I’ve been clumsy my entire life.
Once, in kindergarten, we had a “circus day.” My classmates and I were supposed to dress up as circus people and perform as our parents wandered through the classrooms.
My mother tried to talk me into being a clown, but my heart was set on being an acrobat. I pulled on my white tights and pink leotard and strapped myself to the hot vinyl seat of her big car, anxious and excited about the day.
It was a disaster.
My parents came over to watch me do my routine. My mother held our black miniature poodle, Countess, in one arm. Countess was wearing her little clown costume.
My dad said “Go on, do something!” I did the only thing I could do – a somersault.
Dad said, “That’s it? How about a cartwheel?”
“I can’t do a cartwheel,” I said.
“Well, if you want to be an acrobat, you have to do a cartwheel,” he said. “In fact, you can’t be an acrobat if you can’t do a cartwheel.”
They stood there in silence, looking at me, looking away, looking at the ceiling. A vague air of embarrassment hung all around us. I could feel them thinking, “Please don’t look at our daughter the so-called acrobat. She’s five already and she can’t even do a cartwheel.”
And somewhere deep inside of me I thought, “I should have been a clown.”