Of course, the flipside to the ladylike dignity of an Audrey Hepburn (see earlier post) is the kooky gaucheness of a Lucille Ball. It’s said that Lucy was the first woman to make it acceptable to be attractive AND funny; a prototype which has become familiar. These days our heroines are women such as Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, who seem to fall over a lot and always get introduced to an attractive man when they’ve just stuffed a whole vol au vent into their mouths.
All this, combined with Stephenie Meyer making clumsiness endearing, makes me feel slightly better about having some experience with being the “kooky” girl, as evidenced by various “would be embarrassing if I cared” events. My oldest school pal is of a similar ilk; she recently met an online date at Euston with the bumbling words “I’m so glad with myself that I could find you here!” (My usual MO, at least when outdoors, is to find wind blowing my hair into my mouth, choking me midsentence.)
Similarly my mother (who is really worthy of a blog of her own) had an incident recently when my dad went out without his keys and asked her to let him in. Hearing a knock at the door, she decided it would be funny to crouch by the door and demand “Who goes there?” Hearing a mumble in reply, she demanded (in a tone both aggressive and squeaky) “WHAT?” Needless to say, the delivery man was not amused.
There is also a slight tendency to absent mindedness – I was recently most indignant at the pair of new boots I had bought – one seemed to be crumbling after only a day’s wear. Luckily I noticed, before I stormed into the shop, receipt in hand, that I had actually put on one old boot and one new one. As you were, Mr Shopkeeper.
One memorable occasion was when I went to let my (slightly intimidating) boss know that I was leaving, at the end of my first day on the job. He asked “Are you enjoying it?” and I replied with a vehement “Yes!” and fell over a chair. I also said long goodbyes to everyone and then had to come back in to retrieve my bag.
Being a fan of Seinfeld’s Kramer, I have now come to terms with my ability to trip over a hair on the ground. After several mishaps involving flipflops and rain (they have NO traction on wet pavement), a friend advised me that the only acceptable recovery is to jump up, arms in the air, and shout “Ta daaaaa!”
At least my whimsy is self-inflicted, unlike the chap I saw recently with a luminous ghost sticker in the folds in his briefcase, evidently donated by a child and invisible to all but those walking behind him on the escalator. Perhaps the best thing to do is to surround ourselves with the equally daffy; I once had a long conversation with a friend about the practice of “sprinkling” ashes before one of us realised “that doesn’t sound right....” (If your mind has now gone blank, the word we were looking for was “scattering.”)
So if you’re not as poised as Audrey or Grace, at least you’re in good company. Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston have made careers out of being lovably goofy; the lesson here is that you can get away with anything, as long as your hair looks good. But they owe it all to the originals – Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball and Doris Day paved the way for screwball fun; long may it continue.