over time, I’ve learned there is grace in our clumsy moments – mainly in how we recover from them. Whether it be an itty bitty embarrassing moment or a cataclysmic tumble down the stairs infront of half your university English Lit class (true story). Just ‘walk it off’ as best you can! At the very least, it makes us more physically resilient.
    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to checking out more of your blog in the future!

    • Quinn

      I have walked into a pole or two in my time. Never feels good. I think laughing is really the only thing you can do – it IS funny, even when it hurts!

  • Jeff Cann

    Too bad aglet wasn’t the daily prompt. Not everyone can use aglet in a story. WordPress doesn’t even recognize the word aglet. There, I used aglet 3 times, no 4 now in this comment.

    • Quinn

      I wonder if aglet would ever be a daily prompt. I can’t imagine too many people have stories about aglets…!

  • Awkwardly Alive

    I’m so glad I’m not alone!! I totally can relate to this. I have bruises all up and down my legs because I bump into things constantly. I once broke my leg by falling off of a hammock. We should start a club and make t-shirts: “WARNING: WALKING DISASTER.”

    • Quinn

      Oh my God I need this shirt!

      Also falling off a hammock and breaking a leg isn’t clumsiness, that is a TALENT.

  • Chloe Taylor

    I found this site while looking up ‘why am I so clumsy, yet graceful in heels’. By the way, no answer to this Internet query, so I will intrepidly continue tripping, falling, banging, and sprawling through life in shoes with less than 1-1/2” heel. I have knocked myself unconscious multiple times, broken my jaw and a couple of teeth, received hundreds of abrasions and bruises, several avulsions, and sprained so many tendons and ligaments that I’ve lost track.

    However, put me in a pair of 4-5” stilettos, and I’m the very picture of grace. My elegant self emerges, like a glorious butterfly, and I’m transformed. But the second those heels are kicked off – I return to my Buster Keaton self. I’m certainly not concentrating on balance and motion while wearing heels because my mind is always focused on more important matters. It’s as if it’s instinctual because I can walk on all types of surfaces, stairs aren’t a problem, dancing is way easier, and even running (ok, not flat-out running) is doable in the highest, thinnest heel.

    Just don’t get it.

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