Talk About a Slip Up – Better Make That Down!
Okay, so before I get to my story of what happened to me during a presentation this last week at a conference, I must back up and tell the story of my husband’s grandmother Nonnie.
Nonnie was a dear woman. Truly she was a woman who chose to live joyfully through all of life’s challenges, struggles, and trials. Nonnie chose wisely. She chose God, she chose peace, she chose joy.
She loved to tell stories when we would get together for a visit. One of her favorites was the time the elastic on her slip gave out. First I probably need to make sure we all know what I am talking about. I hope that you know what a slip is. I have noticed that they are not being worn very often these days, which is unfortunate. Anyway, for the purpose of review, a slip is an undergarment worn principally for modesty’s sake, so that no one can see through a skirt or dress. Like I said, slip sales are down.
Moving on, Nonnie was all dressed for that most important day of the week. She was in her Sunday best, walking in the church to worship God one Sunday morning. As she walked down the center aisle to find her regular seat, she noticed a friend and stopped to visit for a moment. It was during this interchange that she discovered her slip was not where it ought to be. Her slip, she found, was slipping. Already it had fallen below its intended station for maximum coverage and minimum distraction. The coverage and distraction locations were actually trading places.
All of this became apparent to Nonnie mid-conversation. Her mind was going back and forth between the conversation and the situation. Nonnie was a talker, and she was not going to abandon a conversation just because her slip was not cooperating. I do wish I had a transcript of that dialogue. When did she make her decision to act upon the impending catastrophe? She was center stage, in the middle of a casual chat with church about to begin, and her slip was letting her down — quickly.
Without skipping a syllable, without warning her friend, without the slightest blush or acknowledgement of even the possibility of embarrassment, standing center aisle, Nonnie allowed her slip to fall to her ankles. And as she continued to converse with her friend, she simply stepped out of the slip circle, she bent down, picked it up, folded it, and placed it into her purse. She kept her cool, never even apologizing, never mentioning, never a moment of self-consciousness. All was done. It wasn’t worth discussing at the moment, but it sure makes for a good story and it always made her smile to share it.
This last weekend, almost the exact same thing happened to me. I was speaking to an audience at a conference when I discovered that my slip wasn’t where it was suppose to be. It was a complicated moment. My slip was falling down and everyone was looking at me. I had to quickly access the circumstance. Here is what I knew: There were about 50 of us in a small space. There were mainly moms, but also fathers and some kids. The lights were dim so that they could see my Power Point presentation. And upon looking down, I noticed that my slip was visible below my skirt. Obviously it was decision time. Should I have them discuss some question among themselves and excuse myself? Should I just make a joke about it? Should I ask everyone to just close his or her eyes while I made an adjustment? Should I ignore it and passively let it do whatever it was going to do, hoping for the best? Should I be proactive and expedite the retreat of my slip by taking it off?
What would you do?
In a spit-second decision, I chose the last option. I do not know where I was in my outline, but we were too early in the hour to just let the slip dominate my thoughts. I had to do something. Since my slip was already dragging the floor, my maxi skirt hid it pretty well. I stepped behind the table, which held my computer, stepped on the edge of my slip, and pulled it completely down leaving a slip circle on the floor behind the table. Now I could finish my presentation.
When I was done, some attendees came up to talk with me, and there behind the table on the floor was my slip. I had to laugh when it was discovered. “It wasn’t cooperating with me, so I had to take it off,” I explained. Then I pushed it on under the table out of the way of our discussion.
So here’s what I learned. This was a minor thing that needed to stay a minor thing. When things which are intended to help us begin to hinder us, we need to make some decisions about how to go forward. The defective slip did not need to become the most memorable part of the conference for those in my workshop. In such instances, it is better to act proactively instead of passively. Most slip ups — or downs in this case — are best dealt with by doing what needs to be done and moving forward. No discussion was necessary as there will be opportunities to tell the story later. It will make the teller smile and the listener laugh. But at the time, all that could be done was to discretely step away from the slip!