Friends were coming over for a walk in the woods followed by drinks and dinner. It was a wintry afternoon, the air sparkled and the sun was due to set noticeably early. How delightful it would be to return from our ramble and sit in front of the fireplace with a glass of sherry. Except we had no sherry.
I dashed out – as much as someone with a movement disorder dashes – to the corner store before our guests arrived. The woman behind the register greeted me with a thick accent, “How are d’you?”
“Fine, thank you,” I answered and shuffled down an aisle. I felt her eyes on me, but I was one of only two customers. And my gait isn’t exactly normal.
“How are d’you?” she asked again as I set the blue bottle on the counter.
Must not have understood me the first time, I figured, so I answered again, raising my voice a touch and a speaking more slowly. “Fine, thank you.” I added a smile for emphasis.
She watched me reach into my purse but didn’t take the twenty my fingers had finally managed to pull out. A man – her husband? – stepped up beside her. “How are d’you?” he asked with an equally thick accent “D’you are okay?”
It dawned on me that my body language was speaking to them far more loudly than my words. They didn’t want to sell alcohol to a drunk. I felt my chest tense up, my slight tremor become a full-out shake. How dare they spoke one side of my brain; they’re afraid of losing their license – possibly their livelihood, said the other.
“I’m okay.” I pointed to my leg. “I limp.” I wasn’t about to get into the stiffness, the imbalance. Meanwhile, the other customer paid for his six-pack and left.
They took my money. And a little pride, given how I was sobbing when I got back home. I slammed the bottle onto the table and vowed not to step foot in that place again. Not ever. Thought I was drunk. I didn’t smell, didn’t slur. I’d combed my hair. My socks matched. Never again.
After several minutes of muttering and sniffling, I began to notice all the places in my body the wallowing was settling in. My throat was constricted, my whole face furrowed, my hands clenched. Breathing into those spaces, I wanted to let it go, but the exhales weren’t taking much with them. Let it go, I coaxed. With ease, grace. At least try it with a sense of humor.
Ha, I could say. Ha, ha. Ho, ho, sherry-o. I could fake a few more ha, ha, hos until a smile came over me, over my face; until my whole body started to smile. I could leap up and sing into the bottle the Four Seasons’ She-e-e-e-e-ery baby, sherry baby.
Still holding the blue microphone, I could be a stand-up comic.
How are d’you?
I could giggle and chortle and snort, taking in all that good prana, working my abs, releasing tension. Laughter yoga.
With laughter yoga in mind, the story could come out differently: So, have you heard the one about a gimp who walks into a liquor store . . .