Marlene Ratledge Buchanan

I am a nervous wreck! And I have to get an article in for my Hey Y’all column today. I had several other stories that I have been developing for this month’s Hey Y’all, but terror seems to be my theme of the day. I am writing to you on the morning of my book launch. With several people pushing from behind, I have written a book. Life is Hard. Soften it with Laughter.

I have stood in front of a gymnasium of hundreds of people and talked. NO sweat. I can do financial aid programs and graduation requirements without blinking an eye. Actually, I have been under general anesthesia in the recovery room and helped a nurse plan her ninth grader’s entire high school course schedule. Never remembered it, but, apparently, what she brought to show me was right on!

I have to stand in front of a room of people and talk today. I don’t know how many will be there. Those who are there may not see much of me. I am so nervous that I have to go to the bathroom every seven minutes and all I want is coffee, so I will be a trembling, dehydrated pulp with damp underpants in the front of the room.

Mark Pitt, one of students and now friend from Duluth High School days, is an Elvis tribute artist. If you get to see one of his shows, you will be amazed. I remembered him in my art classes humming. Mark told me one time that he could not eat before a show. He said he was too nervous to do anything but focus on the upcoming program. That must be where I am. Except, I can always eat!!! As nervous as I am today, it may be dangerous for our Horace, our resident sunroom lizard, to come sit on the computer table. I understand they are quite tasty with a little honey mustard. (Funny. In the background, Elvis is singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic/Dixie. Okay, this must be a message. I can do this.)

I was a school counselor and worked with families and teenagers for many years. Truth be told, I still do. People call me and we talk or meet to discuss issues. That is the purpose I was placed on this earth, I think. To listen and support people.

Snell and I have only one child who was deprived of oxygen during birth. And as many times as I have threatened to paste a stamp on his fanny and hang him off the mailbox, he is my hero. Most of the time. Sometimes he is the bain of my existence. But don’t anyone get between us!

Always Leave Them Laughing. George M. Cohen (1903)Always Leave Them Laughing. George M. Cohen (1903)A long time ago, I was shy. Then I figured out you just smile and speak first. That’s the secret. You say “Hey, how ya doing?” first. Spend a million dollars on therapy, but the secret is smile and speak first. And when you leave them, be sure they are smiling. Sometimes it is hard with what is going on in your life to smile, but you can do it. Throw the world off-guard with a smile, a compliment and a funny. George M. Cohen knew of what he wrote in 1903 — Always leave them Laughing.

Laughter, I think, is the most unifying, life-affirming thing we can do for ourselves and each other.

Well, I got to go make a decision on the four outfits I have chosen to wear today. I narrowed it down from 17. Y’all think I am having a meltdown? Yeah, I am. I just realized something. I will know all the people there. And I know their stories — good and bad. I can do this. Smile. “ Y’all. How doing?”

Better go pee one more time.

Always Leave Them Laughing
George M. Cohen (1903)
Always leave them laughing when you say goodbye.
Never linger long about, or else you’ll wear your welcome out.
When you meet a fellow with a tear-dimmed eye,
You can leave him laughing
if you try.
When he tells his troubles, interrupt him with a joke.
Tell him one he’s never heard, and he’ll declare that it’s a bird.
When he’s giggling good, you know That’s the time to turn and go
Always leave them laughing when you say goodbye