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We All Fall Down

For two years, I was proud to be a contributor at A Deeper Story. I wrote alongside many amazing authors, writers, and poets, often wondering how on earth I got so lucky. I often felt unworthy. They were the Alice Coopers to my Wayne.

Nish Wiseth, the founder and chief editor, has decided the time has come to move on, so she is closing up shop. I’ve decided to re-post my work from there here. Every Saturday, a new-to-Lifenut post I wrote for A Deeper Story will appear here (with Nish’s blessing and encouragement). These posts often focus on issues of faith, culture, church, and how they intersect through story. I am very fond of these posts and don’t want them disappearing. Folding them into Lifenut is like folding chocolate chips into cookie dough.


We All Fall Down
(originally published March 13, 2013)

“What’s a vasectomy?”

My kids were watching a very popular ABC TV show about America and its funny videos shot in homes. You know the show. Good parents don’t let their kids watch it because it’s tasteless and it’s mean to laugh at the misfortunes of others. I choose to look at it as an educational tool: See kids? This is why you don’t drunkenly dance on tables with a sparkler between your teeth. That is why you don’t jump from a roof to a trampoline to a skateboard while wearing a bikini.

The question-inspiring video featured a little girl saying the word vasectomy. It got big laughs from the audience because of the context. She was asked what her daddy wanted for Christmas. As soon as I heard the word, I knew what was coming. “Ask your dad?” poised on the tip of my tongue. It leapt out of my mouth and jumped from roof to trampoline to skateboard to a dozen little ears.

My husband volleyed the question away with a surprised snort. One of our boys said, “Fine! I’ll look it up in the dictionary!” We told him that was an excellent idea. Research makes my heart soar.

During the next commercial break, he retrieved our giant hardback Webster’s and the kids gathered ’round the flipping pages. Another boy said, “I hope it’s not outdated!” The idea made me laugh. They consulted each other on spelling. Was the first letter a “V” or “F?” After pecking around, it was found. Then a groan—but not for the definition. Their quest was not over.

Excision? Vas deferens? They had to define the definition. More hunting and more pecking until they cobbled together the answer, voicing it with an “Oh…” They regarded each other nervously, giggling, maybe wishing they hadn’t bothered following through with the threat to do unassigned homework. The dictionary was closed. The show’s theme music lured them back to snippets of people falling. So many boneheads, jokers, prankers, clumsy puppies, fainting grooms, fail fail fail fail fail.



I recalled looking up the word “casbah” in elementary school because The Clash wanted to rock one. I had the 45 record and needed to know what exactly I was singing about while I danced around my bedroom. I looked up “plunder” from Men At Work’s Down Under for the same reason. Women glow. Men plunder. Jerks! “Africa” made me keenly curious about geography. Rising like Olympus above the Serengeti. Intellectual curiosity is no small thing, especially when pop culture is the bottle rocket zeroing in on the crotch. Keep those cameras rolling, America! There is so much to learn.

I can hide my children from funny videos. I can hide funny videos from my children.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. ~Phillippians 4:8, The Message

I fail. They surprise me. I praise their ingenuity and intelligence. I praise their desire for truth and authenticity, their natural hunger to learn—even a dumb word plucked out of a dumb show. There is grace in the knowledge that at my most human and disastrous moments there is no camera trained at me, rolling.

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