Real Life Muddy MishapThis story goes back 20+ years and really fixated my attention on a good Muddy Comeuppance. It has been the foundation for a number of fictional stories as well. Let me know your thoughts and add your own stories, tv shows and or movie examples.
When I was in high school I helped with an end-of-school year picnic at a local park for my younger brother’s elementary school. We set up the food and all sorts of games for the kids. The head of the PTA, Jill, was a very attractive woman in her 30’s who always looked very nice. Every time I saw her, she was dressed very nice in a “country club” sort of way - never a hair out of place and always wearing coordinated outfits that looked they were fairly expensive.
On this day, Jill was looking very spring-like in her fashions wearing a white Ralph Lauren blouse, (with collar turned up), pastel pink capri-style pants, and bright white canvas Keds. Jill gave us helpers our directions for the morning setup and she did a good job in her ‘supervisor’ capacity. One of the games she had us set up was a tug of war for the two 5th grade classes. She thought it would be fun to have it across a narrow, but rather muddy stream near the picnic area. The stream was only five feet across and was more of a swampy morass with barely a trickle of water running through the center. Since the nearest foot-bridge was 50 or so feet away we found a wooden plank to put over the stream near the rope so that getting across was easy.
Jill was giving lots of orders but when the borough mayor showed up, she was also taking lots of credit for the event. Sure, she had a role in planning it but others were doing all of the work getting it set up. When talking to the mayor, she made it sound like she had been there since dawn personally setting up the food and every game. She had me tag along with the two of them taking pictures so that they could be shared at the next council meeting.
She had a very bossy tone with how she was talking to me – and everyone else for that matter. When the three of us got to the water balloon toss area, she had me take a picture of her holding a water balloon in a pose that made her look like she was throwing and catching them. (Even though she would be nowhere near that game when it was actually being played.) Then at the egg relay she did the same thing – pretended for the camera she was going to race. She had me take several pictures wanting to make sure everything, including her long brown hair, was perfect. When we got to the tug of war area, she walked across the plank stopping in the middle. She had me take a picture of her standing over the muck pointing at the mud with a grin on her face. It was about this time that I thought to myself how it would be pretty funny if she somehow fell in. But of course, she didn’t. We got a few pictures of her holding the rope as if she were participating in the tug when of course that was not going to happen. The thought again crossed my mind as I stood directly across the mud pit from her with her foot right up at the edge holding the rope as if she was pulling with all her might.
Fast forward an hour or so when the picnic was in full swing and all of the kids were having a blast. Jill stayed at the pavilion while most of the games were going on and couldn’t have been less involved. As I was putting some of the food away I saw her checking her hair and make up in her mirror doing some unnecessary personal touch-ups. The mayor returned to the park and Jill sprung back into “action.” All of a sudden she again took charge and herded the kids over to the tug of war area. They all took their shoes off and got on either side of the stream. Jill volunteered her one friend to stand on the board and be the judge. The kids got in place, the judge blew the whistle and the kids commenced to tugging. After just a few moments the first couple kids got pulled into the mud to a chorus of laughs, giggles and screams. The mud was pretty soupy and at least ankle deep. Fortunately, we had told the kids to wear old clothes, bring a change of clothes, and we had a hose to rinse them off when they got back in the grass. After the one team had pulled the other into the mud, the stronger team jumped in too -muddy fun being had by all.
Once they were all in the mud, the mom who was the “judge” tried to pick up the rope and get it out of the mud and in doing so, lost her balance and also ended up in the mud sacrificing a nice pair of Reeboks in the process. Jill got a chuckle out the mishap and said something like, “Awe, even Amy wanted to get in on the fun.” in a snarky tone. Amy just looked up and said, “Real funny” clearly annoyed as she tried to slog back to the grassy shoreline.
Jill then instructed me to take some more pictures of the kids making sure to get Amy as she sat on the bank taking her shoes off. The kids were still thoroughly enjoying themselves in the mud really churning it into a mucky mess. Jill walked onto the board and made some comment about all of her little ones enjoying their wallow – except of course for Amy. I took a few pictures of her lording over the muddy kids and smiling for the camera. She called herself the master of muddy mayhem while I got a picture of her with her hands on her hips.
What none of us had noticed was that when Amy lost her balance and jumped down the 12 inches or so down into the mud, there was a splash of muddy water back onto the brown, weathered board. Jill had told the kids to start getting out of the mud so that we could begin the clean up. One of the kids motioned like he was going to splash Jill and she immediately told him, “Don’t you dare!” and said it in such a way that you could tell she was serious. She turned to walk to the other side keeping an eye on the devilish kid. Her right foot hit the wet spot on the board and slid a few inches causing her to lose her balance. In what took just a second, seemed to last for a few minutes. She let out a yelp and tried to regain her balance. She ended up on the side of the board leaning forward over the mud. The toes of her immaculate white Keds were extended over the edge of the board curing down as her arms were going round and round. She teetered back and forth not wanting to fall off the board in either direction saying “no! no! no!” Her left foot then stepped back, slipped again on the wet spot and, overcompensating, she tumbled forward down into the mud where the kids had just been with a sickening splat. Landing on her side, she had mud in her hair, all over her white blouse and pink slacks.
There was a collective gasp from the others in the area that turned back around to see Ms. PTA in the slop pit. Jill had a look of abject horror on her face as she came to realize how deep, slimy and disgusting the mud was. She almost couldn’t speak as she struggled to her feet. All she could say was, “I can’t believe this! My outfit….it’s ruined!” I extended my hand to help her back onto the grass. She sat in the grass in total disbelief as she examined her blouse, pants and sneakers which were now just brown blobs. I got a few pictures of the fall as well as the aftermath which her friend Amy made sure made the next PTO newsletter.