The Gift of Laughter with Tears

by Sean Dietrich
It’s the day before my birthday and it’s cold in Coosa County, Alabama. Lake Martin never looked so good.

You won’t care about this, but fifteen years ago I didn’t know my purpose on this planet. Today, I’m middle-aged, and I still don’t know—only, now I have a bad back.

This morning, I ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel, it should be noted, doesn’t have the greatest biscuits, but in a pinch they’ll keep you alive.

An old woman and her daughter sat at the table beside mine. The woman was in a wheelchair, with messy hair. And talkative.

“That man needs to shave!” she hollered.

Several people in the room giggled.

Cute, I was thinking, looking around for an abominable snowman.

“He needs to SHAVE!” she shouted again, this time in my general direction.

“Mama,” gasped her daughter. “Be nice.”

I smiled at the old woman. And that’s when it hit me. This lady was yelling about me.

I am the Bigfoot.

And I became a middle-schooler again. It was like a bad dream, only without the corduroy pants and the Barry Manilow music.

The woman’s daughter apologized. But I told her it wasn’t necessary.

The old lady went on, “Your face looks like a big, fat bear!”

Precious memories. How they linger.

Eventually, she calmed and I finished breakfast in peace. She, more or less, forgot about me—until I stood to leave. Then, she noticed me again.

Her old passions reignited.

“Go shave your dumb face!” she hollered.

The daughter whispered to me, “I’m SO sorry, my mother has no filter.”

I got into my truck and took a few breaths. I looked into the rearview mirror.

I don’t know what that woman might be going through. Maybe she’s not in control of her mind. Maybe she’s had a traumatic experience involving too much hair.

Either way, all I could see in my mirror was a chubby middle-schooler who looked like Cousin It. I saw a boy I’d almost forgotten. A mediocre athlete, a redhead, a C-student, a face like a Pilsbury ad.

My birthday is on the horizon, I’m thinking, and some woman just called me ugly. In public. Repeatedly.

It started in my belly and went to my throat. I laughed. Hard. I don’t know why. The universe has a sense of humor, I guess.

Funny, what words can do to a man. Simple, little words. They can make you feel good. Or bad. Or they can make you feel like the mascot for U.S. forest fire prevention.

So my purpose in life. I still don’t know what it is. But I can tell you my aspiration: to be nice.

That’s it.

I don’t have any grand plan. No big ideas. I just want to be the fella who smiles more than he doesn’t.

If you ask me—which you didn’t—the world has enough people who have figured life out. They’re smart, prudent, with four-car garages.

That’s not me. I can’t even remember how to play Bingo. But I do know the person I want to be. I want to be the man who hugs strangers, pets stray dogs, and uses nice words. A man you might pass on the street, then say to yourself:

“Look, there goes a nice guy…

“Who just happens to look like Sasquatch.”

(I get Sean Dietrich’s posts on face book. They are all right out of his life and ours, simple, touching, funny, and inspiring. Not sure how to re blog so you can follow him also. I copied this. Hope you can find his site from his name. Believe me, I know my day is going to get better when I see a post of his show up on my face book.)

About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of nine, great-grandmother of five. 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator, Was married for 60 years to an Architect in Middle Tennessee.

Posted on December 29, 2017, in Gifts of Age, Humor, Mental Health, self-doubt, spirituality, Total Humiliation, Truth in humor and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thank you. This touched my gut – so true and so painful. And so beautiful.

    Hope your Christmas was blessed. I’ve got a cold – and the one from the grand kids isn’t due for 3 more days! This must be a pre-Christmas gift from an unknown admirer. My Christmas colds are the gifts that keep on giving.

    Wishing joy and health and peace for all of us in the New Year.  Ted’s wife Joan just left.  She’s a little to the right of Trump, extremely bright, works for an accounting firm in DC that deals with govt. regulations and explained all the fake news to me. Even Fox News is only 40% correct. I have plenty to think about as I recover from my cold(s). YUCK!

    Love and prayers, Myra   


  2. ah… me and my husband who are gonna renew our vows Jan 1, walk past a house with a little bigfoot “stained glass” window and we always say hello and thank you little bigfoot… ‘cuz in the NW the yeti be sacred…
    and anyhow… my husband has a big furry beard currently and i just thought of him as the abominable snowman… and told him so…which is a quite nice being actually…
    so i mean to say… keep the beard! Don’t shave!
    Yer beautiful Mr. Sean.


  3. Yes, laughter and tears! Filters are interesting. Some people look through them, and some people lose them. And losing a filter is not generally considered a good thing even if a filterless mind delivers a truth.


    • I am trying to acquire a filter. My son has been in the public eye in our small town in various jobs. And my lack of filter on social media has embarrassed him several times. I am naturally open about a lot of things. (Once a well known woman in our small town told me, “I finally figured out why no one gossips about you. You tell everyone everything!) But recently, my son helped me see that since people are different, telling everything when it involves others is very insensitive and a violation of their right to privacy. So, I am trying very hard, but it is not easy for me, since I often speak before I think. It’s sort of the way I know what I’m thinking, but sometimes now, I actually recognize that what I was about to say isn’t a good idea! It’s only taken 80 years to acquire this skill. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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