Monday, December 20, 2010

What Are You Laughing At?

Men show their character in nothing more clearly than what they think laughable.

Goethe
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Two of us were sitting around the announcers' lounge one day waiting for our shifts to begin. We were visited by another announcer, a port time person who was brought in to cover someone's vacation. While there he told us about a good buddy of his who loved to make his pet cat jump forward and smack its nose against the wall. Then he laughed at the image. The other announcer said "I would say your buddy has a problem." I said "I agree."

The guy who told the story stopped laughing in surprise. Why didn't we think it was funny? It was suggested that his friend had a lot of character building to do. I noted, as I have often, if any one laughs at another creatures suffering, then he better be prepared to laugh at his own.

It does seem amazing what some people find funny. One year the Village Voice, in NYC, held a contest. They asked readers to send in the funniest photograph they could. The winning picture was of a man standing in his boat and peeing into the water. That's not funny, but peering around the corner of a large building, with it's big smile watching him was the huge Mickey Mouse balloon. The picture was very funny.

But the Voice printed an editorial about the contest saying they had received hundreds of photographs of little naked boys. What was so funny about a little boy's genitals was beyond their comprehension. I knew a woman who when she saw a baby boy or toddler who was naked would go into uncontrollable laughter. The people standing around thought she was crazy.

I'm not against laughter. I enjoy a good laugh. I enjoy the ironies and absurdities of life, the banana peels we all slip on now and then. It is healthy when people can laugh at themselves when the banana peel trips them up because it means they are not taking themselves too seriously.

I know I've told this story before but it illustrates what I'm saying and is also one reason for my own sense of humor. I was just 14 when my grandmother died. She knew she was about to die and asked my mother to come and get her. My grandmother was a product of the 19th Century and never went out unless she was fully dressed with fox stole and hat with a veil. When we approached the stairs leading up to our apartment she realized she couldn't climb them. We got a chair and put her in it. While she sat there primly with her hands in her lap we lifted her up step by step. I was wearing a tie and jacket. Every time I leaned over to grab the back of the chair my tie fell in front of her face. After a couple of times she got the giggles. When my grandmother laughed every one around would laugh.

I never saw her again after that day. She died a few days later. But the image of her having the strength of character to find something to laugh about at her own passing has never left me and it showed that there is an amusing side to everything.

DB - The Vagabond
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Weekend quiz, answers.

Comet's driver (5) Santa
Headless egos are helpers (5) elves
Precipitation sound to gentle creatures prancing (8) reindeer
Sooty entrance for bag man (7) chimney
Herb's digit up above (9) mistletoe
Receptacle for feet hanging (8) stocking
Charles' festival song (1, 9, 5) A Christmas Carol

DB
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3 comments:

Valerie said...

I remember you telling the story about your grandma. That is absolutely precious.

I don't understand some people's sense of humor either. America's Funniest Home Videos has been running for many, many years now and most of the videos show people falling down and smashing themselves, kids being hurt, bonking their heads... you just know some went to the emergency room and wonder if some died. Now HOW is that funny? Don't know?! How can we laugh at another's pain?!

This was a great entry, Dana. Have a super week! Val xo

Gerry said...

That is a great story about your Grandmother. A sense of humor like that is a rare gift, leading to a shared moment that will live in your memory until you die. We told a lot of jokes about my dad when we all gathered at his passing. We knew he was tough enough not to be offended. He died in the bath tub, and we joked he had always hated to take a bath (back when we had the Saturday night special once a week, and ranchers tended to get ripe during the week if they worked hard in the fields and sweated.) Mother would make this old batch hired man go to the bathroom to take a bath once a week, and we suspected he just sat by the tub and ran the water as he still dirtied the sheets like he hadn't bathed in a year. I kid you not!

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I laugh every day, and I hope that when I pass, there will be more laughter than tears.