On Being Princess ‘Grace’
I’m just going to say it: things happen to me. Or perhaps it’s that I happen to things. I am the one who severely broke my ankle in my own home trying to take a photo of my dog, after all. That is only one of the more interesting things that have happened over the years. Take two nights ago, for example; I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom as I always do, and as I started to walk out of the small water closet in the dark, I walked right into the corner of the doorframe, hitting my head as hard as I can ever remember hitting it- I saw stars and have a very healthy lump on my forehead and a dull headache as a temporary reminder. I stumbled to bed and did my best to jostle Dan awake to get some much-needed sympathy, since the dogs didn’t seem to care much one way or the other.
The moment I knew I might possibly be cursed happened on stage during an outdoor concert in the park. The conductor was a dear friend of mine from Florida State days, now an associate conductor of the Alabama Symphony. We were playing a pops concert with a movie theme, and it was a sticky, hot, Alabama night, complete with bugs crawling on your music and flying in your mouth when you tried to breathe. We started the John Williams medley, and when we got to the dramatic ending of E.T., all of the sudden it felt like I’d been stung by a giant bee on my top lip and I just bent over double. It seemed that out of all the people in the orchestra, when the conductor gestured rather enthusiastically, his baton flew out of his grip and hit me right in the lip, missing the second violins and the flutes. My lip swelled up, making me look like I had a bad Botox habit. It was not pretty, but I made it through the rest of the concert after some ice during intermission.
Then there was the staged performance of Porgy and Bess to a sold out audience and on a packed stage when I enjoyed the full effects of the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had…on stage, in front of fifteen hundred people and a very unlucky woodwind section. I can still see the sweet second clarinet player bravely trying to hand me a barf bag, but it was too late, and my skirt had to bear the brunt of the excitement. I did manage to play all of my bass clarinet solos, though. I’ve had grand exits from stage as well, like the time I left between pieces as the conductor was talking to the audience and accidentally hit the chimes. Oh, and the time that I tried to leave the stage at an outdoor concert carrying too many instruments and stands and pulled over one of the French horn player’s music stands. He was not happy. Both the horns and the percussion section make a wide berth for me now when they see me walk in with the bass clarinet and stand….I don’t blame them. And the time when I stepped on the hem of my long recital gown and tripped walking on stage- nothing like starting off with a bang. I trip over my own feet on a regular basis, and sometimes miss chairs when I attempt to sit down. I don’t know what it is, but it could be genetic. My little sister says that she’s been told she should be wrapped in bubble wrap because of her own ‘gracefulness’, and my big sister recently tripped over an electric blanket cord while trying to make her bed and messed up her knees…and then sprained her finger while attempting to move a flower pot to clean just hours later.
My students laugh and shake their heads when I trip over the clarinet pegs in my office or knock the music stand over as I walk past it to look for some music. I have decided that when I get old, I will be just like the sweet-but-befuddled Aunt Clara from the old ‘Bewitched’ show. I might as well own it and practice to become the best Princess Grace that I can be. I will work hard to make it to the endearing side rather than the, “Oh my God- she is pathetic” side. Maybe klutzy can be the new in-thing….or maybe my luck will change. Until that time, I will hold my head high…and try to watch where my feet- and the rest of me- go. if nothing else- laughter is the best medicine