The Day I Learned To Laugh

This post is actually an excerpt from my upcoming book–which I’m working hard on having released by the end of this year. The book is a memoir of life lessons I’ve learned over the years. This lesson (which is a TRUE story) taught me how to laugh at all the beautiful struggles I endure on my quest to Make Life Magnificent. Enjoy 🙂

           …I’d convinced my mom to buy me “the hooker boots!” They were so stylish: black leather, knee-high, four and a half inch heel, “sexy boots” is what I called them! I had no business wearing these or the khaki shirt with two long splits up the side. After all, I was only in high school! But high school wasn’t the time to be rational or logical or use the good sense God gave us. It was the time to be social and popular and impressive, and I just had to impress him. This outfit is just what I needed to pull it off.

           The big day finally arrived. My outfit and hair were just right, and after what seemed like an eternity, the lunch bell finally rang. He was standing where I knew he’d be, by the vending machines in our high school cafeteria, with his other football buddies. He was so adorable. All I needed was for him to catch a good glimpse of me going down the stairs in my sexy boots and skirt, and I knew he would officially be mine! Now, when I really look back on all this, I wish the shoes would have come with an instruction manual; “WARNING: Please do not attempt to operate while under the influence of high school puppy love!” If the manufacture did have that label attached, I obviously missed it!

             In my own little love world, I was waving and smiling to Mr. Adorable as I headed down the stairs. In my own little love world, he was winking at me, while waving and smiling back. Yet in the real world, the heel of one of those “hooker boots” got stuck on the edge of the top step and the next thing I knew, I was going head first down the stairs. To my dismay, I landed flat on my back right beside the vending machines. This wasn’t a head-first type fall; this was literally a head over heels fall. My backpack flipped over my head and my entire body seemed to do a somersault down the stairs. Instead of my secret crush admiring me, he and his friends were standing directly over me–as I lay sprawled on my back–yelling, “Oh my God, are you ok?” This is definitely NOT what I had in mind.

                  “Tanya, are you alright?”
                   “Man she hit that floor kind of hard!”
                  “Pull her skirt down, you can see her…”
                   “Maybe we should try to pick her up.”
                  “Naw man, she might be dead or something!”
                 “Tanya, Tanya…!”

          I lay completely motionless. I figured if I played dead, somehow all of this would either just magically rewind and I could start the day over, or I’d just disappear into thin air. Where’s that convenient little fairy godmother when you need her?


        A teacher who saw the commotion, called the ambulance and they rushed me to a hospital thinking I’d had some kind of head injury. My mom had a real field day with this one, since she never liked those boots anyway! Luckily, my hospital stay was very brief. The doctor’s diagnosis was “post-traumatic embarrassment!” After all, the hard part wasn’t the fall, it was having to face the high school masses. The hard part was having to face him again.

*                                              *                                        *                                      *

             The greatest lesson I’d ever learn was right upon my heels–literally and figuratively. Mr. Adorable approached me during lunch a couple of days later with a look of concern splattered across his face. My first thought was that I would literally die or pass out right in front of him. I couldn’t believe that this was the way I had to face him. Then the unthinkable happened. When he asked me was I ok, I busted out laughing: the tear jerking, belly holding kind of laughing, and he started laughing too! I don’t know if I was laughing out of fear that he would laugh first or if being so close to the “crime scene” brought on a flashback of my fall or maybe it was a combination of so many things happening at once. Whatever the case, I laughed hysterically at myself and my huge mistake. And like magic, everything was ok.

          As Mr. Adorable and I re-enacted the whole thing through our jerks of laughter, it seemed as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulder. Although he and I never dated, we did become very good friends and shared many more laughs together. On top of this, I learned one of the best lessons of my life: Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself! Cut yourself some slack and don’t take everything so seriously. One day your embarrassments will only be faint memories. I’ve carried this lesson with me from that high school day to my shaky graduation speech, my first day of college away from home, as I almost tripped down the aisle on the day of my wedding, at my dramatic display of giving birth to my son, and even now as a single mother and young widow who is working hard every day to make life better. I have had plenty more “post-traumatic embarrassments” with plenty more heartaches and disappointments in the mix. When I get to the end of those days, I remember this lesson and I smile. 🙂

      The next time you feel the urge to crawl inside yourself and cry over life’s mishaps, think about the cow cheese commercial that asks, “Have you laughed today?”         *                                             *                                       *


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