I have terrible balance. I have trouble standing on both feet in my back yard and looking up to see the stars. I sway like a palm tree in trade winds. I cannot stand on one foot for any reason without holding
on to something.
I fall a lot — a few years ago I somehow stubbed a toe on the hallway carpet and pretty much folded my foot in half and then fell on it. I broke nine bones.
I have fallen walking up stairs as well as going down. I have baptized myself with soda as I fell with a drink in my hand. I’ve had to quit wearing any kind of high heel because my ankles bend so easily that
it’s guaranteed I will fall.
I fell in the waiting room of a doctor’s office when I got up after my name was called. That got me some spectacular bruises and some very worried doctors who were afraid I would sue them.
Over the years I have learned how to fall, and how to survive the aftermath.
It’s a matter of perspective. I could feel sorry for myself and have a pity party because my balance is shot and my weakened joints makes falling a regular occurrence, or I can laugh about how ridiculous I look and tell you about one of my best falls of all, at the Wrangler Awards at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
I used to cover all the entertainment events at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. It’s a beautiful place loaded with western art, a Rodeo Hall of Fame, the Hall of Great Western Performers and a lovely area full of memorabilia from movie and TV Westerns.
John Wayne is well represented there, as is Jimmy Stewart, Glenn Ford, James Arness and modern actors like David, Keith and Robert Carradine, James Garner, Ernest Borgnine, Tommy Lee Jones and Tom Selleck.
Every year actors get added to that list when the museum has its Wrangler Awards. They’re given for literature, music, movies, TV shows and mini-series as well as the men and women who own and run ranches throughout the West.
It’s a two-day event. The first night is a meet and great cocktail party so the honorees can mingle with museum patrons who bought tickets. The second night is a formal dinner where the statues are
Cowboy hats and boots are worn with tuxedos while the ladies put on their red carpet-worthy gowns and their good jewelry.
Before the dinner the media gets a chance to interview all the award recipients in a VIP room. Cameras of all sorts are set up, notebooks are out and notes taken. The media also gets to dress for this night,
One year I was wearing a sapphire blue, floor length strapless gown when I caught the hem of my dress on the tip of my shoe.
Down I went, flat on my face. It was one of those horrible moments when all talking ceases and everyone, movie stars included, had their eyes on the woman flat on the floor.
It was totally humiliating, but in that split second I knew everything depended on my reaction– kind of like when a toddler falls down and looks around to see whether he needs to cry or just get up and keep
I decided to get up and laugh if off. Thank heaven, nothing was hurt but my pride and when I started laughing, everyone continued their conversations and my husband and an actor helped me back on my feet.
The saving grace for me was that Mr. Selleck wasn’t in the room. I had just regained my footing when he walked in and I promptly walked over to him and started asking him questions about the project that
garnered him a Wrangler.
I also counted my blessings that nothing popped out of the top of the gown. The dress fit so well that nothing moved.
Several years earlier the late Charlton Heston was being honored and I caught him as he and his wife entered the museum.
I promised the legendary actor that if would give me about 10 minutes right then I wouldn’t bother him the rest of the event and he kindly obliged.
I set my drink down by my right shoe and started asking questions. He was nice and gave me some great material to include in my main story. I have to admit I was pretty much star struck to be standing a foot
away from the man who played Moses and Ben Hur.
As we wound up our interview I was thanking him for his time when he interrupted me to remind me my drink was very close to my shoe.
I was so grateful. I know had he not pointed it out I would have knocked over the drink and the probably slipped on the slick floor.
I miss covering those galas because over the years I became friends with several actors who attended, and once got to save one of them by creating cuff links using silver conchos and leather strips.
Barry Corbin (probably best known as the astronaut in “Northern Exposure”) was backstage panicking because he had forgotten to bring any cuff links and his shirt had French cuffs.
The conchos and leather strips had been used as napkin rings and I was able to fashion what turned out to be a great set with a little ingenuity and I made a friend in the process.
If made me feel like I had done something equivalent to keeping him on his feet, like so many people have done for me, and that added a little bit of balance, which is always a good thing.