Written by: Rhonda Sue Page
I love to laugh. To me there’s just nothing better than a full on – make your eyes tear – sides split – can’t breathe – pee your pants – snort rendering belly laugh. Sadly, I find they are few and far between.
This might be because, as much as I love to laugh, I find most humor crass and well…unfunny. I guess you could say I’m kinda picky. If you gotta drop an f-bomb as every form of the sentence structure in your joke……..crickets will chirp.
It’s not you, it’s me. Sorry, that just makes me tense and uncomfortable. We can still be friends………I’ll just be uptight.
This love of laughter is both beautiful and unfortunate for me. You see, I have to confess something awkward about myself:
My name is Rhonda Sue…………..and I have a REALLY LOUD LAUGH.
It’s not just loud, it’s obnoxiously loud….and un-pretty. Is that even a word? Spellcheck is having a tantrum on me right now……….but I don’t care. That word sums up my laugh perfectly. Un-pretty. It’s neither delicate nor alluring. It does not tinkle nor chime.
If you know me at all, this will not come as a surprise. In fact maybe your relieved to know that I’m even aware of it. Maybe your hoping that will make a difference.
I lost the insecure vanity over it some time back…..Because I love to laugh.
I thought it might be worth mentioning because….believe it or not……it has helped me find some very valuable friends along the way.
Like Ms. Pat Owen for example. I love Ms. Pat. I would have been drawn to her even if she’d have been a dragon-lady….but she’s not. Quite the opposite in fact. She’s got Jackie O style with a mile-wide smile that’ll charm you……..even as she gives you “the business” in her slight southern drawl. I just adore that kind of sass! AND…….that woman can make leopard print work on just about anything. Her bible is dressed better than Paris Hilton’s dog.
My naked bible shames me.
The greatest thing about Pat is that she likes my laugh. Now, I’m under no delusions here. “Likes” simply means that Ms. Pat has found the positive in my boisterous quirk. She uses it as a homing beacon to know if I’m in the room or not. Then based on that knowledge ………seeks me out for a hug instead of running the other direction. Mercy in motion.
*Hugs* Ms. Pat!
Then there’s Jolie……Joles for short (Have I mentioned my coolness at this “shortening” ability?)
Jolie and I met under the strangest of circumstances. At the time there wasn’t a thing funny about it either.
We were new to Houston. I had no friends and wanted to put my best foot forward. It was Stevie’s first day of preschool at FaithSYC. He was a super excited 4 year old on a mission….
“To be the first one at school”…. of course.
This took some doing mind you. He has three younger siblings…….and I feel compelled to mention that Texas has inappropriate heat and abnormal humidity levels for all new-comers. We were up at the crack of dawn just to get in all the feedings, bathings, dressings, diaper changes…….and fixing my hair – twice. Presentation people…presentation.
Heck, just loading all those kids in the car took 15 minutes alone.
But I smartly remembered to grab the double stroller stored just inside the garage door on the way out.
Upon arriving, I promptly fished out the double stroller and begin loading it with babies. All the while Stephen fired off questions from his inquiring mind that needed to know stuff.
“Mommy are we here?” “Can I buckle out?” “I wanna carry my own backpack, can I?” “Do you smell poop?”
“Yes Honey, we’re here. Stay buckled in until I get the babies settled. Okay?”
I did a quick sniff test on Mandy then put her in first. She loved to kick the back of the seat….. so she always got the front one by default. Then after a quick diaper-check, baby Jon got the back.
Stephen had not waited for me to unbuckle him. Instead he was out in a flash and “helping” Matthew unbuckle from his seat as well.
But just as I turned to them, little Mandy started screeching from the stroller. I turned back and knew immediately something was terribly wrong. The cry was of sheer torture and she was arching up out of the seat. I grab her up to calm her while ordering Stephen to leave Matthew secured in.
“Hang on Stevie, let mommy just see what’s wrong with Mandy.”
