I discovered something recently about myself. I am a ham. Now, that may not surprise my friends and family, but to me, I'm more than a little delighted that certain things I do or say make people laugh, and there's nothing quite as intoxicating as feeding off that laughter and letting it snowball into a totally unabashed and unfettered power trip.
I'm pretty sure I know the source or sources, I should say of this newfound skill: it's two jobs that I have, the ones that help me pay my way, and they are a bringing out the comedienne in me, me thinks and nothing could tickle me more, to tell you the truth. Firstly, I work as a standardized patient for the College of Medicine at the University of Kentucky, a job that mainly requires me to learn at least one different persona with a different malady and set of symptoms every week, but it also takes the spirit of a true storyteller, and it just so happens that I come from a long line of yarn spinners (even though nobody in my family probably would've ever used that term) - and so yes, I will be more than happy to throw the surprise 'symptom' or element in for the med students to handle at the last second (like this: "Oh, yeah...now that I think about it, I WAS hospitalized as a child ... for the same problem - four or five times, I think!" that one's my favorite) -- it makes the students (who are all darling and smart in my view) get slightly flustered, their faces turn red and blotches start breaking out all over their necks...their classmates laugh...I'm in control...it's fun!
The other work I do that requires a bit of improvisation is bartending, and for that job, I have to be not only quick on my feet, but I have to adjust my personality for every person that steps up to my bar, so I adjust it so that a) I don't tick them off by asking for their I.D. or telling them that cans of beer are $5 a piece and b) I'm just charming enough to get the biggest tip possible from them without being ridiculous ... or skanky. It's tricky, but I am loving every minute of slinging drinks as much as I yam working for the College of Medicine and helping them produce wonderful doctors as they go out into the world to heal and do the noble work they are destined to do.
So, I love all my jobs (and I have FOUR part time jobs presently), but my two favorites involve a little bit of pretense, a dollop of mischief and a thick slice of the Kentucky ham that I yam, sweet potatoes.
As a closing thought, I have to share with you the wonderful day I had that began with worship for All Saints Day involving Malcolm MacGregor on the bagpipes playing Highland Cathedral, The Ashgrove and Simple Gifts, Josh Santana singing Peace In the Valley (there were not enough tissues in the world to cover the tears shed during that song) and my choir sang Old Time Religion with marvelous solos by Keith, Amanda and Mary-Hollis.
There was a list of 38 people in our congregation who have claimed the hope of their Baptism this past year, and a candle was lit for each one of them as their names were read. One of them was my very first care receiver, Evelyn, a nice lady with whom I became very close over the last 12 years as she healed both physically and spiritually, and I even though she was elderly, her passing caused my heart to ache as I remembered the months we spent together so long ago when she had fallen and broken both of her wrists. I will always be glad for the time we spent together, but to know she is physically gone from my life is more than a little tough to take since her life touched me in such a profound and moving way...
Another name that was read on that list today was that of a sweet gentleman named John Irvin, an attorney from Lexington who I happened to meet at my very first Rosemary Clooney concert in 1990. It was at Northern Kentucky University, he and I were on the front row and happened to be seated together, so we started talking before Rosie came out to sing. He was proud to tell me he had dated her a few times 'way back when' and also he beamed when he pulled out the paper bag under his chair and showed me a nice collection of very ripe tomatoes -- the sight of which caused me to recoil in fake horror as I cautioned him not to throw them Rosemary. He laughed and explained to me that no, Rosemary had always told him out of all the things she missed when she traveled, one delicacy that was hard to replicate was the taste of Kentucky tomatoes. He had brought in the sack to give her; and soon thereafter, just before the concert was about to begin, he was taken backstage to present his gift to her. Upon her entrance, after the applause died down, she immediately thanked him for the tomatoes and pointed directly to him in the audience to recognize him. I felt at that moment that indeed I had surely been blessed to be seated beside such a great friend of such a great lady.
I say all of that to say this: I guess friendship, kindness, love, hospitality and an entertaining nature are the hallmarks that I seek in people, whether deliberate or not -- and I am very fortunate to have found cool folks to share my life with -- and tonight, as I met with my girlfriends Allie, Natalie, Debbie and Robin (who is always traveling these days so we never see her), I realized that even though there is not a sack of ripe tomatoes waiting for me when I perform, even though there are no standing ovations in my future, even though I am not a performer per se, the fruits of my labor are just as nourishing as any on earth.
At this point, I realize there is no real point to this blog, other than I just wanted to get all those feelings out and put them in your hands, my lambchops. I know that if you care about me, you will consider me in your prayers or meditations and hope that good things come my way...and I will, of course, do the same for you.
I also want to share with you a prayer that was used in worship today:
Eternal God, from whose love neither death nor life can separate us:
Grant that we may serve you faithfully here on earth,
and in heaven rejoice with all your saints,
who ceaselessly proclaim your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen
For all the saints, who from their labors rest ... allelujia!
pray for peace, y'all,