An Appreciation For The Ridiculous

People have lost their sense of humor these days – have you noticed? They get upset because an election didn’t turn out the way they wanted or someone exhibited a personal flaw and they whine all about it. Humor just flies out the window.

When I grew up, humor was a standard issue, run of the mill, everyday occurrence. “You don’t have to be crazy to have fun,” my mother used to say, “but it helps.” She should know. She was bi-polar. In fact, many of the people in my family are certifiable Looney-Tunes. If not for humor and a cock-eyed look at the world, the few of us who weren’t already, would have rocketed down the short path to genuine insanity.

First, there was my grandmother. One day, as a teen, I complained about the sad state of my life and she said, “It’s all those scientists’ fault. They’re just waiting around and watching to see what you do with the problems they’ve given you. It’s all just a grand experiment.” “Never mind,” I thought, “maybe my life isn’t so bad after all.”

My dad left a lot to be desired in a parent, but he, too, had his moments. After coming home drunk one night, my dad woke up with a hangover. He showered and shaved but after splashing with the aftershave, he did a double-take in the mirror. “I’ve turned into a G-D Martian!” he bellowed. “No, dad,” my brother calmly replied, “I just put green food coloring in your aftershave.” Speechless, my dad managed, “Why?” Hey, who needs a reason?

When my mother suffered a heart attack and was comatose, all of us daughters were crying around her hospital bed. My daughter was there with her new baby. “I so wanted a four-generation picture with mom and the baby,” I sobbed. “Well,” said my littlest sis, carefully avoiding the tubes and stepping behind the head of the bed to lift mom up, “We can just prop her up like this and put the baby in her arms . . .” We began to guffaw.

Life just isn’t that bad. Even when it’s plain awful, things usually get better without your help. My poor brother has had major problems all his life. The last time he got out of jail, he went to see his former landlord and asked if he could make restitution for the apartment he trashed when he got depressed and took it out on his roommate and his room. The landlord shook his hand with unexpected fervor and said, “Your roommate was my ex-brother-in-law. I’ve been wanting to give that sorry SOB an a**kicking for years.” My brother protested, “But what about the damage to the apartment?” I was planning to renovate that old apartment,” he replied, “and this way the insurance paid for it. Hell, you don’t owe me a thing; in fact – I should probably take you to dinner!” Go figure.

My granddaughter, Angel, was savoring McDonald’s McNuggets when her grandfather informed her they come from chickens. (At least we think they do.) She looked at them, thought for a moment, wrinkled her little nose and said confused, “What?” He began to chuckle and then she put it all together as a preschooler would and said, “Oh I know, Poppa, like eggs! I like eggs.”

Her little sister Abby, on the other hand, is a little closer to the ground. She notices every insect that crosses her path. She drew a spider on her etch-a-sketch the other day and I had Grandpa put it on the computer. I printed it out and hung it over my monitor at work to remind me even a common insect can invoke a smile if you see it with the right kind of eyes.

So here it is so you can have a smile today, too. If you’re breathing, you can laugh. And for gosh sake, don’t lose your sense of humor! It might disappear for good.