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Sharing A Laugh
By Patsy Clairmont Barbara Johnson Nicole Johnson Marilyn Meberg Luci Swindoll Sheila Walsh Thelma Wells
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Patsy Clairmont, Barbara Johnson, Nicole Johnson, Marilyn Meberg, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh and Thelma Wells
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTea Time and Supper
Laughter and bread go together. -Ecclesiastes 10:19 MSG
I had said, "Never in a million years will I move from Palm Desert, California, to Frisco, Texas." With typical regional arrogance, I believed California to be the only place on earth worthy of loyalty and affection.
So why did I sell my condo in Palm Desert and buy a house in Frisco? Well, here's what seems to have happened. My friend Ney Bailey was driving me around Frisco one morning in search of a good spot for a photo shoot the next day. The photographer wanted an outdoor scene with trees. I've lived in an apartment in Frisco for a few months each year simply because flying from Dallas during our heavy travel season is easier than flying out of Palm Springs, but in those years I didn't ever remember seeing trees. For that matter, I had not seen any hills either, but we apparently didn't need a hill. Ney knew where there were some trees.
We settled on the spot for the photo-shoot but as we were driving away, I saw a house. It beckoned to me. It didn't have any trees, but it was on a lake. The lakeis lovely and only a stone's throw from Luci Swindoll's new house. It's four doors down from Nicole Johnson, a three-minute walk from Mary Graham, and a five-minute drive from Sheila and Barry Walsh. I bought the house and moved into treeless Frisco on December 18, 2004. Mercy!
What a wonder all this is. What draws me to do what I said I'd never do is not only God's relentless pushing and pulling but my love of community. My community is fast congregating in Frisco. God seems to think I need to be there. I like that about Him. I didn't put that plan into motion; He did.
Why is community so important to me? I'm sure it's because I'm an only child. I am energized by the presence of people. Growing up in somewhat isolated and rural communities, I didn't always find a sufficient number of people around. Thank goodness for Mrs. Dunbar.
Mrs. Dunbar was a short bike's ride from my house in Amboy, Washington. We had a weekly tea time at three o'clock each Tuesday. I loved visiting with her because she made the best cookies I've tasted in my short 206 years on this earth. Each Tuesday she made a different cookie for our tea times. When I'd walk into her old rambling house across the street from Wires Cleaners, I'd nearly faint from the glorious smell of just-out-of-the-oven cookies. But not only did I love her cookies, one of her favorite activities in life was to laugh. We made a great pair because it's one of my favorite activities as well.
Mrs. Dunbar had an ill-fitting pair of false teeth that clicked when she talked. She would put me in hysterics by sliding the bottom teeth out of her mouth as far as she could. The goal was to keep them from falling to the floor before she managed to lift them high enough to touch the end of her nose. When she succeeded, we rewarded ourselves with another cookie. By the way, it was considered cheating to use her hands to help the teeth touch the end of her nose.
I was devastated when Mrs. Dunbar died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. Her son told my father how peaceful she looked lying in bed when he found her. Everything was in order: glasses on top of her Bible, aspirin bottle on the night stand beside her teeth in a glass. I knew it would sound weird if I asked permission to have her teeth, so I kept my mouth shut. But the memory of her laughter and the sight of her teeth meant the world to me. I'd love to live in a community full of Mrs. Dunbars.
The Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, "It is not the level of prosperity that makes for happiness but the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world that knits us together." Those are my requirements for a successful community. Amy Cella, Nicole Johnson's assistant, is also in this community. She not only meets the requirements, but she, too, is only minutes away from the rest of us. There is a special kinship of heart between us.
Last Sunday some of the community had brunch together after church. I turned to Amy and asked, "What's the best thing that happened to you this week?"
Without the slightest hesitation she said, "I bought a cow." That was one of those delicious fork-dropping moments.
"You what?" nearly everyone chorused. I was envisioning PetSmart and wondering how such a purchase could be made.
Sheila, who was absolutely incredulous, said, "Why? Why would you want to buy a cow?"
I was still lost in PetSmart.
"I bought the cow for food," Amy said.
