After yesterday's post I trotted off to meet my friend whom I referred to as a "professional opera singer".
Truth is, I really don't know his actual title... like, what does he write down on immigration and customs forms when he's asked for 'occupation?'
Somehow I don't think 'professional opera singer' would be his answer - that's something a 7 year old might call their uncle.
So that's when I had a chuckle at myself.
You see, I've known Stephen since I was I was an awkward, pimple-faced teenager. He's the big brother of my then boyfriend and I was utterly intimidated by him.
Whenever Stephen was a passenger in my car (which was RARE as I avoided this situation at all costs) I would grind the gears, make sudden jerking moves and often stall. I could feel my face burning with utter shame as the sweat beads trickled down my forehead (the persperation may have been due to lack of air conditioning). I desperately wanted the seat to suddenly eject me out of the car so I could disappear.
On Christmas night(s), we would gather around the piano singing carols. Actually, they were singing, I was miming. The fear of the great Steve hearing my less-than-impressive voice was mortifying. I didn't think that being caught out miming might have been worse!
Stephen moved to Europe when I was 21 and I did not see him till I was just days from turning 35. At the time, my husband Patrick and I were travelling south from Switzerland to my parent's hometown in Italy. Stephen was working in Milan and we were literally 'in the neighbourhood', so we thought we'd ought to do the Australian thing and 'pop in'.
I learned that Stephen had risen to the top of his game and had become an internationally renown Tenor. I also learnt that he changed his name to Steve.
We met Steve just as he was finishing his rehearsals - he had the title role of Idomeneo at the season opening of La Scala (Teatro alla Scala is Milan's famous opera house). I believe that in the world of opera, this is considered to be a pinnacle of one's career.
I remember telling Patrick that meeting with Stephen after all these years would be a breakthrough for me. I was sick with nerves and fumbling over the phone as we organised a rendezvous.
Steve looked dashingly sophisticated as he came to greet us in his black leather coat (more like a Georgio Armani male model than Keanu 'The Matrix' Reeves). We gave each other a big hug and he ushered us to his favourite local eatery.
Within minutes of sitting down, I had to come clean. I had to declare to Stephen (in front of Pat) that I was always so nervous around him. I felt intimidated not because he made me... but because I put him up on a pedestal and related to him in a way that only brought shame to myself. He was stunned... and I was free.
We recounted numerous funny stories that evening over a bottle of delicious Italian vino rosso. As we laughed, I gently kissed that awkward, pimple-faced teenager farewell. With her out of the way, I was able to connect with my friend in a way that I never thought possible.
Four and a half years later and I have the most honest and open friendship with Stephen. I realised that being able to laugh at myself has given me the space and freedom to cultivate a very real and treasured relationship.
I wonder if failing to laugh at critical times in my life has contributed to getting lost and if so, will laughing more get me closer to the happy me I want to be?
If Dr. Patch Adams is right and laughter really is medicine, what is the recommended daily dose?
Love, hugs and laughter,
PS. In the spirit of laughing at oneself, I found it mandatory to include a photo of me that does just that.
PPS. Off to review my gym program with Vince in 1 hour and not sure how much laughter will be in that. Tonight, I'll be seeing Stephen (uhem, Steve) perform live at Hamer Hall, Melbourne Arts Centre - can't wait!
PPPS. Why stop at a photo? Why don't we all have a laugh over my YouTube response to the famous Natalie Tyler Tran (Community Channel)'s "Your Soap Sucks" video. Yes, I know, I look ridiculous. That's my point.