I grew up in a good, Christian home in Oklahoma.
My mother may have been raised on a farm in Iowa, but that didn’t mean she was without manners. Her mother instilled all the necessary tools for being “lady-like” which were then passed on to me.
Ladies don’t fart.
Ladies don’t burp.
Ladies don’t talk or laugh too loud.
Ladies are polite.
Ladies sit with their legs closed.
Ladies do not engage in distasteful conversation.
Ladies do not curse.
Quite frankly, “ladies” sounded pretty boring to me.
I did my best, as a child, to adhere to lady-like ideals.
When seated, I twisted my legs so one knee landed on top of the other to keep from sitting in an un-lady-like manner with my knees splayed open.
I learned to recycle a fart within my body so it didn’t escape and make an un-lady-like sound. Or worse, an un-lady-like smell.
I learned to purse my lips together and fill my mouth with burp air without giving myself away so I didn’t offend anyone with my un-lady-like ways.
I never did learn to use my “inside voice”. In elementary school, I always got low marks for “talks at proper time”.
I guess one can only be so lady-like at any given time.
As I got older and developed my wit and sense of humor, it got harder to adhere to the “ladies do not engage in distasteful conversation” tool.
Making people laugh is one of my favorite things. Catching people off-guard with comedy is one of the most satisfying feelings. Not much is funny or surprising about super-safe topics discussed in a lady-like manner.
I began to play around with “crossing the line”.
This requires a keen sense of connection with the audience.
It’s like walking someone to the edge of a cliff, giving them a gentle nudge that knocks them off balance, and then grabbing their arm and pulling them to safety at the exact moment they are sure they have reached the point of no return.
The experience has an air of daring risk, but the rush of adrenaline that comes when they realize they came that close to death and survived can’t be beat.
In college, my friend, Lindsay, gave me the nickname “Too Far Taylor”.
Taylor being my maiden name.
As thrilling as it is to read the crowd and take them right to the edge, it’s also exhilarating to step over the line and earn a nickname.
Humor that garners such a prize title often comes from the juxtaposition of people’s assumptions born out of my lady-like tools and the reality of just how far I will go.
I am a domesticated animal. I don’t cross the line in all conversations. I have a deep sense of care and sensitivity for the feelings of others. I can sit comfortably in an emotional dialogue with no thought of comedy.
But I can also be lured to the edge and encouraged to grand jeté right over the line when the mood is right.
I once heard someone describe themselves as an equal-opportunity offender. I appreciated that description. I took it to mean they don’t take themselves or any one thing too seriously and can have a sense of humor about everything.
When I met my husband, Judah, in 2002, we were working as performers at a theme park in Georgia.
I was two years out from a painful divorce and not looking for love. When out for dinner with the cast one night, I got some Alfredo sauce on my upper lip.
I looked at Judah, who happened to be sitting near me, and said, “I swear Mom, I only kissed him.”
He almost choked on the saliva in his mouth.
If Lindsay had been there, she would have chimed in with a “Too Far Taylor”.
A few months ago, I was volunteering with two women in their seventies. I have a pre-existing relationship with them, so they weren’t new recruits to me and my humor.
We had a box of pool noodles we needed to cut down for later use. I was put in charge of cutting the noodles.
Pool noodles are those long, round foam things you can use to help you float in the pool.
They are long.
So I stuck one between my legs, imagining what men might do if they were in my unique position.
I swung my noodle around with gusto, egged on by laughter as I walked these women to the edge.
I kept it clean.
As clean as one can be with a pool noodle between her legs.
The looks on these ladies’ faces were priceless. It was as if I was seeing their childhood selves. They were light-hearted and carefree. It was beautiful to witness.
Why would I want to stay in the lady-like box and miss out on this gold?
I felt the excitement rise within me to push my limits.
I played it cool.
I walked the fine line between “Too Far Taylor” and the cliff’s edge. It took some self-control to keep my grand jeté in check.
I am a domesticated animal, after all. But it can still feel good to let loose in the wild.