THE ONE WHERE I TELL ABOUT MAKING MY HUSBAND SPARKLE

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Let me set the scene. My husband,as you may know, was once a college football coach. Over the years, we moved around in a few states chasing his coaching dreams. One of those states was Pennsylvania. We were at this particular school for seven years and because of the perk of tuition remission, I got my college degree there. This school holds fond memories for me for reasons other than being my alma mater. I fondly remember our time there because of the friendships we formed with the coaching staff and their families.

College coaching consumes a lot of time and so the wives sort of banded together as a support system for the terminally neglected. It was either that or go everywhere and do everything alone. Actually, it was great having women who knew EXACTLY what you were going through as mentors and friends.

One the best times of our week was after a home football game. Everyone was ready to either celebrate or relax and commiserate before coaching meetings started again on Sunday night. No one in our group was getting rich (I didn’t say we were at a Division I school), so a lot of our entertainment was homegrown. We would take turns holding potlucks and BBQ’s at each other’s houses. There was lots of laughter, analyzing plays, telling tales and squeals of children playing kick the can. We enjoyed each other’s company.

Sometimes someone would attempt to ratchet up the fun by throwing an impromptu costume party. We would arrive at someone’s house and then be told we had one hour to go home and come back in costume. The fact that our testosterone driven football coaching husbands participated in this scenario speaks loudly to the security we felt in each other’s company or the power of the coaches’ wife. Either way, I’m so glad they did because we had a blast! Some of my favorite impromptu costumes had to be the totally politically incorrect and sacrilegious priest with a broken condom hanging out of his pocket and his partner the pregnant nun and the guy who came as a chef with an apron full of cooking utensils that he used to stir people’s drinks and pinch people’s posteriors.

I was fortunate enough to have a husband who was also a wrestling coach because his yellow singlet came in VERY handy in the ole impromptu costume making department! It was the center of two of our most creative costume masterpieces.

The first of the masterpieces involved the yellow singlet and a full length zipped to the chin bright blue robe. Luckily for me the children had been Smurfs for Halloween that year and I had a supply of blue face paint! So, in a moment of sheer brilliance, I put on the robe, painted my face blue and stuck a feather in my hair. Voila! The Indian Ocean!

My husband’s costume, however was not only brilliant, but appropriate for the day. The school’s mascot was a yellow jacket. With yellow singlet in hand we made him into a giant bee. We began the transformation by having him put on black sweatpants and a black hooded sweatshirt. Over this was placed the singlet. I fashioned antennae out one of our daughter’s headbands and pipe cleaners. I then stuffed the bum of the singlet with newspaper and attached a pipe cleaner designed “stinger”. The outfit was completed with the use of black electrical tape stripes and my husband’s promise to say “buzz buzz”.

The memory still brings a tear to my eye and a cockle warming to my heart,

The second time the singlet was used in the impromptu challenge it was paired with my use of a Hawaiian print shirt and glasses with an attached nose and mustache. Line dancing to country music was popular at the time and we were in possession of a belt with a very large buckle. Carrying the belt for inspiration, I scoured the kid’s room and I found a spray can of gold body glitter and the glasses with false mustache. I don’t know, but I found them and inspiration for a set of costumes complete with role play.

I became the manager of the big WWF wrestler called “THE GOLD NUGGET”. It was simple really. He put on the singlet. I sprayed him all over with gold glitter and created a championship belt out of foil and the Urban Cowboy belt and buckle. I wore a fedora with a press pass in the band and the tropical print shirt. We stopped at the drive-thru for a really big, really cheap cigar. I spent the night chewing on my cigar, challenging people to wrestling smackdowns in Cleveland on the 25th (seemed like a good day) and having my husband put people in head locks. Good times.

What we failed to appreciate then was that having a group of friends like this was rare. Since that time we have never had the pleasure of spending time with people with whom we felt so comfortable or with whom be had so much in common. They know who they are and if they read this. I miss you.

 

You think you could at least get a chuckle…laughing at life.

