Klutzdom Can Kill (But Doesn’t Have To)

Have you ever dumped an entire roast turkey — drippings, stuffing and all — on the floor as you slid the pan from the oven? Knocked over a store display with a shopping cart? Slammed the car door on your raincoat hem, and then fallen hobbled to the pavement? In front of God and everybody?

Story of my life. Or, at least, of random moments in it. Moments that suddenly, dangerously, and often in horrifying slow-motion, spin out of control while I watch. Moments that turn whatever I was capably accomplishing moments before, UPSIDE DOWN.

I feel at such times like Lucille Ball of the old TV comedy “I Love Lucy.” As if someone switched the Life Switch to warp speed, making my tasks come at me too fast to handle. I stand at the candy-factory conveyor belt methodically tucking chocolates into wrappers and boxes, when said candies inexplicably stampede past me. Then I must make like a windmill-on-meth to properly do my job, even tossing candies over my shoulder and stuffing extras in my bra.

Never happened to you? Would you feel confident enough of that to take this lie-detector test?

The “little mishap” is bad enough. Oh, the horror, oh, the insanity. I stare at the mess and freeze in the moment, staring in disbelief. Then I lunge into action. So no one will know. Please let me clean this up and get out of it as if it never happened, with no one the wiser. Yes yes YES, I promise to buy that Florida swampland you so graciously offer.

Hurry, hurry, for Lucy’s sake, HURRY. It must appear as if nothing happened. So the day or evening will unfold as it should — slowly, calmly, predictably. No muss, no fuss. No harm to anyone or anything.

There. Last dripping wiped, floor sanitized, fabulously browned fowl reposing, innocent and inviting, on our best heirloom platter. Guests smiling and toting adult beverages as they drift into the kitchen to encourage the cook and ask what they can do to help? (How about making restaurant reservations? Glad they didn’t wander in a minute earlier.)

This scenario is exactly how I feel, what I fear, approaching the self-imposed deadline of May 1 for my next mystery novel, “Over the Edge.” Things are progressing slowly or swiftly, by turns. But they ARE progressing. Everything will be fine. Even if I pass that deadline a little. The reading feast will be served in good time, and it will be good. Promise.

And if it does sabotage all my dreams and best-laid plans, and slide and dump? Hey. I’ve learned from the turkey: Don’t panic. Get ‘er done. Clean up the mess, plate the feast and serve it up with a smile. Breathe, breathe. Then move on.

Hello? No one’s died yet. Except in my novels.

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