Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Laughter...The Best Medicine
I’ve learned over the course of many years that laughter can be a life-saver. Sometimes, existing in a state of harmony with the world and those around us is nigh impossible. Things go wrong. People don’t live up to our expectations. Once in a while, we don’t live up to theirs. It sometimes seems as if strife is as commonplace as breathing.
But breathe, we must! And drawing breath comes much easier when our chests are free of the tightness caused by conflict, sorrow or worry. That’s why laughter is so good for human beings. It causes those constricting muscles in our torso to relax, and loosen up.
If you’re lucky, those are the ONLY muscles that will loosen up when you laugh.
I made someone pee her pants, today.
I’m actually quite proud of myself. Oh, I’m not pleased that this woman had to spend the rest of her workday afloat in seas of brine! Certainly not! I truly feel BAD that she had to field questions from her co-workers like, ‘Did someone bring a baby in here?’ and ‘Do you smell soggy diapers?' I’m quite distressed that she had to spread a garbage bag on the seat of her SUV for the drive home from her office. It’s terrible that she had to go into the store on her way there for a gallon of milk and a box of Depends. And I’m terrifically upset that she was wearing a beige skirt rather than something dark-colored which would have hidden a damp stain! Certainly, I’m not happy about ANY of those things.
And yet, I still find it hilarious! Every time I think about the fact that she actually LAUGHED SO HARD SHE WET HERSELF, I go off on a round of giggles! When I picture the woman who shares her office crinkling her nose and looking into her garbage can for a used, disposable diaper, I start in with renewed snorts. Imagining my friend sidling past shoppers in the market so that she wouldn’t present them with the back of her sodden skirt causes my sides to ache.
It’s not funny, but it is hysterical!
And geez, I don’t know about my friend, but I sure feel better, now!
Of course, it’s not always appropriate to laugh. And naturally, when it’s NOT fitting, that’s when we feel the strongest urge to guffaw until we gag.
On November 27th, I will be performing a ‘stand-up’ comedy routine in a local tavern to benefit charity. I love to make people laugh, but I am NOT a comedian, and so this prospect scares the dickens out of me. And trust me when I tell you…I have good reason to be scared!
You see…I’ve done this before.
In March of 2001, I was asked to entertain the public at this very same tavern--only that time, the event was to benefit my small, hometown library in New Portland, Maine. I was to read portions of a manuscript I’d written titled, No, I’m not Pregnant, I’m just Fat (But Thanks So Much for Asking!) And that’s just what I did. I stood on stage and read select portions from my little, unpublished book…and the crowd of nearly 100 went wild. To my amazement, they LOVED it! I had them falling out of their chairs, they laughed so hard! I’m still dumbfounded when I think about what a success that evening was.
To my surprise and delight, the owner of a bar up north in Stratton heard about the event, and she asked me if I would come to the plaza and do the very same thing. Riding high on the triumph of that night, I said yes. Of course I would come! I was a rising star!
I was the Big Dip, and there are no two ways around it.
What the proprietor neglected to tell me was that my ‘act’ would directly follow another. I arrived at the establishment, ready and raring to go. Inside the lobby, I noticed that the swinging doors to the pub were closed. But emanating from behind those doors were the sounds of raucous laughter and enthusiastic applause!
‘Excellent!’ I thought. ‘Someone is warming them up for me!’ The bouncer told me that the first show was almost over, and he invited me to sit on the sofa to await my turn on the stage. I did as I was told. I looked around for something to read, but all there was on the coffee table was the local telephone directory. It was no big deal, really. Instead of reading a magazine, I opened my manila folder and once again looked over my manuscript. The manuscript I’d written about being fat.
All of a sudden, the doors to my right swung open and a stampede of approximately forty men poured through. Leading those men were two women. Two naked women. Well, I should be precise, shouldn’t I? Those ladies most certainly were NOT naked. They were bedecked in g-strings, pasties, and high heels.
Nope. Not naked, at all.
I just about had a cow!
Don’t get me wrong…I have nothing against nakedness! We Lexingtonites run around naked all the time! But never, and I repeat, NEVER would we be caught in the nude in high heels. It simply isn’t done! Rubber boots for when we’re mucking out the stalls, sneakers when we’re mowing the fields--but never, ever heels!
Well, of course, I was immediately nervous. I looked at the wall behind me and saw the poster I’d overlooked. A bachelor party! That made sense! These women were strippers! No wonder the crowd had sounded so enthusiastic!!
And now that the show was over, they weren’t content to let the ladies leave. They crowded round them, practically falling over my feet and their own as they tried to get their phone numbers, tried to book them for ‘private’ parties…it was all quite ridiculous, really.
All that commotion over high heels! Pfft!
