Standing behind a woman at the church water fountain after she left the restroom was the beginning of my downward coil on two consecutive Sundays. It was painfully embarrassing when I saw the bottom of her dress tucked inside her white undies totally exposing her backside. I felt my face turn every shade of red, pink and yellow before I blurted, “Ma’am, check the back of your dress.” After I disclosed my observation I started to turn away. But before I could move, she jerked, hurled around, looked me dead in the eyes and reached to remove her dress from its lofty perch.

No sooner than I escaped that embarrassment, another woman exited the restroom and walked past me dragging a 15’ string of toilet paper below her skirt. My good intentions told me to help, but my mind said don’t. So, being the Good Samaritan that I was, I closed my eyes and ran squarely into the wall. By the time I gathered my wits and collected my eye glasses from the floor, she was halfway down the hall. Thankfully, another woman saw the problem, stepped on the trailing tissue, and started gathering it up. During this second unfortunate Sunday incident, the best man for the job was a woman.

I fostered cold feet and I was guilt-ridden that I didn’t help, so with my gallantry temporarily defeated, I shuffled off to Sunday school. I never saw the woman from the water fountain again, but the woman who sported the trail of toilet paper soon became my Sunday school teacher. I doubt she ever connected me with her trail of tears, but it was an unspeakable picture that I visualized every Sunday for several years.

The following Sunday also offered an unfortunate embarrassment, but it didn’t involve toilet paper or white undies. I led a camp-meeting style singing in the church sanctuary in front of 500 people. Afterward, I led singing in my Sunday school class. When the bell rang for dismissal, I stopped by the restroom and realized that I hadn’t zipped my pants before leaving home that morning. I was mortified, but I assumed that I had gotten away with it because no one giggled, sniggered, snorted or laughed.

Human senses are the foundation of communication. In the case of the two women, I used the sense of sight. In my case, I visibly failed to use the sense of touch.

Experts say that people should practice their observation skills daily. For example, while walking on a sidewalk, they could use their sense of sight to see murals on buildings or read the wording on doors. To that end, perhaps people should exercise all their senses daily. They could use their sense of smell to detect perfumes or restaurant aromas, or their sense of hearing to notice the sound of music, birds, traffic or conversation.

About 20 years ago I attended a three-month long class with 259 classmates. I accomplished a personal goal of learning the first name of all 259 fellow students in about three weeks. To succeed, I used my sense of sight to read their name tags and my sense of hearing to listen as I greeted them each day. One week after graduation I probably didn’t remember 20 names because my senses must have taken leave. Today, however, they seem to be on permanent vacation.

One part of life is about taking full advantage of the sense of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. These five senses provide the ability to understand and learn things, happenings, feelings, and facts about the world. They can broaden horizons, but when they aren’t used or when they’re used improperly, they can lead to poor motor skills, fear, anger and the loss of pleasure. With age, they aren’t as sharp, lifestyles can change, and people may have trouble connecting, enjoying events, and interacting with others. Before life permanently slams the door, unlock the world and make sense of your senses.

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Charlie Sewell lives in Cherokee County. His book “I’d Rather You Call Me Charlie: Reminiscences Filled With Twists of Devilment, Devotion and A Little Danger” is available on Amazon. Email him at retiredchiefsewell@gmail.com.

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