Monday, March 18, 2013

You, Too, Can Be a Showstopper

Deb hoofing it through England
I was recently speaking to a mixed group of men and women of a church denomination rumored to be the "frozen chosen."

And sure enough, they seemed to be. Frozen. 

The kicker is, I'm a humorist, and so the point of my talks is to draw a smile from my audience. Maybe even a chuckle or a guffaw. Occasionally a profound belly laugh.

But nothing was happening here. A profusion of nothing, actually. One lady in the back almost showed her teeth. Once. But maybe that was a grimace. Or a hot flash.

And when I finished my most hilarious story, I think I might have heard a snicker. Or it could have been a snort. I felt like I was rolling around the toilet bowl in a slow flush, about to go down the hole of no return.

I had to remind myself that I couldn't really know what they were feeling, although their collective body language appeared to scream "catatonic." They did seem to be warming up as I kept hacking away at the granite that was their faces, and by the end, there were actually a few smiles. Not a lot, but a few. At that point, I was happy with crumbs.

To my amazement, as the fine folks filed by my book table on their way out, nearly all of them bought books and thanked me for coming. I couldn't believe how many times someone stood before me with a solemn expression and said something to the effect of, "That was wonderful. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time." 

Go figure.

Life is like that, isn't it?. We never really know the effect we're having on other people ... how much of us is rubbing off on our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors. They don't necessarily show it, but they're internalizing bits and pieces of us all the time. Just like we are of them. Little pieces that fit together like a puzzle to make us who we end up being.

And maybe one day, before the show's completely over, we'll take the opportunity to tell them how much a part of us they really are. How much they've meant to us. Because they probably don't know it from our poker faces.

And then we can slap each other on the backs and say, "That was wonderful. I haven't loved that hard in a long time."

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