Last night at Bible study, I was in the throes of teaching a very involved lesson when I could not help but notice one of the camera men waving wildly to get my attention. Then, with great emphasis he pointed to his face with both index fingers. OK. I get it. Something was clearly wrong with my face but what, I asked myself. And what that hasn’t been wrong with it for the last 5 decades? I did first what you would have done. I checked my nose. “Oh, please Lord, not the nose.” Thank God, I didn’t feel any kind of foreign object (praise You, Lord, for manifold mercies!) and for a moment I felt relieved. Then the camera man waved and pointed again. Aerobically. I hoped against hope that he was having a breakdown of sorts. Was he caught in a loop perhaps? It happens. I tried to go on teaching. More waving. More pointing. Just the one guy. Every one else acted like all was well. No one stopped me to fix anything so I thought to myself, “What could be bad enough to keep waving at me about, but not bad enough to stop me?” Lipstick on my teeth, I decided, so I did the tongue over the teeth thing. Meanwhile I was trying to teach my class a very difficult literary structure in Esther. More waving.
It looked this time as if he were pointing to his cheeks, so I had my class look at a Scripture and I swept both sides of my face subtly with my hands. I thought maybe my lip plumper had shifted and caused swelling in my cheeks. More waving. Pointing. At least twenty minutes later during one of the most intense classes I’ve ever taught, I knew nothing else to do. I pulled out a Kleenex and wiped my whole face as if I were a sweaty boxer who’d just gone to his corner to spit the blood out of his mouth into a bucket. And finally the camera man’s arms dropped to his side and his body slumped over with what I realized later was great relief. And exhaustion no doubt.
I went home with much praise to our God for helping me teach a difficult lesson and helping my class to appear to get it. And maybe even enjoy it. I told my coworker who was driving me home about the camera man chaos and pondered with her what it was about. No idea. I told her I’d check. I got into the house, grabbed my cell phone and called my director on the phone. “Buddy,” I said, “What in the world was all the waving about with the camera man?” Then he said it. “Have you ever seen anyone with white spittle in the corner of his mouth?” My heart dropped into my feet. (I’m laughing so hard I can hardly type. Please laugh with me. Even at me. Go ahead and enjoy this at my expense.) “Yes,” I said timidly and feeling a little light headed. “You had that tonight.”
Spittle. I had that last night.
Only on one side, he assured me. On the opposite side from where my staff was sitting, explaining why they didn’t stop me and fix it. Which they would have. Because they’re women.
He said, “In all these years we’ve never had this with you. Are you doing something different or just feeling intense?” Actually, I was trying something different. I was trying spitting on myself during class. Not really. I was trying this brand new spray they make for singers and speakers that’s supposed to coat your throat and keep you from getting dry and coughing. I wish I’d read the warning label. I bet anything it says, “Can cause spittle.”
My director is hoping they can fix it in post-production so that those beyond my own patient, loving Houston class will not have to endure the pain of embarrassment for me. But he’s not sure they can.
I am writing to you because I told all this to AJ this morning. And having inherited my strange sense of humor, she said, “Mom, you HAVE to blog about it.” Particularly because of one thing I told her. I said, “Honey, it’s things like this that keep those who are closest to me and work with me from ever dreaming of being jealous of what I do.” My LPM staff shudders at the thought. The spittle nearly put them over the edge. This blog is for anyone out there still entertaining the least thought that you’d feel like a big shot if you did what speakers do. Or for anyone who, in your wildest imaginations, has ever been jealous of this job. Let me help you out here for a moment. Here are a few things I’ve been told through the years – and by those who LOVE ME VERY MUCH and who I LOVE LIKE CRAZY and who are just doing their jobs. And good ones at that. And need to continue to do them. But just so one or two of you can be free and get visions of glamour out of your head, here goes:
“You talk way too fast.”
“You move too much.”
“You jerk around too much. We can’t keep the camera on you.”
“You’ve gotten where you talk too loud but we’ve been discussing it and I think we’ve come up with why…”
“You talked WAY TOO LONG. How are we supposed to edit this?”
“I was so hoping that outfit would work on camera but it just didn’t. It kind of humped up in the back.”
“Remember to blot that sweat from time to time.”
“I think the redder lipstick makes your teeth look a tad whiter.”
“Were you tired in this session? You just didn’t seem to have the same energy. Are you getting enough sleep? Is there anything we can do?”
“Have you developed a back problem? You’ve kind of begun to hunch over when you teach.”
Then there was the new make-up artist hired recently for a product that was being done at a speaking event. She got me ready that morning then watched from the monitor as I taught the first session. She came running to me over the break like a bull out of the pen and headed straight for my nose and commenced to work on it for fifteen minutes. Shading. Powdering. Airbrushing. Sneezing. Then she said, “At least it’s not high def. That will help.”
And those are just the ones I can tell you.
He called it spittle.
PS. If anyone on any of my beloved film crews happens to read this entry, please laugh your heads off with me at all the awkward moments and painfully humbling circumstances God has given us through the years. They are GIFTS. Let’s embrace them. Celebrate with me that it hasn’t been easy. Comfortable. Or stale. We never have gotten the thing down. That’s a good thing. No a bad thing. We are utterly dependent on God to pull it off. Keep teaching me. Keep helping me. Keep humbling me. As one of you has often said, our critics are the guardians of our souls. Furthermore, it makes the nice things you say along the way and all your gracious kindnesses the stuff of blessing rather than ego. I need you badly and I love you madly. Don’t you dare let up. But don’t stop laughing either. It would be terminal to all of us.