This week had been an overload of bad vibes and sad news for me. A friend’s husband, who had retired less than two months ago, had a massive heart-attack, and passed Saturday night. Monday morning a friend flew to the state of Washington to say farewell to her son, who is dying of cancer. Sunday evening, a relative fell, hitting her head on the corner of an outdoor step. She looks like she went a couple of rounds in the ring and set back her rehabilitation from a pervious fall. The list goes on.
I was feeling blue and rather in the dumps because this year has, frankly stunk like two-week-old fish in the back of the fridge. It feels like there has been just one sad bit of news after another, and constant stress with no relief in sight, not to mention concerns regarding the future.
I was in this blue funk state of mind when I was handed a couple of sheets of paper by my mom. They had come in one of the multiple appeals for money from various charities which my Aunt receives daily. They were a series of conversation starter questions meant to be shared over the holiday dinners. “What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud?”, “What is your most embarrassing moment over the last year?”, “What is the nicest thing someone did for you this year?”. “What one new thing have you tried or learned during the pandemic?”
Hmm. I thought about these for a moment. All four of those questions were answered in a single incident. I had just stated to learn a new video conferencing program and was huddled in the bedroom on the floor with a makeshift office consisting of a stool to rest my laptop on and a clip board to take notes. I was video conferencing with several people across North America reviewing changes in education programs, when the bedroom door flew open and a very naked 3-year-old came streaking into view, scrambled up onto the bed, bouncing around. It provided a truly clear view of a little boys’ very private area to everyone in that meeting. I scrambled to haul Sparky out of the bedroom along with his loud verbal protests. A moment later, I returned to the meeting red faced and apologetic to find everyone in the meeting, grinning and highly amused over what had just taken place. It changed the whole atmosphere of the meeting when a couple of others shared stories of equally embarrassing incidents they had experienced. Later, the moderator shared the clip of the incident, which she had kindly edited out before sending the meeting video to the board of directors. It was mortifying, but, really, really, funny, and probably nothing like it had ever happened in one of these meetings before.
The next sheet asked, “If you could have tea with one fictional character, who would it be?”, “What is something you’ve tried that you will never ever try again?”, “If you could eat only one kind of cuisine for the rest of your life, which would it be?” and “What movie have you watched more than once because you love it?”
The question about tea was going to take a while to figure out. Indiana Jones? Pippi Longstocking? Captain Morgan? Who knows, more thought would be required for that. Cuisine? American because we are a melting pot of all cultures and enjoy the gift of a sorts of foods which have been adapted to our “American tastes”. “The Princess Bride” has been my movie of choice for years and that has not changed, even though I rarely get to see it. “A Christmas Story” with Ralphie is up there too, I hope someday Sparky will someday enjoy these as well. As far as the “never try again” incident, there are so many. Oh, so many, based on a lifetime of dumb decisions which seemed like a good idea at the time. They ranged from highlighting my own hair, to eating a hot dog from a 24-hour quickie mart in the middle of no-where, and to several events which involved alcohol and dancing.
The one which stood out the most involved an incident at 4-H camp of all places. I remember sitting on one of the picnic tables talking with Danny A, and Bert B., both from my school. Somehow the conversation came around to chewing tobacco, and Danny dared me to try a “chaw”. I remember stuffing a wad of the fragrant stuff into my mouth and mushing it into my cheek. What I don’t recall was the fact that NO ONE ever told me – you don’t actually chew the stuff. You just let it sit there and sort of marinate. Then you spit out the accumulated juices. So, I was chomping away trying to prove I was just as tough as these guys, while this gross and foul-tasting mess seemingly grew bigger and bigger. Gagging, I finally spat the mess out to the amusement of both guys, and spent the next half hour trying to remove the cherry tobacco flavored mulch from my mouth and not gag in the process. It’s been nearly 40 years since that afternoon and I swear, I can still smell that stuff.
It was this point that I realized I had smiled while thinking about these topics and was feeling a bit more upbeat. Maybe this is what many of us need at this point; conversations to explore happier times as a reminder of the good things in life even as sorrow and trouble surround us. It can only pull us together and make us more determined to have brighter days ahead.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.