Well, I was completely overlooked. No matter that I, too, was a woman! It was apparent that those two girls were in a league of their own. I couldn’t compete for that male attention. No way! I had sturdy combat boots on, for Pete’s sake, not stilettos! While I wore a ‘C’ cup, I would never, ever fit into a size ‘G’ string! And the closest I’ve ever come to wearing pasties was the time I had atrial fibrillation and was hooked up to an electrocardiogram machine. And that time…well, those ‘pasties’ simply weren’t positioned in a seductive way, that’s all! Wires sprouting from metal nodules didn’t have the same effect as dangling tassels…I was sure of it!
I picked up the telephone book. I mean, those girls were standing with their alphabetized floss directly at eye-level! As curious as I was as to what-all good it did and where exactly it disappeared to, I couldn’t stare. That would be rude! And so…I pretended to be engrossed in the Yellow Pages. Never have I looked like such a dipstick! I smiled politely when one beefy, red-faced man tripped over my glossy black boots and landed in my lap in his attempt to get near enough to one of the dancers to give her switch a toggle. I scuttled sideways as another gent realized I had the best view in the house, and he plopped his sweaty bum next to mine.
I was completely and totally out of my element!!! Embarrassed, uncomfortable, at a loss with what to do or say. Seriously…what kind of conversation could I hold? I couldn’t talk about the weather, because it was COLD, and I was NOT going there! And the scenery? My view consisted of an intricate shaving pattern displayed three feet in front of my eyes. Oh, and a tiny little mole.
Holy cow! I wanted my mommy!
And then, I was saved. The owner of the bar, my friend, appeared at my shoulder. She invited me inside. She had the bouncer hustle the girls to their changing room, and she escorted the wild and wooly men back into the saloon. They watched the starlets forlornly as they were led away, and then grudgingly returned to their seats.
And in moments, I was on!
Can you picture the scene, at all? Can you imagine my discomfort? Here I was, frumpy Karen, dressed in bulky sweater, heavy jeans and thick-soled boots…and what was I doing??? I was talking about the trials and tribulations of being FAT to forty sexually turned on, recently turned down men! Oh, and three women. I don’t know if they were turned on or not…I simply noticed that there were ONLY THREE WOMEN in the whole audience!!
Nobody laughed. Not one person clapped. Even when I got to the parts which had made my first audience SCREAM…not a single soul made a peep. I could smell the frustration, feel the annoyance and hear the disappointment. Even, the disgust.
I mean, get real!!! They’d just been entertained by dancing, sashaying, tasseled, stringed beauties in high heels who offered lap dances, and I was cracking jokes about being FAT!!!
Never, not once in my life, have I been so humiliated. I wanted to die! Those thirty minutes that I forced myself to stand there on stage comprised the most agonizing, excruciating mental torture I have ever endured. And when I finally got out of there…when I finally reached the safety of my truck and slammed the door shut, I swore I would never, not in a million years EVER, put myself though that again! There was no force on earth that could compel me to stand up in front of strangers and open myself up to that kind of humiliation, again.
Have I mentioned…I’m doing a stand-up comedy show for charity on November 27th?
Yeah…that’s says a lot about my gene pool, doesn’t it?
But, you see…something happened. Something wonderful. That strong force I just swore that had no power? Well, it does. Laughter has a power that is beyond reckoning. I closed that truck door, turned the key in the ignition, shifted into first gear, and before that vehicle pulled out onto Route 27, I was laughing my ass off. I was crying, giggling, screaming with hilarity. Oh, my God!!! I could see myself from the perspective of those forty men. Who needs a cold shower when you have Karen Pease? Got the horn on? Aw, just stick her in front of a mike and see what THAT does for you! Instant deflation! Bromide with boobs!
Oh, my God!
The distance from Stratton to my home in Lexington is almost forty miles. On those snowy spring roads, in the dark of night, it took me more than an hour to get home. And I cackled every single mile, every single minute of it! And by the time I reached the peaceful security of my little homestead, I was okay! More than okay…I knew that that painful, horrendous experience had great value and huge potential. I could just imagine how many others would get a chuckle from that event as they lived it vicariously through me. Sure, it was awful! But it was also funnier than hell.
Laughter. It’s a gift, it’s a tonic, it’s a life-saver. It is truly the best medicine there is. Laughter’s side-effects? An occasional pulled muscle in your side. A load of creases and crinkles in your face. And a lightness of spirit, a hope for the future, and yes... a rare wetting of your pants.
Have I mentioned, I’m performing a stand-up comedy routine for charity on November 27th? I invite you to come out and laugh with me.
And just in case...bring your Depends.
The show mentioned above is to benefit Alzheimers Association (Maine Chapter) and Franklin Home Health Care. All proceeds will be donated in Jack and Alison Ramsay's names.