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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author’s program note. It is 5:19 a.m. Still dark outside… so cold… rainy to boot.
My body has found new ways to display its rainbow of black, yellow, purple and green manifestations, all lurid, that take over when it wants me to feel their power. I can’t bend down without wincing… I can’t get up without wincing, but I am happy, ridiculously happy.
You see I have so dodged a bullet that hobbling though I am seems like winning a “God loves you” award. And that, I confess, puts tears in my eye… only that these are tears of wistful gratitude… just in time for Thanksgiving Day, when I shall have the certain use for them. Here’s how it happened…
It started, developed, and ended within the concise boundaries of a single minute, enough time, more than enough, for any injury or mishap you could name. Despite the fact that I was the principal of the tale, I can tell you almost nothing about what happened and that concerns me, for I am ever and acutely on the look-out for signs I am losing my marbles something all senior citizens do (and admit only with the utmost resistance).
I cannot even tell you in detail just what the affected area looks like, not even if I look over my shoulder in the pert come-hither fashion made famous by Betty Grable in the provocative World War II poster that constituted her curvaceous bit toward victory.
Thus when I asked a friend to see what I could not, dropping trousers in approved prep-school fashion, all he said was “ou la la”, but whether for the colorful designs already in place, the (“for your age, Dr. Lant”) pristine flesh they were written on, or just to be the annoying punk he always is, I cannot say. Thus, I remain this Monday morning as uninformed on the matter as Saturday night. Of course this concerns me, too, for it is my fate, along with the millions my age or older, to spend profitless hours wondering at the latest damage we have done to ourselves.
Thus, and not just by gray hairs alone, do we gage our incursion into the byways of seniority… irked by them, most fearful of the moment that stops them forever. In the meantime, we take fervent joy from boring our colleagues witless by inflicting every detail of our latest malady on them, in exhaustive, microscopic detail, continuous, fulsome, unending, the ultimate get-even endeavor. Serves ‘em right.
And so I exercise my immemorial right to tell my story, not forgetting to digress frequently along the way, garrulous, the better to create the mind-numbing tale that will haunt my auditors forever, every single one of them thereafter crossing the street whenever they see me coming, thereby costing them the pleasure of my company. Serves ‘em right.
(Not just) once upon a time.
Have you noticed that stories beginning “once upon a time” always develop sequentially, one thing logically following another, until the princess and her gallant knight share the chaste kiss of eternity? Real life isn’t remotely like that as this story proves. In real life things go in all directions at once, hay wire, so fast you can hardly make sense of a single one. And that disturbs us humans profoundly for all that exists between us and the chaos popping around us is our frail logic and ability to filter, delete, and concentrate… and these, for most, constitute frail weapons indeed, completely inadequate to the task at hand, answering the question we most want answered: “Then what happened?”
There are several ways to handle the events commencing and ending Saturday night. I could say, and without fear of contradiction, I fell. Just that. It is short, sweet, factually accurate and entirely credible. I could say this, but if I did I wouldn’t get much of your available sympathy, would I? That only comes from the additional details I must add to ensure that you listen to me and listen well. Only these details properly told and properly contorted ensure the high degree of empathy I wish to squeeze out of you.
The objective, remember, is maximum TLC for minimum effort. All approaches and possibilities must be reviewed by this exacting standard. For instance, if you are telling the story of your fall to a member of your family renowned for their similarity to “Silent Cal” Coolidge, each word pulled out with tweezers, then you must make your case as a sullen teen-ager would, words extracted with the utmost reluctance and truculence. “Where did you go?” “Out.” “What did you do?” “Nothing”.
People who play the communications game this way treasure such challenges, always aiming for the Guinness Book of Records with their “less is more” approach. Above all else, never argue with them about anything. Each word you use increases their contempt. Instead, present your case by the apt use of silence. “How do you feel?” “Umm.” “Still hurt?” “Umm”. As Henry Ford II famously said, “Never complain. Never explain.” But do look wan, pathetic, bearing it all with the greatest possible forbearance,with frequent sighs and a tear or two when the action palls.
“Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk…”
In 1977 John Travolta and the Bee Gees showed the world, particularly its male component of adolescent years, how to make a statement just by walking down the street, cocky, arrogant, cool to the furthest degree. Their song was “Stayin’ Alive”, and it was the first thing I recalled as I lifted my bruised head off the highly polished and slick oak floor. It was not only the perfect beat (find it in any search engine and see for yourself). It was the perfect message, for my walk at the moment is anything but cocky and assured, yet it tells volumes about how I feel and am progressing.
Instead of skin tight pants and disdain, I walk gingerly through the corridors of my house as if I were square dancing, each foot ahead made possible by grabbing a chair, thereby pulling myself forward, “allemande left” This, too, is dancing… no matter how awkward…and where there is dancing, there is hope.
“Saturday night fever.”
To Travolta and company Saturday night fever meant pure unadulterated animal joy, the thrill of being in the same space as women of the female gender… the thrill of watching your closest friends fail… and the unexpected moment you got the mind-boggling kiss of your adolescence dreams, the kiss you’d remember forever. It was all new, all exciting, every last thing memorable. Then there’s my version of Saturday night fever… 101 degrees and rising faster than the body you are trying to push up and off the floor.
One minute this body is as well as it ever gets (fair to middling); the next it is heaped on the flood, sprawled, crumpled, its landing marked by loud thumps possibly (but only possibly) louder in my imagination than in reality, either way it got my full, addled attention. The fever followed instantly, eager to add its two cents worth to the unexpected concoction. Just like Travolta I gyrated, swirled, dipped and… there the similarities sharply ended for while he went down and came up, pure poetry in motion, I just went down and yelped… something no self-respecting adolescent would ever do upon pain of death. But, then, they don’t know such pains and I do…. I am feeling them right now.
“But you know, it’s all right, it’s ok. I’ll live to see another day ’cause I’m a dancing man… and I just can’t lose.” That’s why Thanksgiving this year will be so very thankful, even if I have to use my brand new cane. What an entrance it will be, abundant proof I am stayin’ alive and understand “The New York Times effect on man.”.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the author of several print publications, ebooks and over one thousand online articles. Republished with author’s permission by Howard Martell <a href=”http://HomeProfitCoach.com”>http://HomeProfitCoach.com</a>. Check out Niche Flipper -> http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=cf4VDpsD