Steps Must Be Taken
I’M GENERALLY PRETTY AGREEABLE. It’s easy to get along with me and I try not to be too grumpy. Unfortunately the world does not always cooperate.
For example: Stairs.
Stairs and I do not agree. I want them to not be there, but stairs demand that I go up or down. I end up just trying to avoid the situation altogether. I would prefer a one level world.
Even as a child I had “issues” with stairs. Going up and down stairs while wearing a steel leg brace was neither easy nor fun. I took my share of tumbles. I learned to bounce at an early age. There were times when I would come down the stairs from our second floor like a Slinky. It looked funny, but avoided cuts and bruises.
Part of the problem, even today, as I am firmly set in Geezerdom is that my two legs do not always agree on which way I really want to go. My brain may decide that I am going to go up the stairs so my right leg goes into action heading UP. The next thing is for my left leg to cooperate and mimic my right leg. However… My left leg, which is not always attached to my brain, will have other ideas. It may go along and go upward, but it just as easily may decide, “I’m not going anywhere,” or even, “I think I’ll go down.” You can see where this might cause problems. It is even more fun when I’m trying to head DOWN those stairs.
You would think that this nonsense would make me afraid of stairs, but I’m not. We are just like the two Koreas – we get along most of the time, but every so often we have little skirmishes and call each other names.
The only time that stairs scared me was onstage.
I was in two different productions of the Musical Play “Man of La Mancha” doing the role of Sancho Panza. If you have ever seen that show anywhere you know that Sancho and Quixote make their initial entrance down a long and steep flight of rickety stairs.
Every night an hour before the curtain I would go up and down those stairs without my glasses on until I felt comfortable. At least that was the theory. It never really worked. Sancho is supposed to look scared, even terrified, as he descends into the dungeon at the bottom of those stairs. I wasn’t acting. That was real terror in my eyes.
In college I was in a production of “Hamlet.” It was a large scale revolving stage…and a curving wooden staircase that I had to navigate every night. Making their entrance Claudius, the King and Queen Gertrude regally descended the staircase followed by me, Polonius, the King’s Advisor. After I was down to the stage level a half ton of football players backstage would push and rotate that set and the stairs would vanish into a wall.
One night I was having some trouble and moving a little slow down those stairs. I was about three steps from the bottom when I heard the Stage Manager cue the football team, “Hit it!” and they started to rotate the stage. I never moved faster in my life down those last three steps. I got to the floor but couldn’t stop spinning. Claudius, the King grabbed me and whispered, sotto voce, “Are you OK?” The audience giggled a bit; after all, I was supposed to be some comic relief in the play. Later, the Stage Manager and I had a little talk about his timing.
After those incidents I made sure to avoid shows with stairs whenever possible.
These days my battles with stairs rarely have audiences. It is a one-on-one struggle. I hold on to the handrail and carry on. Sometimes I win…sometimes it takes me a while to achieve my goal.
I feel like I live in an M.C. Escher world.