laughter and resilience part 1

the personal story bit before any of the sciency bits

I likes me a good story - both in the telling and the receiving. Although, I am a tad impatient, if the telling of the tale is done well, I’m all in.

So. This is a pretty core story.

This is the story that started a lot of this.

This story was the story I told for my initial Blue Man Audition.

This is the story that my solo clown show is based on.

And this story?

This story is about my Granddad.

It’s funny, I’ve talked to my uncles about him. I remember him as a child, a grandson. They knew him as an adult and they knew him as his sons.

It’s a pretty privileged position to be a grandparent. I see my Dad with my son. Their connection is special. Different. Unencumbered by relational baggage, the two of them just dig each other.

I loved my granddad. He was my hero. I remember him as creative, fun loving and kind. He was the most powerful person I knew. He never went to watch me in sports or recitals. We did things together.

Memories of him are faint at this point. The links go to stories that have appeared here so far.

Building a fort.

The Basketball net.

The story of his watch.

Hiding in a closet.

Shouting boo!

Touching his feet and making him jump when he passed out in his chair after supper.

He had a barrel chest.

He could do amazing things with a tractor.

My earliest memory was when they moved the store.

My granddad?

He pulled it down the road with tractor.

They rolled it on logs to get it there.

In the hero pantheon, there was Wayne Gretzky,

And Eddie Murphy.

But at the top?

My Granddad.

When I was in the 11th grade my granddad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During his treatment, he stayed with us in town to make the drive to the hospital easier.

I watched as the medicine changed him. His ruddy cheeks? Ashen. He looked like a ghost. Everything about him seemed frail, distant, missing and essentially on the way out.

Between the cancer and the chemo, he pretty much was on his way out. His chest seemed hollow, his handshake? Less mighty.

It’s an odd thing how something can seem to happen way to quickly and agonizingly slowly at the same time. The school play happened when he was in treatment. I was in it. This man, who never ever watched my do stuff - we did stuff together - he came to the show.

Opening night.

He’s in the audience. He’s there with my whole family. They’re in the third row. I could see my Granddad’s face from backstage.

I was excited.

Too excited it seems. I screwed up my entrance. I came in way too early. Everyone on stage froze and stared at me.

I looked everyone. My eyes went big.

Oh shit

That’s what I said.

That was not my line. It was however what I said.

In fact, the words “Oh Shit” didn’t show up anywhere in the script of ‘Scholars, Soundrells’ and Shakespeare. I know this. This was made exhaustively, repetitively, loudly and all too painfully clear after the fact.

At the time however?

I froze.

Smoke, having escaped the directors ears was billowing out of the lighting booth. Three hundred sets of eyes from the audience, six from the band and about twenty from backstage were all fixed on me.

Mine?

Mine were on my granddad.

He was laughing.

So what did I do?

What could I do?

I did it again.

Oh shit!

More laughter from my granddad.

People on stage were beginning to giggle.

A shiver of a laugh began to build within the audience.

I noticed it all.

Shame switched to joy.

HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME!

OH SHIT!

The laughter was intoxicating.

My grandad?

He laughed so hard he fell out of his chair.

After? I was buzzing.

Alive.

I never ever ever ever ever felt so good.

So alive.

I found my Grandad in the lobby.

His skin was rosy. He was walking more upright.

Ghostly?

Not at all.

Mostly?

It was nothing but love.

In that moment?

He looked like I remembered him.

He looked like MY granddad.

The laughter was healing, if only for a moment.

And in that moment?

That was enough.

When he saw I gave him a big, sweaty hug.

He pumped my hand and said:

I never thought ya had it in ya to be so funny.

And in that moment?

A clown was born.


One Derful Thing

Use the phrase “Hit me baby one more time” in every day speech.

A drive through?

A bank?

Yoga class?

Zoom meeting with the boss?

Have fun.

Reply to this and let me know where you used it.