VINTAGE JANE: Literary Lions

This is one of my favorite blog posts because it’s just so me.

Yes, I can look glamorous in a headshot, but the truth is, I’m rather dorky. You’ll see in this blog why Surfer Ty calls me “Stumblelina.”

Literary Lions
originally posted to the JaneBlog on March 11, 2006

I hurt. Not mentally, it’s more of a bruised ego thing, as well as a shin, arm and shoulder thing, too. You see I fell down the stairs tonight at a big event. In front of everyone. Just when I was feeling so literary.

Back up–set scene, Bellevue’s big downtown library, elegant evening fundraiser honoring corporate sponsors and outstanding authors (yes, I was invited, and it might have been a fluke, especially after I tumbled down their grand cement staircase). I arrived alone and was nervous. No one knows I’m nervous because I wear so much make up and my hair is shiny and straight but I took my special badge, the one with the big black ribbon that reads ‘AUTHOR’ in fancy gold letters and headed up the staircase to find a glass of wine and mingle as instructed.

Bellevue’s big regional library has a prominent staircase with a landing in the middle. Halfway up the second flight, I glance above me, see all the elegant people in their black tie and formal wear, think to myself, I shouldn’t have worn brown, shouldn’t have come alone, should have brought Joan as she offered to come, especially as I feel self-conscious wearing my big black author ribbon.

And that’s when it happened. BAM. Blaaaah. Ooooof. Although it actually happened much faster than that. More like Bam, Bla, Uf. And because I was carrying my camera, I couldn’t let it drop so I used my shin and forearm to take the brunt of the fall. Super smart move. Shins, elbows and forearms are so well padded.

An elderly couple to my left rushed to my side, lifted me to my feet, and supported me the rest of the way up the staircase.

It was one of my finer moments, I can you tell that.

And I can also tell you this: I wished I was wearing black, not brown. I wished I had brought someone with me so elderly people didn’t have to support me up the stairs. AND I wished, oh how I wished, I wasn’t wearing my big black ribbon with the gold letters AUTHOR. Because standing red-faced and stiff (how does one stiffen up that fast? Tell me it’s shock, not age) at the top of the stairs I really felt like a Literary Lion.

No, make that a dinosaur.

Have you ever taken an embarrassing spill? Made a major faux pas when you were trying to be oh-so professional? Share one of your red-faced moments and I’ll love you for it!


  1. YOUR ARE NOT ALONE! I have had more than one horrific tumbles, but I’ll share the one that was the worst! My husband and I were invited to attend a college basketball game. Our seats were up high in this STEEP row of seats. We reached the row, had to scoot by a few people to reach the seats and then it happened… My foot caught someone’s hood which was on the back of their seat and I fell, loudly, and with such clumsiness right into someone’s lap! I thought for sure they would put it on the jumbo-tron! It felt like the whole arena saw it! I immediately wanted to leave. How could I enjoy the game. Sad thing was, I hadn’t even been drinking.

  2. OH MY…I too must say, you are not alone! And these moments happen just when you’ve forgotten what a klutz you can be. I had to go to a funeral a couple of months ago, and the church was just packed as the gentleman had been very prominent in the community, and as we were all filing out and as it came my turn to exit the pew, I genuflected and as I came up I lost my balance and stumbled drunkenly in the main aisle for a few moments…all the while watching the horrified expressions of those around me. Lovely.

    I took my granddaughters to see “Up” yesterday and as we were waiting for the movie to start, a woman stumbled as she was going towards a seat and although popcorn and soft drink went flying in a wide arc, she was thankfully unhurt.

    There, but for the grace of God, go us all.

    Stumblelina hmmm? And he SEEMED so nice! : )

  3. Jane, it is this kind of blog that makes you so loveable to those of us who do not know you personally.

    I have so many clutzy moments… but this is beyond a faux pas:

    Twelve years ago I had a friend pass unexpectedly and the visitation was “open-casket”. We are closed-casket people in my family. I was so freaked out by seeing my friend in that state that I accidentally introduced her poor grief-striken parents by the wrong names and no one told me until after it was all over.

    All this time later, I still cringe and blush with embarassment!

  4. Dear Jane, I just got confirmation that MY very own copy of “Easy of the Eyes” has shipped! Your new book is launched and on it’s way to me…!

