Smooth: Ucharted Territory

klutz  “Smooth” is not an adjective commonly associated with me. In fact, my high school field hockey coach described me as “spastic” and my friends nicknamed me “the turtle,” short for the awkward turtle. I drop my phone at least once a day and I often talk without thinking, which almost always results in socially-painful, but hilariously misconstrued sentences. I fall, I hit myself on accident when pulling up a shirtsleeve, and joke that I have a minimum daily quota for awkwardness. Smoothness was uncharted territory for me, I had witnessed smoothness in the past, but it was unfamiliar to me, Katie the kluz, the arch bishop of awkwardness, the great bambino of botched speech. Among the many examples of un-smoothness that arose when considering this prompt, one specific example stood out in my many memories of ungraceful events and self-inflicted awkwardness.

In October of 2015, I attended a massive rock concert in Kentucky and participated in one of my least-smooth acts…ever. The concert was ending and a mass of drunken festival-goers trudged towards the parking lot like Salmon swimming upstream. My friends, Josh and Sara, and I had driven from New Jersey to Kentucky, but when Josh and Sara turned to enter the lot where we had parked, I kept walking straight ahead, following the rest of the crowd towards the next lot.

By the time I noticed I was way off course, I turned to see an eight foot fence between me and my friends, whom were waving and shouting to get my attention. I could have walked around the fence, back to where they had turned, but being me, I decided it would be easier to climb the chain link fence. I was wearing leggings and though I scampered up the fence quickly, when I got to the top and was attempting to swing my second leg over, it got caught.

There I was, straddling a fence, my face towards Josh and Sara and my behind towards hundreds of people. I debated what to do- do I  rip my own leggings to free them and climb over?  Do I pull and climb down the fence, walking around the parking lot instead? I tried to balance my right hand on the pointed top of the fence and untangle my leggings with my left hand, but I couldn’t balance like that for long and went back to holding the fence with both hands. Then I heard someone behind me, a man’s voice I did not recognize.

“Hey, you need some help?” I couldn’t see him because I was too caught in the fence to turn and face him.

“Yeah” I admitted sheepishly. The chain link fence swayed as he began to climb. Again, I tried to free my leggings from the fence, but as I went to pull, the fence swayed and I was toppling over the other side. Flailing, I managed to grab the fence on the way down, then dropped ungracefully to the ground.

“Actually, I’m fine.” Now that I was facing the opposite direction I could see the face of the man who was trying to help me. Still gripping the fence, he was laughing quietly. As I brushed myself off he descended the fence. He was wearing jeans and a green T-shirt and his eyes were blue, but his beard and messy hair were brown. Just as he had appeared, he left, walking off into the darkness.

Josh and Sara were waiting for me in the car when I climbed the small hill to them. They were laughing and I followed Sara’s gaze to my leggings. The left side was ripped from the top of my thigh down to my knee, a black flap of fabric dangling from the gap. Josh tossed me his red and black flannel shirt, which I tied around my waist and as always, kept moving.

If I could rid myself of being the ultimate klutz, the unsmoothest of the smooth, I wouldn’t. Besides the fact that tripping down stairs or ripping my pants provides laughter, my klutz moments also help define me as an individual. How many people can tell the embarrassing story I just told out of direct experience? How many people can tell this story with a smile on their face and without shame in their heart. I am not smooth, I have never been smooth, and for as long as I live I will remain a klutz and a spaz and love myself regardless.

When I sat in the backseat and Sara fully examined my destroyed leggings, she laughed again.

“Smooth,” she said sarcastically.

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