74th: When another speaks be attentive yourself and disturb not the audience; if any hesitates in his words, help him not, nor prompt him without desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him till his speech be ended.
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WITH STYLE AND GRACE
7 November 2004
Friday night, Ellen and Shelly took me to the historic Crest Theatre in Sacramento to see comedienne Kate Clinton.
I have a warm spot in my heart for the Crest. It's where I saw The Vagina Monologues and then Puppetry of the Penis, so there are lots of...uh...memories.
We were all in a mood where we felt we needed to laugh, but Ellen wondered if Clinton was comedienne enough to get her past the depression she was feeling over the election.
I dunno why, but I've never seen such a post-election depression (PESD, "Post-Election Stress Disorder"). I've voted for losing candidates before--in fact, usually--but the emotions were running so high in this election and Kerry supporters are so depressed that Dr. Phil appeared on the Today Show to talk about how to get past the depression, and the front page of our newspaper last night was a big headline article with an interview with a psychiatrist about how to deal with the depression.
I can certainly understand--I'm the person who went to bed in tears the night of the election and woke up at 4 a.m. in tears because I was so upset.
For Ellen and Shelly it is particularly bad because they've been receiving hate mail telling them it's their fault because it was the issue of gay marriage which pushed Bush over the top and that if they had just given up their fight for equal rights, Kerry would have won. Shelly received the first e-mail literally one minute after Bush claimed victory.
So Ellen was dubious about whether or not even a lesbian comedienne could make her laugh.
But she did. I'd never heard of Kate Clinton before, but she's very, very funny and had the audience howling. Her humor is political, so just what this audience of Kerry supporters needed.
We were all in a somewhat better mood as we rode back to Davis. I was happy to have spent such an enjoyable evening and was grateful to Ellen and Shelly for treating me to the show.
Shelly pulled the car into my driveway and I opened the door to get out.
Now, I should mention here that as my knee is (a) not improving and (b) getting a little worse, getting into and out of a car becomes a major project. The worst cars to get out of are cars where the floor of the car is depressed enough so that you have to lift your leg up and over the body of the car to get out. Somehow that little extra inch requires more physical dexterity than I am sometimes capable of.
Shelly & Ellen's car is such a car. I was sitting in the back seat and I opened the door, thanked them for a lovely evening, and proceeded to figure out how best to get out of the car.
It's tricky because it involves where to place your hands, where to put your other foot, and how to get the bad leg up and out without smashing your fingers on the car door, which may decide to swing shut at any moment.
(...and you thought getting out of a car was such an automatic thing, didn't you!)
So I managed to get the good leg out the door and I managed to shift my weight to balance on it, and I was watching the car door to make sure it wasn't about to smash my fingers, and I was starting to lift my butt off the seat when two things happened.
The first was that I let fly a huge fart, and the second was that as I tried to tense up my buttock muscles to prevent further farts, the muscle on the back of my bad leg went into a terrible cramp.
And because I was standing there crying "oooo! aaaaa! ouch!" I wasn't in control of my body and I continued to let out a string of farts.
Look...Emily Post I ain't!
I can only imagine the conversation in the car after I left!
I have never been accused of having the grace of a gazelle. I don't even have the grace of a hippo. I know those hippos can actually put on tutus and dance a ballet. I've seen them.
I sometimes have difficulty walking across the floor without tripping (of course the fact that it's usually littered with Sheila toys may be part of the problem).
It seems the memory tape of my life is filled with mortifying moments when I lost all pretense of gentility.
And of course the older you get, the worse it gets. Trying to get out of bed or up from a chair without farting is more than a cliché about older people, it's a reality.
I remember walking across a parking lot with Steve on an icy morning in Rochester, NY--my birthday, in fact--and my feet slipped out from under me and I landed flat on my back in the ice. Sensitive Steve called out "Wait a minute--let me get my camera" and when passers by expressed concern for my condition, Steve called out "It's OK--she has lots of padding."
Then, of course, there was the little incident of flying over the handlebars of my bike and ending up surrounded by paramedics, police, other cyclists and a meter maid.
But my lack of grace is not something that has come with being past the middle of my lifespan. It started very early in my life. I can remember Pat Pattison laughing at me whenever I moved because I looked so clumsy. How I hated spending time with him, because it was one taunt after another, which made me feel like a big lummox.
And then there was the day I was out in a park, a park that had no bathroom facilities, and I simply couldn't "hold it" any more, so took myself into the bushes to pee...and ripped the entire back of my pants open on a tree branch. It was about 5 blocks home and I had to make the whole trip walking with my backside up against the buildings, absolutely mortified.
Or the time I made "just a quick trip" down to the train station to drop someone off in the early morning, so I didn't bother to put on street clothes, but went in my pajamas and bare feet...and, of course, the car died about a mile from home. This was in the days before cell phones (and even if I had a cell phone I wouldn't have thought to bring it), so I had to go wandering around an apartment complex in my bare feet and night clothes looking for someone who was awake and would let me use their telephone to call Walt.
Peggy caught on pretty quickly that I was not exacty lithe and limber and she was forever following me around stores, grabbing my purse before it hit something. She rolled her eyes in exasperation when I knocked over a display in a store in San Diego and by the time we hit Seattle, she had reached the point where if she wanted to shop in a store with cramped quarters she would say, firmly, "you. wait. outside."
I can only imagine what I'll be like if I have to finish out my days in a convalescent hospital. I type reports for the psychiatrist all the time about the bizarre behavior of people with Alzheimers or dementia. Those are people who probably started out as prim and proper. Lord only knows when you are already a klutz what the loss of all control can do to you.
So be forewarned, if you ever invite me to come along on any sort of excursion with you, be prepared to find me embarrassing myself by falling down or knocking something over, or at the very least farting in your car.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Kookaburra up in the old gum tree