November 3rd, 2004

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Another Autobiography Excerpt, by popular undemand...

Possibly Chapter Three, "Just for Laughs"

Every once in a while, my best friend Michelle and I will get in a crowded elevator, and she'll whisper, "Melissa, I see dead people." If I can keep a straight face, I'll try and say, "Really, when?" And if she can keep a straight face, she'll whisper, loudly, "All the time." Usually, I dissolve into giggles first. I can't help it. Cause no matter how often we do this routine, it's always funny.

Michelle has great comic timing. She knows exactly when to bounce a milk carton off someone's head. My own timing is a little suspect. I'm pretty good with outright sarcasism and skeptical insight, but natural comic timing escapes me. I'm too often a beat behind.

I do, however, have my moments. Usually, the times when I'm funny, it's completely unitentional. At Amy's wedding back in March I couldn't stop giggling. It's a problem. I like to laugh. Unfortunately, I was wearing a dress that showed off my considerable assests, which, frankly, love to laugh as well. And the effect of all that laughter was that my boobs were jiggling like jello in an earthquake. Which made one of the other bridesmaids crack up. And that made me crack up because I knew why she was laughing. I had been so concerned about looking like a personified mini-van in the Latte colored dress, I'd completely ignored the more obvious problem of considerable cleavage let loose on the world.

I'm sure one day Amy will forgive me for practically spilling out of the dress that looked so elegant on everyone else. And since she ended up smacking me upside the head with the bouquet, I guess we're about even.

My sister and brother-in-law can probably tell you in exacting details about the stupid things I did as a teenager that also fall into the catagory of unintentionally funny. For instance, the time when I adopted what can only be described as "The Pilgrim Look." By this I mean I wore a lot of sweaters and sweatshirts with a white button down underneath, showing considerable cuff and collar. Yes, I did look as moronic as it sounds. In person, I will probably deny that it was ever that bad. However, there are pictures showing me rocking a teal Champion sweatshirt, hugh white shirt collor sticking out of the neck and the sleeves exposed half way up to my elbows. Top that with too small for me jeans, and a page-boy haircut, and coke-bottle thick wire-frame glasses, and you've got the measure of it. Let's not even get into the too much flannel too late in the 90s look that came later on.

Sadly, it hasn't just been crimes of fashion that have doomed me.

I don't drink often. Considering the story I am about to tell you, this is probably a smart move. The last time I was properly drunk, about three years ago, I thought I had suddenly developed athletic prowess. Seriously. I have this vague memory of being outside one of the bars I visited with my cousins, trying to ballet-jump my way toward the car, asking my cousin-in-law if he thought I could fly. Imagine one of those hippos from a Disney cartoon, the ones with the pink tu-tus, flying through the air, and then super-impose my face over one of them. This is not my only forray into comic drunkeness. And amittedly, while I don't have as many stories as some, I've made the most of the few times I've had. I'll end the drunken debauchery portion of this chapter with one more thought: If you think you're too drunk to walk and want to sit down, don't sit in a puddle. Just trust me on this one.

In much more G-rated territory, there are many stories to choose from. Sometime in the strange summer that was my time between high school and college I was flirting with my own brand of pitiful philosophy. I have these tape recordings of me emoting about "the enormity of how my life is about to change" and how I'm sure no one in the world understands me. Now add this to the mix of bad hair, terrible glasses, and too small jeans, and put me on a bike. Yes, that's a frightening picture, but I spent a lot of time on my bike that summer, riding around with my friend Nikki, thinking my deep thoughts.

And now, see me fall off the bike.

Nikki and I are speeding downhill, on a quest to find the yardsale where the day before I had purchased a vintage "Welcome Back Kotter" t-shirt tranfer. (I know, why did I spend money on that?) Nikki was determined to get her hands on one too. We're racing, she's about 20 feet in front of me, when the tire of the bike I'm riding hits gravel, and I go skidding off. I'm pretty sure I bounced (Admitt it, you too think watching someone fall is kind of funny). Anyway, there I am on the ground, howling with pain. And Nikki freaks, jumps off her bike, and and goes running to the nearest house, screaming about calling 911.

So let's recap the scene, me, in the middle of the street, rolling around, bleeding from the head. Nikki, frantically knocking on doors. I was totally sure I had sustained massive head-trauma. I start crying, because, well, how the could world be robbed of my genius so young? I was going to change the world with my philosophies, and there I was dying young after a tragic biking accident.

Finally, someone in one of the houses answers, takes a look at me in the street, hands Nikki a washcloth so I can wipe the blood out of my face, and shuts the door. I was fine. I had a small, small scrape above my eye.

Again, not intentionally funny. I did think I was dying, at least short term. But in rhetrospect, I just see myself flying off that bike in my terrible clothes, bouncing down the hill. And then the rolling around, screaming about dying young. And I can't help but laugh at the picture. Yeah, I'm cool.

I've got 26 years worth of these stories. So I could go on, but for now I'll stop. After all, I've got an entire Autobiography to write.
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