Archive for October 25th, 2007

I find humor in the oddest places. In fact, I think humor finds me.

Like nervousness, humor sneaks up on me. It replaces my nervousness. I can list all the times where I have giggled uncontrollably in places where I should, instead, have been somber.

Jim’s parents’ Thanksgiving dinners. I’ve now gone to how many years of them? Almost twenty. I have giggled during Grace at every one except for one. The one I didn’t giggle at, I actually wanted to giggle. But I had a good reason not to.

I had had a miscarriage on about November 10. It was close enough to Thanksgiving that I told myself, Think of the miscarriage, think of the miscarriage. And it worked. That one Thanksgiving I did not dissolve into uncontrollable laughter while Jim’s father said Grace.

Nothing very funny about that.

There’s no way to get across how immature I can be. I have laughed so hard that I had to pretend I was crying at three different funerals. Well, one was technically a rosary mass. And I don’t know why.

Is laughter really the flip side of sorrow? Was I grieving something that I didn’t even realize I was grieving? I laughed so hard during John Dunne’s funeral that the whole pew rocked. Jim laughed, too, and Andrew, and the three of us tried to pretend we were sobbing. I don’t know. That doesn’t sound like grief.

John Dunne was a nice man. He died when his bicycle got hit by a car. We noticed the bike on the six-o’clock news. John was the only guy we knew who had a red ten-speed with a white seat. We called the news station and asked if they could tell us who the person was that got killed. No, we haven’t notified next of kin, the man on the phone told me. If I say a name, will you tell me whether it’s him or not, I asked. He agreed. I said John’s name. Yes, I’m sorry, he told me and we hung up.

I laughed in the zendo when L farted. After that I dreaded sitting in the zendo for fear of someone farting. I avoid yoga retreats for that reason. Surely people fart all the time when they’re bending their stomachs the way you do in yoga.

I dread having to go to either Mom’s or Dad’s funeral when they die, not only because I dread either dying. I don’t actually dread them dying. Mom and Dad are both peaceful about life and death. I just dread the funeral.

I will have to take something, an anti-anxiety pill, to make sure I don’t laugh all the way through it like I did when Aunt Barbara died. I sweated so hard trying not to laugh that I could feel the drops of sweat rolling down the sides of my body. I laughed because the priest was dramatic. When it came to the Communion, he boomed up there at the altar, THIS IS THE BODY OF CHRIST!

I find humor in America’s Funniest Videos. I laugh when the big woman boing-boing-boings on the trampoline and boings right off into the hedge. God, I can even feel a physical reaction to the pain she must feel, something that hits deep in my stomach, and still I laugh. I laugh until my girls yell at me, Mo-om!, that’s not funny!!

I laugh until Jim laughs at my laughing. I laugh in bed afterwards, thinking about my laughing, and sometimes I am laughing so hard I can’t even get out the words to say what it is I’m laughing about.

I find humor in the stupidest jokes. I have three from my “brown series,” one of which is, What is brown and floats in the toilet of the SS Enterprise? The Captain’s log.

I sometimes laugh so hard at that joke that I can’t even tell it. Funny, it doesn’t strike me as the least bit funny right now, and I feel as though I’m failing as a writer to convey how funny it is when I tell it.

Humor finds me, I tell you. It’s like a gremlin, creeping up on me when it should be sleeping. When more appropriate emotions, like sadness or empathy or disgust should instead be by my side. Inside of me.

Humor resides somewhere deep in my nerve system, and I no longer know if I should even call it “humor” at all.


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I find humor in ridiculous things like the Great Pumpkin Catapult or singing moldy oldies with Liz in the morning when I’m spooning French Roast into the Braun. I crack up after belting out dreadful tunes from the seventies, something by Gilbert O’Sullivan or Bread, or rocking out, jammin’ to Stevie Wonder in Happy Feet.

I smiled the whole way through a documentary Liz taped off PBS on Les Paul. The way he invented machines to overdub tapes, recorded in every room in his house with his wife, Mary Ford, and, of course, made guitar after guitar with big bodied, amplified sound. Without Les Paul there would be no rock and roll.

Did you know he’s a Midwesterner, born in Waukesha, Wisconsin; his last name was Polfuss before it was Paul. He’s worth millions, saved every guitar, every recording machine, every headset and microphone. The collection will be in the Smithsonian. He’s in his 90’s, still going strong. He loves to laugh and smile and play his guitar for audiences for a pittance. He loves life. That makes me laugh. I want to be near people who love life.

I don’t find humor in jokes. I never have. Riddles and rhymes that crack other people up are lost on me. I just don’t find jokes funny. Half the time they seem crazy or dumb to me. The other half, I probably don’t get it and stare at the person with my face curled up in a dumbfounded question mark. That’s me. The jokeless wonder. I think I still turned out okay.

I laugh out loud when Liz and I dance all crazy across the kitchen floor. This is a regular occurrence. So you can guess, I laugh a lot. I laugh when I play fetch with Mr. Stipeypants. I knew he was okay when I found his furry red ball, his trophy, in his food dish yesterday.

I smile when I watch the moon rise through the oaks. Liz called on the way to work to tell me the full moon tonight will be the closest to the Earth of any in 2007. The movement of planets, moons, and stars makes me smile, connects me to something way bigger than me. I like paying attention to when Mercury is in retrograde (right now). Retrograde, moving around the sun in an orbit opposite to earth. Don’t sign any contracts. Expect communication delays. Back up your computer.

A friend sent me an email a few days ago letting me know that mischievous Mercury, messenger of the god Jupiter, the smallest planet nearest the sun, was up to his old tricks, turning his face counterclockwise, contorting what normally travels with godspeed to a likely destination. I don’t laugh at myself enough. I work every day to let go.

When darkness falls, I’ll watch the Moon’s billowy skirt slide through crackling, clinging leaves along golden rayed bundles of clouds over the deck. I’ll wish I had a tripod to screw on the digital Canon body. I’ll sigh, decide to skip the photos, and enjoy the Earth in shadowy descent.

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – A LAUGHING MATTER

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