One of my favorite movies is Summer Magic, a Haley Mills Disney classic that hardly anyone has heard of, in other words totally typical of my favorites list. At the end of the movie there's a big dance in the barn behind the house and each gentleman greets their date at the bottom of the beautiful wrapped staircase to escort them. The girls parade down the stairs in their best dresses, giving their fellas ample time to appreciate the view.
Ever since I first watched Summer Magic I dreamed of living that scene. Getting ready for a big night with the girls and each having their moment to shine down the staircase of a grand front entrance. Growing up in a rancher and with best girl friend lived in homes that lacked such entries I never thought I could make it happen, that is until one of them moved to a grand-foyered home our senior year, just in time for prom.
Prom was an event to remember, that's for sure, which is quite a statement given I don't remember very much of the actual event. It was the pre-show that really sticks in my mind:
There we were, 4 best friends getting ready for arguably the biggest night of our high school careers. Steph stood in full make-up, a perfect French twist, pantyhose, heels and tears having realized she'd forgotten to bring her dress while either Cher or VA both made rumblings about the likely hood of us falling down the highly polished curved staircase in the vaulted ceiling foyer. I, for once being the voice of reason, insisted that the more we focused on our mishaps and spoke of falling the more likely one of us would bite it.
One by one our dates arrived and soon I was left alone in VA's bedroom watching intently out the window for my date as seemingly endless minutes ticked by. From downstairs I could hear laughter, idle chit chat and ponderings about whether or not I would get stood up. Finally (only 15 minutes late) my date arrived and the butterflies in my stomach turned from fear to excitement. VA's mom handed me the corsage I would present to Mike and between that, my stole, purse and skirt of my fabulous Jessica McClintock I rapidly discovered I had no hand left for the banister.
At this stage in the game an intelligent might pause, take a moment to consider a safer alternative, one that could be executed quickly and gracefully so as not to show the nearly 2 dozen people consisting of friends, dates, neighbors, family and parents of girls not even part of our prom group any cracks in the illusion of a cool and collected facade. In high school cool and collected is crucial. I, however, am not always an intelligent person and so I forged ahead without a safety net, thighs flexed to capacity to carry me as safely as possible down the polished wood. I stared at those stairs as if they would jump out from under me.
Finally after seconds that felt like hours I reached the 3rd to last step and deemed it safe to look up to find my date in a sea of watching faces. A decision that proved to be my undoing. The moment I looked up my thighs revolted and my foot shot clean out from under me. I landed on my backside so hard I bounced and found myself standing on the floor, having skipped the last two steps completely, with my stole now hanging over my head. Embarrassed I rushed forward to present the corsage I had held onto dutifully only to find I mistook the form standing in front of me as I stared down the lens of a video camera, not my date.
Yup. All on tape.
After prom came graduation where the pre-game chatter involved certainty that I would be the one to fall down the stairs. Ha ha.
A few years later VA's parents had their foyer stairs carpeted for additional safety. More for their daily use than because I fell that one time. For Christmas that year I bought them something to mark the occasion...
This plaque lives on the side of the rise I fell off, just below the lip on the back side of the staircase that faces the dining room. With any luck years and years and years down the road when a new family moves in that plaque will still live there, unnoticed and forgotten, left to live there indefinitely. Or until some small child or an overzealous house cleaner finds it and wonders if there be a need to call in the TAPS team.