Rita Carrey graciously did the forward to my Christmas book, The Happy Squire: Christmas Stories to Encourage & Inspire, free download Dec 10-14 on Amazon (yes, that’s a promotional moment). Her motto is “Be open to opportunities,” and it has served her well (and really benefited me). In her forward she talks about this as well as what it was like growing up in the Carrey household. It’s a pretty incredible forward, which will hopefully one day lead to her having her own book because she has so many great stories and lessons to share.
I met Rita about fifteen years ago because of a tragic event. Essentially, a terrible thing ended up being a good thing for me – I feel a little bad writing that, but it’s true. It was at a funeral for my ex-girlfriend’s 32 year old uncle. To be clear, my ex-girlfriend was in her 20s. I wasn’t dating a child, which it sounds like when her uncle was so young. He was a “late” arrival, so he was much younger than his siblings, which added to the tragedy of the day. The whole funeral experience with visitations was pretty rough, but the funeral day itself was brutal, especially for me – that sounds bad but it’ll make sense. The day before the service, the widow asked me to wear a blue plaid shirt with rhinestone buttons to the funeral that she had bought for her deceased husband. She loved that shirt, but he hadn’t had a chance to wear it yet. Are you thinking that sounds like a terrible idea? You should. I did… because it was. But how do you tell that to the widow days after losing the love of her life. She was barely keeping it together, so you just do what you’re asked… unfortunately.
The next day I was at this very large church that was packed with people who were all very well dressed – you know, like you do for a funeral. I was not very well dressed. I was wearing jeans and a blue plaid shirt with rhinestone buttons and getting some very funny looks. Why? Because no one besides a select few knew why I was dressed like a cowboy to a very serious event. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed me, or my ex-girlfriend who was stuck standing beside this guy she appeared to have either thought his wardrobe choice was a good idea or she had no control of his decisions.
Fortunately, when the widow arrived it got funnier. Actually, it got a lot worse, but it’s funny now in that “Oh no, that happened?” kind of way. The widow showed up late to the service and the lobby was packed as a lot of people were waiting for her before going into the service, so there was a full audience for what was about to take place – perfect. Are you cringing because of knowing something bad is about to happen? You should. The lobby was packed, minus a small bubble of space around me as if everyone was purposely staying away from me – because they were. In a strange way it was kind of nice having the space. Everyone was there watching this poor widow walk from the parking lot towards the lobby. With one arm she was holding her mom for strength and with the other arm she carried her newborn baby… oh yeah, I forgot to add that terrible detail earlier. This was about as bad as it gets. Are you cringing yet? Both her and her mom were trying to hold back tears and not doing very well at it. As the widow entered the lobby it was like in the movies when people move and the man and woman see each other for the first time and fall in love except as the people parted, this broken woman saw me wearing the shirt she had bought her husband he would never get to wear because she was about to bury him. After that pause to stare at me and realize what she was seeing, she started weeping uncontrollably as she just then realized what a terrible idea it was to ask me to wear that shirt. I was quickly escorted out of the lobby where she couldn’t see me, which added to the “all eyes on me” situation. Of course, I didn’t have a change of clothes (like an idiot) and I couldn’t just leave, so I had to wear my coat in the service and switched from being dressed incredibly inappropriately with being dressed kind of inappropriately and being uncomfortably warm, which was increased by the guilt and awkwardness I was feeling for making the widow weep. The worst part was while sitting in the service I finally realized how I could’ve gotten out of wearing the shirt: “I’m sorry; I forgot to wear it because I’m a guy who’s irresponsible. I’ll tell you I’ll wear it at Christmas and then just happen to forget to wear it then, too.” That would’ve been nice to have thought of before creating a very memorable scene in a church full of people who went from questioning my wardrobe choice to hating me.
I don’t know about you, but for me when something bad happens, there’s always something else to make it worse. In this case, I had tried a new deodorant that day and it wasn’t working. When I say it wasn’t working I mean I was sweating and I knew it because of my smell – not so fresh. Now I had to wear my coat, not just to hide the shirt, but in hopes that it would contain my BO. Fortunately, no one wanted to hug the guy dressed like a cowboy who made a widow cry… not even my girlfriend.
And that’s not the only way the deodorant didn’t work. If you’re thinking, how else can deodorant not work? Before that day, I didn’t know either. When I started sweating, I quickly learned that I was allergic to it, so my armpits were on fire! That meant every couple of minutes I couldn’t help but start scratching my armpits like a starving raccoon trying to open a can of cookie dough. So there I was, wearing a coat over a plaid shirt that made the widow weep and every couple minutes I was scratching my armpits and fighting a look that said, “Oh yeah, that’s good.” I believe “creeper” is the term for that expression.
After getting through the funeral and burial services, I was back at the church and found out that Rita Carrey was there because her older sister, Pat, was quite close with the widow. After a day of feeling terrible, I thought to myself, “What do I have to lose?” so I went up to her and asked if she’d be the host of the comedy event I had booked later that year. Instead of being told a polite no like I expected, Rita said yes.
A few years later I ended up officiating her son’s wedding and then we started sharing project ideas off and on until this spring I mentioned my Christmas book and that I needed someone to do the forward. She happily agreed to do it. Why? Because she’s always open to opportunities – yea! In her forward, she mentions that every time’s she’s been open to opportunities, something great has come out of it, which you can read when you download the book for free Dec 10-14 (or buy it if you’re old like me and prefer the actual book).
Rita loves change and is always excited to see what life has in store for her – it’s the total opposite of me. Her openness helps her love life and be full of joy despite some of the craziest tragedies. Most would crumble from what she’s been though while she looks for the next great thing, which is really inspiring… and well suited for a book that’s “Christmas stories to encourage and inspire.” Her forward focuses on Christmas, but hopefully one day soon the rest of her story can be shared because she’s an incredible storyteller with a lot of great stories.
This week may you be open to opportunities… especially if it includes getting ready to download my Christmas book for free Dec 10-14 (yes, I’ll be promoting this to ad nauseam for the next couple weeks).
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people