I have had a condition since childhood. It is a condition that afflicts only the male of the species. I first noticed it as a young lad in Monona, Wisconsin. One day my Aunt Karen Vick said, "Todd. you better close your barn door before your horse gets out." I was puzzled. Did we have a barn? I have never seen a horse in our suburban back yard. She could read my young bewilderment and explained that my zipper was down. My five year old eyes lit up as I realized what was going on. The barn door was my zipper; and the horse (more like pony in my case) was...well you know. That.
Over the next 45 years this condition would flare up, usually at the worst possible moments. Working math problems on the board would create snickers among my classmates as I realized my zipper was down and probably since I left home that morning. Through my teen years, I managed my condition somewhat better, save for the occasional miss. My most notable zipper malfunction was discovered while I was in my marching band uniform, during the halftime performance. On the field. Nowhere to run.
There is a name for this condition. It is called Dyszippera. It is especially common among men aged 50 and over. The most dramatic of my Dyszippera flare ups was while I was preaching at a funeral in Walterboro, SC. After my part was finished, another minister took the podium and asked us to bow in prayer. As I bowed my head I realized my barn door was WIDE open, and had been since the funeral procession. Fortunately, I was able to adjust while every one's heads were bowed and eyes were closed.
I admit there have been times when I would feel bad about myself. I mean, what kind of knucklehead forgets to zip up before a funeral? What was wrong with me?
After some intense research, I have discovered what is wrong with me: nothing.
Welcome to the club, all men, over 50, and crying for help.
I can accept that gravity takes over in some areas. There will be puffy eyes, hanging jowls, sagging love handles. But an open zipper? Surely not!
I know the act of zipping should be a simple, automatic task. But for some reason the ‘auto’ section of my brain — which controls the draft intake at my crotch — decided at age 5 to shut down.
It’s awkward, and downright embarrassing, putting you in strange positions at work, at home, on a plane, crossing the street, waiting on line at the supermarket. The list goes on and on.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the restroom at work to discover my zipper had been down since I left the house that day.
My biggest fear? My barn door is open and my baby mouse pokes out in front of my female co-workers.
What would my excuse be? Your honor, I’m 51 and there’s something wrong with my zipper? This problem could land you jail time, man!
And it's not just me! Dyszippera has afflicted many of us middle-aged men!
So what can we do? We could invent some sort of breeze alarm that goes off when the barn door creeks open. We could only buy button down slacks or sweat pants. Or, we could just stay indoors. Forever. And ever.
Or, we could just laugh at ourselves!
The Bible teaches in Proverbs 17:22 that a joyful heart is good medicine. I have struggled with severe depression and anxiety and have been on medications that help. What if I could just find more to laugh at in this crazy world? If I start with myself, there would be material for years!
Take heart, fellow Dyszippera strugglers. You are loved anyway. The cure, then, is laughter and love...of ourselves and others. There are far worse things than having an open barn door in an awkward place. Our esteem is not found in our zippers, my friends, but in our humanity. We are capable of amazing things, and yet we are also capable of forgetting to zip up before a funeral. That is funny stuff!
We must embrace and accept our mistakes, but we must also embrace and accept our wonderful potential to change the world! Zippers up or down! Face it, friend. You are amazing!
And God adores you, zippers up or down!