In our laughter therapy groups we encourage people to find five things to laugh at everyday, and especially to learn to laugh at themselves. When something embarrassing happens, instead of dying inside, wringing hands and staying red faced for days, we encourage people to think what a good story it will make later.
We have all survived some really funny embarrassing moments.
Some Of Our Embarrassing Stories
Beryl went off to Canberra for a health conference. Her first visit to Parliament House. She was very excited in her new suit, new hairdo, new shoes, and said she felt pretty good. As she walked down the corridor of parliament House, she was amazed at the friendliness of everyone she met. They all smiled at her. She said hello to them all and progressed jauntily on her way. Then she went past a doorway where a young woman stood staring at her. “What’s your name”, the young woman asked?
“Beryl” “I’ll always remember you Beryl”, the woman said. “Why?” asked Beryl, more impressed than ever. “Cause you’ve just walked the whole length of parliament house with your skirt tucked into your knickers”.
My husband and I turned up to vote at our local voting centre on election day.
Chris went first and had his name crossed off the electoral role. I came next and announced heartily, I’m there, underneath my husband. The young man looked at me oddly, squirmed, avoiding eye contact, and I, trying to make things better, only made them worse with, …. Or on top of him, one or the other.
At one of our laughter therapy session a woman came along who had just arrived in the state. She was from Switzerland and her English was fairly good, despite a strong accent. She told us that when she first arrived in Australia, she lived in Adelaide. She joined a local community group and on her first day there was asked to tell them something about herself and her family. Her husband had been Mayor in the town they’d come from and she wanted the group to know that he was an important person. So in her limited English, she announced to all and sundry, “My husband is impotent”. Suddenly she had everyone’s attention. She went on, “Yes, he’s a very impotent man”. People looked at each other in disbelief and then looked away. Someone muttered, “that must be difficult for you”. She went on, “… Oh no. It’s nothing to do with me. He was impotent long before I met him. He’s always been impotent”.
She did not find out her mistake until one of the women said gently, I think you mean important dear. She almost died of embarrassment at the time but has laughed at it and herself since. I am not sure she has ever told her husband.
My sister and I were convent school girls. We were very naïve as teenagers.
I remember once going with her to a hardware shop, not long after leaving school, to buy a few things to fix some bookshelves.
“I’d like a screw”, she announced to one of the two young men behind the counter.
They looked at each other with very strange looks on their faces. She went on, “I don’t want a big one….” “What?” “…. No just a small one”. I thought they’d explode. She didn’t notice. “About this size”, she said, showing with her finger and thumb. One went out the back and we heard shrieks of laughter. I remember the other one trying desperately to keep a straight face, hunting in the boxes.
Kathy’s brother-in-law drives a truck. One evening he drove up behind her car and blasted the truck horn to say hello. A few days later she met him at a busy garage and in front of many people blurted, “…and in future stay away from me with that big horn of yours!”
Beverly told us a story of her honeymoon when the newlyweds were invited for supper by the owners of the guesthouse. She was feeling a bit self conscious about being on her honeymoon and them knowing. They were all sitting on the lounge watching a TV program featuring a giant octopus. “Oh”, she exclaimed, “Look at all those testicles!” And then she died of embarrassment, knowing they would be thinking, well we know what’s on her mind!
My aunt was skilled at making fishing flies for the state’s top fishermen. My uncle was a fitter and turner. Their son came home from school one day with his first story. The class had been asked to write about their family. They were mortified to see that he had written : My mother ties flies while my father fits and turns.
Funny Pixie Outfit
I was asked to speak to a group of carers for the mentally ill about using humour for stress. I said I’d bring some props along with me and wear some funny clothes.
The night arrived and I didn’t really feel like going anywhere. It was winter and cold and I was a bit off colour, but it had been arranged months before and I couldn’t let them down.
So I dressed up warmly in blue wool trousers, big bright woolly ski jumper and coloured boots. I thought I looked pretty OK. I took along my red curly wig and yellow chicken feet in a plastic bag, to put on before I did my presentation.
So off I went.
It was quite a large gathering of carers, psych nurses, a psychiatrist and a couple of psychologists, and they greeted me warmly. The secretary introduced me immediately to the group, thanked me for coming and particularly for wearing my “funny pixie outfit”. I was in my best clothes!
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I couldn’t then take out the stuff from the plastic bag and dress up because they already thought I was in costume. How embarrassing!
I laughed all the way home.
Two weeks before that we’d had a garage sale at home and I had finally decided it was time for an old precious favourite sheepskin jacket to go. Reluctantly I put it out. Along came a little teenybopper of about twelve and exclaimed, “Oh that’s just what I want, how much is it?” She showed me two dollars. “You can have it for that”, I said, glad that my beloved jacket was going to a good loving home. She tried it on and it looked wonderful. “Thanks”, she said as she left, “… this’ll be perfect We’re having a special day at school on Friday and we have to wear something really daggy”.
Laughter or Lust ?
At the health centre where I work we have acronyms for most of the groups, e.g. Overcoming Pain and Living (OPAL), Lungs Under Stress and Trauma (LUST), etc.
One afternoon a little old man arrived at the front desk. “I know I’m meant to be here today but I can’t remember what for”, he said.
“Well”, said the receptionist, checking the board, “this afternoon there’s two things – laughter or lust”.
His little eyes did light up!
“Oh, Either of those will do”, he chirped.
Turned out he had an appointment with the podiatrist to get his feet done.
Spread the Joy
It’s good to leave nice little messages around for family members or friends.
Home made cards with funny messages. Like the one a friend’s eight year daughter made for her father’s birthday. She spent hours drawing and cutting out and pasting and colouring and the result was quite spectacular. But the best part was the message scrawled inside:
Happy Birthday Daddy / and May Your Days be Numbered.