We all have generally the same hair color, except for my older brother, who is bald now but who used to have hair kind of like the rest of us. We have the same color eyes, give or take, and the same ears -- perfectly proportioned ones that we get from her side of the family, my mother says.
All in all, there are some similarities among the six of us -- me and my siblings -- that let a person at least suspect we might be related. Some more painful than others.
"You won't believe what mama did," my nephew told me as we gathered on his parents' front porch last weekend during the Plains Peanut Festival.
Apparently, they had been walking across Highway 280, which runs right in front of their house and through downtown Plains, to check out the goings on at the festival across the street. The town was packed -- its regular 700 or so swollen to well over 1,000, with the smell of barbecue and curly french fried sweet potatoes and gator tail hovering in the air, pony rides, a man with a snake around his neck, and booths filled with fancy hair ribbons and pocketbooks and festival kinds of things for sale.
"And I just fell," my sister said. "Right there in the middle of the highway. I looked back and my flip-flop was halfway up the road behind me."
I first inclination was to laugh, hysterically, but I managed to hold off until I had delivered the obligatory question of concern. "Are you OK?" I asked and she grimaced, more out of embarrassment, I think, than pain, even though she had fallen on her wrist -- the same wrist she had surgery on years ago after another unfortunate, yet even funnier, fall.
"You should have seen it, Aunt Mandy," my nephew, who is 21, said. "One minute we were talking and the next minute she was on the pavement. It ... was ... hilarious."
It is an affliction that seems to run in our family -- falling. It is not clinical, it is not due to some physical imbalance or unexplainable ailment. We are simply klutzy.
I believe it comes from our mother -- who famously fell outside of church in Plains one Sunday morning, right there in front of God and a busload of tourists. She does not recall how bad it hurt, but can, in vivid detail, describe the feeling of being sprawled out on the sidewalk with her skirt hiked up and her panty hose showing. We hope a photo of her is not on some tourist's refrigerator in Ohio.
"Just be thankful you're the kind of woman that wears drawers underneath your pantyhose," a thoughtful person told her. True.
"Look, there's Tracey," I said to my husband just this week as we waited in the carpool line at school for our daughter. The afternoon Braves game was on. I hopped out of the car to talk to Tracey, who was waiting in her car behind us. A minute later, I walked back to our car. OK, that's a lie. A minute later, I stepped off the curb to walk back to our car and completely and totally wiped out on the pavement, right there in front of carpool. It was not pretty.
"Miss Mandy, oh my gosh! Are you OK?!" Tracey's daughter yelled. I crawled up off the pavement and smiled as best I could. "I'm OK. I'm OK," I told her and walked as fast as my bloody knee would let me back to our car.
"What were you doing?" my husband asked. He'd only seen me get up, not fall, thank God. I guess he thought I was picking something up off the ground. He didn't know it was my big behind.
I told him what happened. He offered the obligatory question of concern, then burst out laughing. When I showed him my bloody knee, he grimaced, then laughed some more. At that moment, I didn't know I'd split my pants, too.
"You won't believe what mama did," he said when our daughter got in the car. She was, quite frankly, mortified.
I can't help it. It runs in the family.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.