"How do you not make a mistake?" the woman in the coffee shop said looking at the drawing.
"They're ALL mistakes . . . "
There was this wall behind our house in Harrisonburg. Well, there still is.
On our side of the wall, it was about a two foot step up, but on the other side, it was about a ten foot drop into our neighbor's yard. There were three pretty sisters who lived in the house on the other side of the wall. I used to walk along this wall on the way home, thrilled by the balance and the contrast of the right-side drop and the left side step. Also, there was always the chance that I would be invited to come play and that would turn into kissing and touching and stuff.
It never did.
So, this one time back in high school, I'm walking along the precipice and one of the daughter's comes out and shouts something to a friend and I turn my head to see what's going on and my foot steps out into space and my other foot follows and I have a moment out of a Warner Brothers cartoon where I am floating in the ten foot space above their yard.
Then, just like Wile E. Coyote, my legs fall and then my torso falls, and then my head, with the frozen look of "What the . . . ?" still on my face, falls. Then my backpack crashes on top of me and my papers, books and quizzes go everywhere. And I am on my back in a crumpled heap in their back yard.
I look up to see the pretty middle daughter staring at me, jaw dropped, just like I am a pimply, plump teenager who has stupidly fallen into her back yard, like I am what I have always feared I was.
But I am resourceful and clever and I think fast on or off my feet. So I stand up, clap my hands together and loudly say, "I knew I could do it!" And I gather my books and quizzes and exit the scene with grace and dignity.
And a slight limp.
It just looks better when I do it with ink . . .