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downloadBeing able to laugh at yourself or at life is, in my opinion, a gift.  Difficult or embarrassing situations are a lot easier to swallow if they are flavored with laughter. I don’t mean to suggest that not being able to laugh at difficult situations is somehow a shortcoming. I’ve been convinced over the years that pain is a relative thing. When you are there it is hard to be objective. And, I am fully aware that sometimes laughing and often under reacting is not a healthy defense mechanism. Some things are just not meant to be laughed about. I am aware that I need to be on guard and sensitive towards others feelings.  But, often I find my self coping with life through laughter.

For the purpose of this article, (my entertainment) I’ve divided situations into three categories; embarrassing, difficult, and OMG what do you do with this? Let me share some of my favorite laughing at life moments.

EMBARASSING:
In my early 20’s, I went on my first trip to Washington, DC. I was treated to a guided tour by my Aunt and Uncle who lived and had worked there during the 60’s. In fact, my Aunt says Bobby Kennedy once sat on her desk! In preparation, I bought some new summer outfits including a beautiful pair of leather sandals. We had a wonderful day exploring monuments and my favorite; museums. They had to drag me away from Dolly Madison’s shoes in the Smithsonian. There was no time to get lost in historical revelry when there was so much more to see! On our way to the Capitol, it began to rain. Luckily, we were prepared with those folded up to the size of an envelope plastic raincoats. I remember talking about the beauty of the building as we walked through the rain and unavoidable puddles to the Capitol’s steps. We had reached the top and walked inside to face the guards at the door when my new expensive leather sandals fell apart. They literally fell to pieces.
I’m not sure what  the appropriate response would be in this scenario. But, I chose to attempt humor. “I suppose you’ve seen everything now?” I quipped to the guards. No response. Not even a smile. Needless to say they would not let us enter bare-footing. Our sightseeing trip had been prematurely cut short. But, my embarrassment was not. We had to trek our way back to the train. I continued to try and make light of the situation, despite seeing my Aunt’s red and obviously embarrassed face.  I mean really who does this happen too?!

Evidently, me.

DIFFICULT:
I went to college as an adult. As my husband predicted, I was a sponge who soaked up every bit of knowledge I could. I was never afraid to take on different or difficult assignments because I loved the intellectual challenge! College and learning was fun! So, when the most challenging literature prof proffered a list of books for reading and then analyzing, I of course chose the oldest and most obscure on the list. I went to the campus library and checked out the novel which to my surprise hadn’t been checked out in some twenty plus years. The cover and it’s yellowed pages fairly reeked of disuse. I loved it! And, evidently so did our new puppy.

I came home one afternoon to find my living room littered with shreds of yellowed and obscure literature.  Please understand this was pre “Just go to the internet and find a copy”.  I had a paper due and I didn’t have the book it was supposed to be written about! What to do? What to do? Difficult.  I decided to gather the book into a garbage bag and take it to class as proof that the dog had indeed “ate my homework”.  I approached my professor, explained and offered him the contents of the bag should he desire to see the complete destruction. In a voice devoid of emotion he asked, “What kind of dog is it?” My response? “A literary critic?”  His response? Nothing.  You’d have thought I would have least gotten a chuckle. Secretly, I believe he probably couldn’t wait to get to the faculty lounge.

OMG WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THIS?:

My last example is proof that the coping mechanism of laughing inappropriately can be a familial issue.  My nephew had a very long battle with an infection that resulted in the loss of his leg above the knee.  He spent months in the hospital and faced pain and disappointment over and over again. When he was finally released, the family went to Olive Garden to celebrate.  During dinner, someone dropped and broke a glass.  When the waiter came to clean the broken glass my nephew said, in an OBVIOUSLY relieved tone of voice, ” Thank God you’re here! Someone could have lost a leg!”

Yep.

To add insult to injury, my sister’s husband went to the parking lot for a smoke and had a stroke and they ended up back at the hospital. My sister thought the irony was hilarious.

I know we are not alone in our inappropriate laughter.  I’ve heard from other folks whose families have gotten through a lot of stuff…by laughing.at life.