Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Soapbox: No use crying over spilled coffee milk

“I don’t know how to tell a joke. I never tell jokes. I can tell stories that happened to me… anecdotes. But never a joke.” – Lucille Ball

Do you ever feel like your entire life is a comedy of errors with a capital K, impeccable comedic timing, and your name is not Lucy?

Even though sometimes it is truly not funny right then when things go awry, the ensuing laughter brings a specific healing that feels so good inside that we always want more! My family loves to one up each other with stories of who recently had the most unintended embarrassing moment. It’s part of the holiday table conversation as we catch up on all that has taken place within the last year. We especially love female humor and the crazy predicaments that we women find in search of making ourselves better at something that exposes the vulnerability of womanhood.

For instance, when I once took an adult tap dance class I more enjoyed the phone calls to my sister after each class than the actual class itself. I would retell the story in my own Cajun words, which, by definition, must fully exaggerate everything that happened in order to make her laugh. With her being a skilled dancer and me being skilled at things like rice and gravy, I found ways to tickle her funny bone with my account of how I fared in the class in the midst of advanced dancers like herself.

Another winning family story is one my Mom told about the time she decided to reintroduce high heels into her wardrobe. The only problem was that once she squeezed her foot into the first shoe, her other leg caught a terrible cramp and she found herself rolling around on the floor of a department store as others looked on wondering what was wrong with this one-shoed woman. The words alone are not nearly as funny as her storytelling techniques.

My son captured a good one for us when filming me for a business-related video. One thick strand of my long bangs found its way into my right nostril while I was trying to report some analytical data. I don’t know which was better: the laughs we had right then or the laughs we have watching it to this day, as you can see my countenance fully disintegrate on camera.

My friend Jane once told her story of being a teenage girl in a world long before there was such a thing as breast implants. There was never a dry eye when she added her artful gift of storytelling to the time she dove into the swimming pool and one of what she called her “falsies” floated up to the surface of the water.

Have you really lived if you haven’t experienced awkward moments in a dressing room? I recall a time in a dressing room when a fully-zipped zipper was hung up on a $500 evening gown and the owner of the shop had to cut it off of me as my blood sugar dropped and I began to sweat. I think the owner was also sweating, too, just to cut near enough to the seam to salvage the dress with a new zipper. It happened to me again, recently, with a brand new dress I received from an online purchase. My shoulder froze when trying to remove the dress and I had to cut it off with no seam in sight. Needless to say, there is a nice piece of silk fabric Mom can now use in her sewing. God rest its soul. It was such a nice dress and we had only just met. We were going places.

In my female friends’ collection of one-uppers, there have been hair extension fails, weaves gone missing, false teeth forgotten, hair dye incidents, and one of my all-time low points—the nail polish blunder. My friend left me in charge of her home when she and her entire family took a Caribbean cruise one summer. I decided it would be a good week to paint my nails a nice shade of summer eggplant. I had a little toe trip and the bottle went flying, shattering all over her white tile and Persian rug.

So this week, I can say that I have my “one up” story on ready for the Thanksgiving table. I am not going to admit that I didn’t see the sign that said “No food or drinks beyond this point.” Maybe I did see it. Maybe it did not really register since I was on the phone when I checked into my wellness visit. Maybe I was just too invested in that $4.31 Grande Latte with stopper. Since I was on the phone and running late, the receptionist whisked me to the back waiting room where I expected a full hour plush sofa wait with elevator music. Finally! Off the phone now, I can drink my coffee in peace and get a little work done while I sit here, forgotten, for an hour.

Just as I spread out and prepared to settle in, here comes the nurse. “Brandi?” When I popped up to grab my entourage and took a few forward steps, I can’t really describe what happened except that I had sudden PTSD from the eggplant incident. The slow-mo moment ended with a very unhappy nurse, latte-infused carpet, and a sign that said “No Drinks Allowed” dripping with milky white beautiful coffee.

After collecting myself and cleaning the spill, I rounded the corner where another nurse sat me down and I tried to hold it together when she asked, “Do you take any caffeine?” Here I was dripping wet with latte all over my clothes, and I wanted to ask her whether she wanted me to report the answer in cups per day or pots.

As women, it is just too bad that Lucille Ball got all the money for eating chocolates off a conveyor belt and stomping grapes with her bare feet and getting the hook from her show biz hubby. We are trying to do so many things all day every day that we often miss our exit, spoon soup into saucers, and tell our friends how something was just on the tip of our tongue and we shall think of it in a minute!! We could make a million just with what happens to us.

Like Lucy and Ethel, women can make the best memories even while everything is going wrong. Female stories like theirs keep us entertained to this day with good old fashioned comedy about two women who are found by, say, situations. If you are one of these women, be encouraged that you are not alone! There once was a famous woman about whom it was written: she was clothed with strength and dignity even while laughing at the things to come! She was not worried one bit in the orb of her multi-tasking world that even any future mishaps would thwart her progress.

Life will always give us situations. My goal is to make sure that we properly make the best of them by preparing our special version of them for the Thanksgiving table, embellishing them with a little creative license to inspire laughter, and enjoying both the good days and bad! It is our vulnerability as women that makes us so special, like a piece of polished pottery ready to adorn a palace. I’d take care to that pottery though. With this big purse, I am already laughing at a future situation. Happy Thanksgiving from my desk to yours, Dear Reader.

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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