Last week I was speaking to about 40 college students – future teachers – on the topics of writing, student engagement, and the realities of the teaching profession. It was a group of about 35 women and 5 men – not surprising given the teaching profession.
A couple years ago, Charlie’s current fourth grade teacher was in the same class when I spoke.
About an hour into my talk, I happened to look down and saw that my fly was open.
Really open. As open as the zipper on a pair of jeans can be.
It wasn’t terribly surprising. It was only the second time I’ve worn pants since October. Recovery from the surgery and some unexpected complications with a nerve running down my leg have required me to wear sweatpants every day since the surgery. The doctor wants as little pressure on my hips (and thus the nerve) as possible.
On this particular day, given that I was speaking to college students, I decided to forgo sweatpants and wear jeans. I know it doesn’t sound like much of an upgrade in terms of wardrobe, but when you’ve spent 60 consecutive days in sweatpants, a pair of jeans can feel like a three piece suit.
So I had either forgotten to zip up the jeans when I put them on, or more likely, I had leaned back on a table and stuffed my hands in the pockets, pulling open a not-entirely-fastened zipper.
When I noticed the downed zipper, I looked up, smiled, and said, “Oh, look. My fly is down.”
People in the room laughed as I yanked it back up. “Sorry,” I said. “I haven’t worn pants in two months. I guess I forgot how.”
Then I proceeded on with my talk.
I told a friend about the incident the next day. “Were you mortified?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “I was happy it happened. I made them laugh. Twice. A laugh is a precious thing.”
I was serious. Walking around (or perching yourself in front of the class of college students) with your fly open could could happen to anyone. In fact, it does happen to everyone from time to time. No reason to be mortified for something that is fairly commonplace in this world and absent any malice. And it really did garner a laugh, which is huge.
My opened zipper brought a speckle of joy to the world. It made a collective group of people laugh. Not the zipper, exactly, but my direct, unassuming response to it. I was the straight man to my opened zipper’s funny man.
My zipper and I were a comedy team of sorts for the moment.
Honestly, I hope it happens again when I return to that class next year.
Creating laughter is the best, even if it’s at your own expense.