Before I begin, I should admit that I have actually walked into an open door. If you’re sceptical and think walking into an open space doesn’t hurt, I’m here to tell you that it does — and that people shouldn’t leave doors three-quarters of the way open.
My mother prides herself on her ability to do almost anything. The woman can parallel park a car into a space the size of my old studio apartment’s bathroom. She can write cursive copperplate like a scholar. Hell, the woman can organize an entire family’s personal documents and tax returns in chronological and alphabetical order before you can say “anal retentive.” However, when it comes to the one-meter radius that surrounds her, my mother is as lost as a blind puppy. Her hands are always covered in burns from using the stove. Her knees are inked in bruises from walking into inanimate objects. I’ve never seen a woman hurt herself so badly, so often and in such hilarious circumstances.
Though I didn’t get all of her superhuman life skills, I am still my mother’s daughter, and spatial skills just aren’t my bag. My day-to-day run-ins with spatial related misfortune can be summed up perfectly with a recent example.
In dutiful housewife fashion, I wanted to prepare a lovely home-cooked dinner for my husband before he left on a seven-week film shoot. The salad was prepped and ready for that final dash of olive oil. My bolognaise sauce had been slowly simmering for three hours — the flavours combining into a rich, meaty, vegetable-y goo. I even put a candle on the dinner table, and I never, ever do things like that. If adding decoration means getting in the way of eating, I’m not interested. I’m far more of a microwave and go kind of person — speed not appearance being the key feature of my dining habits.
The only thing missing from my perfectly laid table with my perfectly lit candle was a perfectly opened bottle of wine. I must preface this with the fact that China is not known for producing high-quality corkscrews. Not a country renowned for its wine drinking, corkscrews rank about 5,698th on the People’s Republic list of products they give a shit about.
So I twisted my poor imitation corkscrew into a bottle of Chilean cab sav and slowly began to remove the cork that was getting in the way of my perfect dinner. I got it halfway out before I had to resort to good old-fashioned brute force. I tugged with as much might as my nine-year-old child’s arms could muster, but this was a particularly resilient bottle of vino.
I sat down on the couch, put the bottle of wine between my knees and pulled. This was when I heard the voice of my mother in my head. Like all good children, as I grew into an adult (though I still claim that title is dubious) I’ve maintained my mother’s voice as the backing track to all the predicably stupid things I do. It’s there when I touch a hot metal surface to see if it’s still actually hot; it’s there when I cross the street without looking (which by the way is a skill in Beijing); and it’s there when I wonder what would happen if I did put my knife in the toaster.
As I sat with my head precariously positioned over the top of the wine bottle I was trying so desperately to open, I heard my mother’s voice again. “Imogen, you know you’re going to release that cork and the force will cause you to smack yourself right in the face with your metal bottle opener.” No it wont, I said to myself.
Yes it did.
After checking my teeth (that my mother reminds me how much she paid for almost every time I smile), I then checked my mouth. I had a giant welt the size of golf ball on my lower lip. The skin was broken. My inside gums looked like they’d been stabbed repeatedly with a blunt object. I had essentially punched myself in the face. I argue that an act of stupidity this great requires a serious commitment to the art of daftness.
My husband strolled in after the fact to see me sulking, tears dried on my cheeks, holding a packet of frozen berries to my mouth.
“I hit myself in the face with a metal corkscrew.”
“It looks like I freakin’ punched you! … but you got it open, right?”