The people in my family have been long time watcher’s of people, at least those family members who hail from my mother’s side of the family. Not only do they watch people, but they are very quick-witted, capable of finding something hilarious in the most mundane of actions and behaviors. Some of the reason is probably undoubtedly genetics, but another part most likely stems from the fact that there were a total of seven children, including Mom.
The eldest was 17 years older than the baby. By the time the baby was starting to walk, the eldest was married and getting ready to start her own family. As a result of this large, burgeoning family, there was always a large group of people gathered together any day of the week, while I was growing up. My mother and her younger brothers and sisters were some very funny people, given to doing crazy things. There always seemed to be raucous laughter erupting even at times when no one would expect laughter. They were so outrageous, sometimes my grandmother, their mother, refused to be seen with them in public. While no one behaved in a rude or crude manner, they never bothered to worry who might be witness to their silliness.
Growing up in that kind of atmosphere was not easy. Nothing was sacred to these people when they were angling for a laugh. My older brother was considered hilarious, and is to this day. Very quick-witted, able to see humor in just about anything. It might be a real tragedy to the poor slob experiencing it, but he can come up with some comment that will send everyone into hysterics. My younger brother was funny in a simpleton way. He never worried what anyone thought of his antics, so the threat of someone catching him looking stupid meant nothing to him. I have to admit, he was very funny in that Milton Berle sort of way.
They all embarrassed me to tears with their silly, corny, need to be entertained by one another. Looking back, I realize that was probably why I seemed to be on the receiving end of their humor. I made a great target. Now that I’m so much older, I find myself really laughing at some of the things they said and did. And somehow over the years, I’ve morphed into one of them.
I don’t really know when or how it happened, but it wasn’t something I was striving to achieve. It was an accident. It only happens at certain times, usually when someone or something irritates me beyond my endurance. It’s at those times my comedic ways just burst forth unbidden. I can rattle off a whole long string of epithets without pausing for a breath. As I go stomping to fix whatever problem was brought about by some moron, I suddenly become aware of the shrieks of laughter bouncing off the walls.
The first time it happened, I stopped and looked around in irritation. “What?” I demanded, “Don’t laugh. It’s not funny. I’m serious!”
It was my Nana who couldn’t stop laughing at me. I would have understood if she was from my mother’s side of the family, but she was my Dad’s mother. “Oh, Terri,” she gasped, “You’re so funny.” She wiped the tears from her eyes, trying to sober up.
“I’m not funny, I’m serious!” I insisted.
That only made her start laughing all over again. “That’s why it’s so funny,” she sputtered between har-hars. “You say things in the funniest ways.”
I didn’t get it. I was not being funny. I was being serious, and everyone thought it was hilarious. The more people told me I was funny when I was mad, the less I got it.
Bill was a guy I had dated as a teenager. I dated him again, briefly, after my divorce many years later. It didn’t work out because we realized we were too good as friends. It was almost like dating a sibling. Most of our time was spent laughing, rather than attempting to be romantic. But I was very protective of him. He had a really bad habit of getting mixed up with the wrong kind of women. And besides, he was really good looking and I couldn’t understand what had happened to his good taste.
One day he showed up with a woman I had known from high school. I was shocked. She was sure not someone I would have expected to ever see him wasting his time on. I tried talking to him calmly, warning him of what he was getting himself in for. Then he said something so stupid, my jaw dropped. What? He couldn’t possibly be saying this. He thought she was …. cute? Yuck, yuck, yuck.
This woman had no brains, no drive to earn a living, no drive to stay sober, and on top of everything else, she didn’t have one redeeming little bit of cuteness about her. It was so bad, I couldn’t stand to see her smile. It gave me the creeps. She had these tiny, squared off teeth, all of the same size and shape, that created a straight line. It was like watching Flipper smile. Every time she showed her teeth I expected to see her head start to bob back as she emitted the eheheheheheheh porpoise sound. Creepy.
I finally told him what I thought of her looks. He laughed at me, telling me I was funny because, according to him, I always see people as characters, rather than people. Not true at all. I just wanted to know…if he really wanted a pet, why didn’t he just buy a goldfish?
I didn’t get how me being mad was something for everyone to laugh at. But it was…for years….then one day I had the pleasure of seeing my, now grown up daughter, lose her mind at something her husband was doing.
It was the holidays. My daughter and her husband, in addition to their two baby girls, were visiting. Both of my sons were home, too. We were all sitting at the table playing the TV Guide game. It was my son-in-law’s turn to answer a question. All evening, we had exercised patience with his habit of taking FOREVER to answer a question. Whenever he had to come up with an answer, he would frown as though deep in thought, staring at the ceiling like the answer would appear there. Then he would look down at the table in front of him, thoughtfully rubbing his chin. Sometimes his hand would rub across his brow, sweep over his eyes, or massage his neck. Getting an answer out of him was very painful for the rest of us.
“Kris!” Lindsay yelled in exasperation. The rest of us spun around to look at her, shocked by her loud angry voice. She immediately began rubbing her face, and neck, sliding her hands down over her body in an exaggerated imitation of a well known pop singer. “Stop it!” she demanded, still obviously irritated. “You’re not f*cking Prince, you know.”
The rest of us howled with laughter, including her husband. My youngest son fell off his chair, he was laughing so hard. We laughed so hard and long that my stomach was starting to hurt. The annoyed expression on her face melted to puzzlement as she looked around at the rest of us losing our minds.
“What???” she demanded, getting annoyed again. “It’s not funny! I’m serious!”
It was my turn to fall off my chair. Okay, okay….I GET IT!
- The Health Benefits of Laughter (everydayhealth.com)
- The benefits of humor. (justonecoolblog.wordpress.com)
- Your Kid is Not Funny (dadandburied.com)
- We’re THIS Funny (itsmommyjuice.com)