Topless Pork Chop Day

An Annual Celebration for All

Seven years ago, on November 5th, a friend of a friend decided to schadenfreude herself on Facebook. And every year I’m reminded of the cathartic joy of laughing at ourselves and the unexpected bonding that happens when we share our most vulnerable authentic selves with others. This brief anecdote taught me the importance of adapting, prioritizing and overcoming embarrassment by owning it.

Now a tenure-track writing professor, seven years ago she was a graduate teaching fellow pulling long hours at Prince Lucien Campbell Hall. The University of Oregon’s tallest building, always called PLC, is also the ugliest building on campus.

“Colored tile attempts to harmonize the structure with surrounding older buildings on the Memorial Quadrangle (the Museum, Knight Library, Chapman Hall, Condon Hall).”

It does not.

But deep inside the eyesore highrise, a hardworking woman, a single mother of three pursuing her MFA, was finally able to reheat her leftovers and enjoy last night’s pork chop for lunch.

But alas, no steak knives in the break room. No matter, she thought. She had her office window blocked and could just close the door and eat it with her hands. Which she did until the juice started to threaten her favorite sweater. No matter, she thought. I’ll just take it off. So she did. And so, topless, she continued to eat her pork chop with her bare hands. And then her officemate walked in.

The officemate retired the following quarter.

This is not a call to overshare every embarrassment or indignity in humiliating detail. Not all stories need to be broadcast across each of your concentric social circles. In this case, I find it delightful that she chose to post about it on Facebook.

We each get to decide how far and wide to open the book of our own lives. Some stories are only for our innermost circle. But the ridiculousness of our most unexpected stories can be a gift to whomever we choose to share them with. And that’s beautiful. Outrageousness can actually be a hilarious antidote to the outrage fatigue we’re all suffering from.

To salute her selflessness and celebrate even those who just cracked a smile when they read her annual post I made her this card and shared it on this year’s anniversary post.

May we all delight in our unexpected missteps as hilariously as one humble half-naked woman did seven years ago. As the Marines say: Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.

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