  5. Ok, I have to share this story because I can relate to yours. A few years ago my husband and I were with his family walking around Pikes Market in Seattle. We were watching a protest and decided to head across the street to a wine shop. I looked away and the next thing I know my husband is asking me if I’m ok and for some reason I feel something hard on my face. It turns out it was cement. I had tripped over the sidwalk and fallen flat on my face. My sunglasses broke and made a small cut above my eye. While my husband was trying to help me, a homeless man came up to us and offered the wrapper from his hamburger for us to use to apply pressure on my eye to get the bleeding to stop, only he hadn’t taken the hamburger out of the wrapper first. Next thing I know the chief of Seattle police department came along and called the paramedics for me. After I received 4 stitches at the hospital, we still managed to make it to the 5th inning of the Mariner’s game. We laugh about it now and I’ve since been back and taken pictures of my “famous” corner.

  6. Oh, dear. It looks like I’m in good company! My family’s suffered through so many of my mishaps…Two years ago I was one of the eight lectors at our parish’s Easter Vigil. The first seven readings are always done in complete darkness except for the light at the ambo. I was lector #2, reading the story of Abraham and Isaac…I got through my reading, did a nice dramatic powerful reading if I may say so myself…then when the altar server came with her flashlight to escort me down the three steps to my assigned seat in the pew, I forgot there were three steps…and I tripped–in high heels!
    Imagine a packed church in complete hushed silence and then hearing a startled ‘Shiiiooot!’ I skidded and wobbled and half fell to the floor and the poor altar server was so embarrassed and unsure what to do. I caught myself before ending up in a heap on the floor…and thank heavens I was able to turn the sh*t into shoot!

    Oh, and there was a time I was the lector on a Sunday morning had to use the ladies room before Mass…I came running out to line up at the last minute and reverently carried in the Gospels book…with a long piece of toilet paper stuck on the bottom of my shoe…

    I seem to do things at church–i was the lector again and back in the sacristy, and the bishop was visiting us. I tripped on a tear in the rug–again I had on high heels–and went flying into the bishop’s arms. We sort of froze in each other’s arms…our pastor at the time looked horrified. The bishop laughed and said ‘Good Morning to you, too!’ Argh.

  7. I was walking up to the mid-block crosswalk to the Bellevue Square Mall and saw that the city had just installed the kind of signals that “count-down” the amount of time left. I was in no hurry, but stupidly responded to that stimulus by deciding to hurry across the street before time ran out. I took about two steps and SPLAT, landed on the dirty street on my right arm (I had a puffy coat on which was like padding) and my face bounced down to the pavement and back up like a ball. I was so embarrassed I scrambled up and back to the sidewalk almost instantaneously, but someone must have called 911 because a cop appeared on a bicycle to help before the stars were gone from my vision! All the people in cars looked shocked, as I had hit my head on the street very hard. There was a first aid station nearby the cop walked me to, and he gave me ice for my face and cleaned up my skinned arm and determined I was ok and didn’t need the aid car. No broken bones, no ripped clothes, but lots of bruises (including my self-esteem) and plenty of witnesses. I am just grateful I got up too fast for anyone to take a photo of my face plant on Bellevue Way with their cell phone and then post it on the web.
    Jane, isn’t there a sculpture of a lion on that stair landing – maybe a literary lion? Those cement stairs must have been HARD!

  8. I don’t normally fall down (knock on wood!) but I have my share of mortifying moments, believe you me.

    Case in point: I spent the morning with my son’s Kindergarten class, and he asked me if I would give him a piggyback ride on the way home. Since we live just a few streets away from the school, I agreed. He jumped on my back and we were off.

    We had recently moved into the neighborhood, so I was shocked at how many cars were honking and waving at us as we walked down the street. Most were people I didn’t know, but I kept telling myself how fortunate we were to move into such a friendly neighborhood.
    Each time I’d wave back to the drivers, my son would tighten his grip around my collar, and I’d give him a little bounce to reposition him.

    We’d been walking for about five minutes (and passed DOZENS of cars) when a particularly obnoxious man wolf-whistled at me and made a rude gesture. About the same time, I felt the mist of a sprinkler hit my stomach. I looked down at my shirt, only to find it had been twisted up around my neck. There I was, inadvertently flashing my bra and flabby midsection to the neighbors, and I had been doing so for the duration of our walk.

    Talk about an “Odd Mom Out” moment…

  9. Hi all! To Sally Johnson speaking of funerals! I was at the funeral of my neighbor who was like a second mother to me. I was chewing gum which I never do and leaned over Louise’s casket and I don’t know why but out came my gum in her casket and I couldn’t find it. Quietly I whispered to her son that my gum was with his mother to which he replied don’t worry it’ll probably just go with her.