It was about that time I noticed the ants on my arm. Not just ants……….
My heart sunk as I begin stripping my daughter naked…….in a church parking lot….with people everywhere. My brain was trying to process it all, just as I heard Jon begin a high-pitched wail of his own.
Panic poured through me…
It was at that moment two hands appeared from nowhere and took Mandy from me…continuing to help her. I quickly snatched my youngest from that wretched stroller and begin peeling the layers off him with lightening speed.
“Mommy, please can we go in now? Mattie is going to carry my lunch because I said he could, right Mattie?”
I never took my eyes off my task.
“Stephen Michael Page! Sit! Down!” My tone was low and cold. They both immediately sat down on the floor of the Suburban and stared as the stranger and I worked furiously to brush fire ants off their siblings.
By this time, I had started to sweat profusely. Did I mention the humidity? Add to that my current state of MommaBear protect & defend mode and well………..let’s just say, I was a sight to behold for sure. My hair was no longer salvageable. It was plastered to the makeup that had begun to run down my face from the sweat. Life had gone sour within a matter of seconds.
I wanted to sweetly soothe my babies and scream all at the same time.
In deference to my helper………I chose the former.
Oddly, I never looked at the person helping me that day….. Although I sensed it was a woman. We worked together in complete silence and with single purpose of mind. We shook out clothing and inspected it unforgivingly before replacing it on red-welted angry skin that would soon blister.
Once the danger had passed, my companion left as silently as she had come. I wanted so badly to cry. To give up and go home. To build a huge bubble for the five us and never leave it again. Talk about an epic fail.
“Mommy, please can I go to school now?”
From my defeated position on the ground, I looked up into the biggest pair of blue eyes urging me to push through.
“Yes, Stevie, I’ll take you in now. BUT I need to carry the babies, so you MUST hold tightly to Mattie AND my leg in this parking lot. Do you understand?”
Stevie nodded his affirmation and because I saw the seriousness of my tone reflected back in those eyes….we made our way inside. Otherwise I swear I’d have chalked the day up as a loss and headed back to bed.
In fact, the drop-off was a complete blur. I can only imagine my first impression was less than glorious. Mortified, I didn’t even bother to find and thank the woman who helped me.
It took awhile before I felt safe enough to tell that story. I trashed the stroller when what I wanted was to burn it to the ground. It didn’t get funny for a long time. When I did finally start sharing it …….. was also when I discovered the person who helped me. It was Jolie Helms. We instantly bonded when we “found” each other again. I had since forgiven myself, and I longed to show gratitude to my saving angel. Funnily enough…. she hadn’t really gotten a good look at me either that day. (For all my fear of being judged incompetent.) She had simply seen a need, stopped to fill it and moved on to get her own little guy to class. Grace in action.
That’s the heart of who Jolie is. She’s not a glory-seeker, and hates to have attention drawn to herself. But she is by far and away one of the most creatively talented people I have ever met. She loves for keeps, and she draws beautifully….and I’m not talking that about that stick people stuff I do.
Jolie puts up with my laughter too. Not only puts up with it……she actually goes to see funny movies with me…..on purpose. Shrug if you want, but Jolie pays a price for this behavior. People turn to see who’s got the un-pretty laugh and that’s hard on her when it’s the person she’s with. She blushes the color of her hair. Which is a magnificent red.
*Fist-bump* Joles! (FYI – Jolie hates hugging.)
We fear seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. Yet sadly that can be such a loss when, in fact, those are some of the most beautiful images there are of us.
Especially when those eyes belong to our Maker.
I suppose in hindsight, I could have picked a funny story to go along with the theme of this blog on laughter. I promise I have a few.
Like the time Stevie got stuck in real handcuffs…..or when a plastic bag static cling-ed itself to the back leg of our cat, causing her to raced from room to room as though demons were chasing her….
But it just occurred to me, I’m not really writing about laughter at all……
…….I’m writing about love.
Funny how that happens…….