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Slice of Life Sunday: Laugh & the World Laughs with You

April 27, 2008

SOL Participant 2

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode .

I have received such joy from all the slice of life stories written by friends I have made here in blogsville. I have also become inspried to write more of my own. This is a fun slice to serve!

 “A person starts to live when he can live outside of himself.”

                                                                                                               -Albert Einstein

 

If I could make a living at volunteering I would. During the last thirty years, I have been involved in many projects and organizations, have served on several committees and boards, and have made both large and small differences for my community. I truly love being a part of making something good happen for the benefit of many. Some claim volunteering is an act of altruism, or an unselfish concern for the welfare of others. And to a point, this is true of my desire to “help.” I will be honest and admit that I receive such an amazing sense of satisfaction when I am involved in a project, that it seems like I am not whole if I am not involved in something. As I think back on all the events and projects I have helped with, I can not help but laugh when I remember my very first community service project that could have easily been my last.

 

My first husband and I purchased a rundown, two-story farmhouse on the edge of a very small town in rural Holmes County, Ohio in 1977. Shortly after we moved in, a neighbor who lived in the adjoining new housing development came to visit. Linda brought a plate of cookies and we spent the afternoon tearing five layers of wallpaper off a bedroom wall. We clicked instantly and became best buddies and pals. Three months later our family enjoyed our first Killbuck Early American Days, the local festival that was held over Labor Day weekend. Linda was the chairperson of several events and I became intrigued watching how much fun everyone had participating in the events. Linda introduced me to Lucille, the festival president, who immediately recognized new blood for the committee. Throughout the next nine months, both Linda and Lucille encouraged, begged and pleaded for me to join the festival committee. I had never participated in anything like that before and did not feel I was competent to be a “Committee Chairperson.” But, between the two veterans, they convinced me to accept the position of Costume Contest Chairperson for the upcoming festival, primarily due to Lucille assuring me I would not have to get up on stage and talk in front of a crowd.

 

My duties were actually very minimal, especially looking at other things I have done since. I had to make posters and place them in several businesses throughout the town announcing the contest with the categories and prizes that could be won. I also had to do an interview for the local newspaper telling about the contest – and since Linda was our town’s news correspondent for the newspaper, I felt very comfortable with what would have been a nightmare for me since I was quite shy back in those days. By the time the festival rolled around, I was feeling good about my decision to “get involved and give back to the community.” I was so excited and confident about my ability to handle this project that made a long, early American-style calico-print dress for my community service debut.

 

I began to get butterflies an hour or so before the time of my contest. I worried that no one would show up in costume and I would look foolish in my long, old-fashioned dress. But, I worried for nothing as many people came dressed to win a prize. I organized everyone into proper categories and had each group lined up and ready to go by my designated time. And true to her word, Lucille emceed the contest. She called each category name and I helped the entrants up the steps to the stage so they could parade across in front of the judges. I had so much fun helping everyone. I fixed hair ribbons and fluffed petticoats. I almost cried when one little girl who had been so nervous to go on stage won first place in her category. Her smile made everything I had gone through to put the contest on all worth while. I was feeling pretty good about myself when the winners of the last category of costumed men were announced. My job was done and I had done a good job. Yes, I was feeling good – that is until I heard Lucille speak into the microphone . . .

 

“I can not recall having so many participate in our costume contest. This has been a banner year and there is a good reason for it. We have a new chairperson this year and she has been excellent at getting the word out. Evelyn, come on up here so everyone can give a big round of applause for all your hard work!”

 

I was behind the stage and I froze when I heard her words. What was she thinking? I couldn’t go up on that stage – in front of all those people. Again she called my name to come up. “She’s a little shy folks, lets give her some encouragement!” and began to clap her hands.

 

Oh, my God! Was this woman crazy? Now she is telling everyone I am shy. About that time Linda appeared out of nowhere. “You will have to at least go out front and wave to the crowd because she won’t stop until you do.” Well now was a fine to tell me this, I thought. But I knew she was right. I might as well get it over with.

 

I walked to the side of the stage and waved to the audience as Linda had suggested. I was more than a little embarrassed when the clapping got louder, but I waved anyways and mouthed a “thank you” to the crowd. But that was not going to be good enough for Lucille. No, no, no, no. Not good enough at all! “There she is folks!” she cheered into the microphone. I just knew everyone could hear her a mile away at the baseball tournament. “Now, you come on up here. Everyone needs to get a good look at the little girl who pulled off such a fine costume contest. And folks, I want to tell you, she even made herself a dress just for the occasion! You come on up here – I’ll have to come down and get you if you don’t!” And the crowd cheered. And my blood pressure rose. I could feel my face burning, but I knew I had no choice. I was going to have to go up on that stage.

 

With weak knees and trembling hands, I started up the steps.  I gathered the fullness of the material of my long dress along with its petticoat in my left hand and held onto the banister with my right. As I made my way up the steps, I heard Lucille telling everyone about what a fine job my husband and I had done in fixing up the “Clark place.” She went on to talk about my “smart little girl” and my son with “dimples the size of caverns!” I knew I had to hurry because at the rate she was going, she was sure to share the fact that I had embarrassingly passed gas when I entered her house the day before. I finally reached the top of the stairs and as I stepped out onto the stage I released the material of my dress so it would hang properly. “Now, isn’t she the prettiest little thing you ever saw in your life!” she quipped as she held her hand out for me to come closer to her and the microphone. I took a step towards her, and right there in front of the entire world – I tripped on my dress and fell flat on my face.

 

A hush came over the crowd and everything moved in slow motion for what seemed liked an eternity. Even Lucille was so stunned she could not speak. Then a little boy sitting in the first row began to giggle, then he laughed, and soon he was laughing so hard he was I tears. And little by little, a few others in the crowd began to laugh. To this day I break out in hysterical laughter remembering how I pulled myself up off the stage floor, held my petticoat and dress material all bunched up in my left hand, and walked over to the microphone and calmly stated, “My grandmother always taught me that when I fall down I need to pull myself up by my bootstraps and go on. Does anyone have a bootstrap I could borrow to tie this dang dress up?” Now everyone was laughing and clapping and I realized I could laugh at myself, which I did. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.    

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2008 9:38 am

    You have a delightful way of writing. I felt I was standing in the audience cheering for you to step on stage. A great story!!

    ~~Hi Linda. Thank you for the kind words – although I should warn you, compliments like these only encourage me to write more! Cricket

  2. April 29, 2008 1:11 am

    This is a lovely story. Very descriptive writing, too! 🙂

    ~~Hi Kim. Thank you for the visit and the kind words! Cricket

  3. April 29, 2008 7:05 pm

    If all it takes is a compliment to get more stories like this one, then I’ll hand them out to you in bucketloads! I LOVED it. More please

    ~~Ahhhh, now I’m blushing. Thank you kind sir! Cricket

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