  10. Well, my husband calls me Grace, enough said. One of my shining moments of disgrace and complete shame happened at my high school graduation. I TRIPPED ONSTAGE in front of my entire school and family,as I was being handed my diploma by the Superintendant of schools for the ENTIRE STATE I LIVE IN-luckily, he caught me. So, no Jane, you are not alone – there are plenty of “us” out there. Its been “a few” years since this incident and I can still remember it clearly.

  11. #9 Patricia………..OMG! I’m sorry, but that is so stinkin’ funny. That’s something that would only happen in a Stephanie Plum novel. Hopefully you can laugh about it now. It sure brought a smile to my face!

    And, no, I’m not perfect. I have had my share of “whoops! did I just do that?” moments that I have tried to block many of them out. My mom called me “grace” until I was about 21 – the time I got married and moved out. I was always falling down and skinning my knees and elbows. I could trip over a dust bunny if it got in my way.

    College graduation 1994. I walked across the stage, shook hands, received my fake diploma, and let out a huge a- la Arsenio Hall “Whoo, whoo, whoo!” Don’t ask me what I was thinking. I had a brain fart. I was embarrassed and thought for sure that had come out of someone else’s mouth. No, it came out of mine and my husband asked me when he found me later, “What in the world came over you?” Yeah, a shining moment for sure.

    Growing up in the Sierra Nevada foothills just above Millerton Lake had so many advantages, especially during the summer with loads of skiing and sunbathing. Don’t ever water ski in a bikini! Ever! I hit the water so fast my bikini bottoms went flying off in the opposite direction of my butt. My friends in the boat were laughing so hard I’m lucky they found my bottoms before they sank or got sucked up in the engine! Ugh.

    No, dear friend, you are not alone.

  12. My writers group used to meet at Bellevue Public Library until a mean, bad librarian kicked us out on our literary butts! We had too many writer in the little conference room. I think just one writer too many. Will never forget that. But I do love that I was kicked out of a library… At least you fell out!

  13. Jane, I got my copy of Easy on the Eyes today in the mail from Amazon! I am so excited! Can’t wait to start reading! : )

  14. Oh gosh, I’m cringing right with you. What a moment. I must say, I haven’t had any personal moments like that, but when I used to dance, there was more than one time where I took a tumble, or turned the wrong way and ran into a fellow dancer, etc. I just kept going and smiled…

  15. No, friends, you are definitely
    not alone! I recall some years
    back we were on the way into one of our downtown hospitals. We were on a perfectly flat, clear sidewalk, yet I still tripped and fell, knees first. Luckily, it did not happen a few minutes earlier, because I would have been in the middle of the street! When I called
    Honey to check a detail for this blog, he started through a list of my most ungraceful moments. BTW, I eventually had to have knee surgery to repair the damage caused by multiple tumbles!!

    Pat Cochran

  16. You so are not alone- and it seems the more important the event the bigger the tumble.
    Unfortunately 3 of the little diva’s have inherited this tendency, the youngest so much so that she has made falling an artform.
    I stopped by to say hi from ANM’s Easy On The Eyes: Hollywood Nights Chicklit Extravaganza Contest.

  17. Oh you poor dears. . I literally stumble thru life because I only have one eye and that means no depth perception.

    Recently I walked from Union Square San Francisco to Chinatown. This involved not only the hill but bumpy brick streets, uneven curbs. A man in our group loaned me his arm so I could feel where I was.

    I visited the new Science Academy in San Francisco last month. Glass walls everywhere! I saw one kid crash into the glass wall of the piazza and flatten himself. Later I came out of the BUGS show and thankfully was looking at my feet when I crashed into another glass wall. I hit my forehead instead of my nose which would have surely splattered over my entire face had it been the recipient. My head was sore for a month!

    One cant learn depth perception but I have accepted being clutsy. What irks me is whenever anyone falls the world wants them to GET UP IMMEDIATELY. I like to sit and hurt a few seconds before I am put back into motion.

  18. Jane, I loved the surprise that came in yesterday’s mail! You have a great PR group! I love the pen especially. I’ll tell my book club about the new book.

  19. I still cringe when I remember being 17 years old and on a school ski trip to a local resort. I was sitting on the chairlift next to a cute guy from my class, and I was so nervous I started swinging my feet. You know how they tell you to point the tips up when you’re about to get off? Well, I kept swinging. The tips of my skis got caught and I vaulted off the chairlift (thankfully we’d raised the safety bar) and fell face-first into a pile of snow. They had to stop the lift and come and haul me out. Such humiliation!!

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