Still unable to fathom this action, Sheila said, "Are you that sick of grocery shopping? You know our new Kroger is a nice store-it's only two minutes from your house."
"No, that's not the problem," Amy persisted. "I just want to raise my own beef. I'll feed it only the best 'cow food' and be sure it gets superior care."
Patsy warned Amy about getting attached to the cow.
Sheila suggested not giving the cow a name to restrict possible bonding.
"Oh, I've already named the cow," Amy said. "I'm going to call it Supper. Then after it's grown I can invite people for Supper."
I did one of my spontaneous and obnoxious hoot laughs; there was no getting me under control, in spite of the many disapproving looks I got. That laugh was as hearty as those inspired by Mrs. Dunbar's touch-the-nose-with-the-bottom-teeth trick.
Actually, as I thought about it, I fully understood what Amy is doing. She is raising her recently purchased Supper on a ranch about fifteen minutes from here. We used to do the same thing in the Amboy days. Dad would buy a beef cow, raise it on Harry Hooper's farm, and then off to slaughter it went. We would then stop by Boehm's Deep Freeze every few days and bring home supper. I remember hating it, though. I had named one of the suppers Molly and felt tremendously disloyal as I looked at her on my plate.
Recently I read a newspaper account of a ninety-one-year-old woman who was enthusiastically joining neighborhood friends for a slumber party. The party was from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. They came in robes, pajamas, and slippers and left whenever they got tired. I can see that happening some thirty years from now in Frisco. I love the notion of being with my dear community right up until the time of slumber parties.
It was Plato who said, "Let me tell you, the more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me is the pleasure and charm of conversations." The only pleasure Plato failed to mention that so characterizes my community is laughter. We will always have conversation ... we will always have laughter. What a joy!
Chapter TwoFashion Non-Sense
Why do we do it to ourselves? Generation after generation of women have willingly exposed themselves to the high risk of pantyhose strangulation, girdle-induced respiratory arrest, and turtleneck tracheotomies. What kind of sick people punish themselves like this?
Even men, for some unknown reason, are into some forms of fashion self-punishment. If you don't believe me, just look at the necktie. Who came up with that idea? Did some fashion designer from the Wild West watch a hanging one day and say, "Now, there's a look that could really catch on"?
Some otherwise intelligent, levelheaded women have sentenced themselves to a lifetime of girdle incarceration. Every morning they insist on squeezing their bodies into those torture devices, one layer at a time. Once it's past the knees, the real tug of war begins. Up a little on the right, up a little on the left. If they're not careful, they can lose their balance and end up doing a little ballet across the room. Actually, it might be more like an opera when you consider the high notes they'll hit every time one of the metal stays pokes them in the ribs.
I've done it myself, and it leaves me asking one simple question-why? Why do we as thinking human beings do these incredibly punishing things to our bodies?
The most torturous of all has got to be pantyhose. Frankly, I can't imagine how the patent office ever approved the original application for this stuff.
"A nylon half-body suit that fits like a tourniquet but gradually loosens throughout the day until it falls in folds at the ankle like ribbon candy. And it comes in colors. Patent granted. Women'll love it!"
Spandex punishes both sexes. And in some cases, it punishes the onlooker, too. It takes a certain physique to be able to wear spandex, and many of the people we see wearing it these days have seriously violated the Spandex Rules of Engagement.
Sweats, on the other hand, are our reward for having endured decades of fashion abuse. Sweats are comfortable. Roomy. And forgiving. They keep us warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They come in a multitude of colors, and while they don't look that great with high heels and pearls, they do fit in on most occasions.
I guess the bottom line is this: our clothes shouldn't punish us. Adam and Eve may have been acting out of guilt when they first put some on, but that was a long time ago. The debt's been paid.
-I Think, Therefore I Have a Headache
Excerpted from Sharing A Laugh by Patsy Clairmont Barbara Johnson Nicole Johnson Marilyn Meberg Luci Swindoll Sheila Walsh Thelma Wells Copyright © 2007 by Patsy Clairmont, Barbara Johnson, Nicole Johnson, Marilyn Meberg, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh and Thelma Wells. Excerpted by permission.
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