Ever since I was a kid, I have tried my best to approach life with a sense of humor. There are very few things in life I can think of that are enjoyable than laughter. The Bible says: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Jerry Clower once said: “The only place where there is no laughter is Hell. I’ve made arrangements to miss Hell”. I could go on and on listing people on TV or radio or in print that have made me laugh: Douglas Adams, Jack Benny, Lewis Grizzard, Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis… (like I said, I could go on and on). Almost as good as laughing is seeing someone else laugh. I went to see a movie with my sons last summer for Father’s Day. The movie was funny. The best part however, was sitting between my 15 and 20 year old sons, turning my head left to right as if I was watching a tennis match, watching them both laugh so hard they could barely breathe. Don’t even get me started on babies. My friends have a 6 month old girl. She is living proof that a college educated man will turn in to a babbling chimp all in an effort to make a baby laugh.
I attribute a large part of this bent for humor to my Dad. My Dad can tell you the most absurd thing with the straightest face. He had one poor woman convinced that you if you put food in the microwave and set it to negative numbers, the food would freeze. Ironically enough, my Dad is probably the worst poker player on two legs. He can spin yarns of hilarious pranks and practical jokes (many of which he played on his wife and kids). Having said all that, seeing my Dad laugh is downright infectious.
This has lead to some very interesting lessons in boundaries over the years. Once, some friends and I were visiting at a girl’s house. She had used the fact that her parents were not home as an opportunity to get a little tipsy. Therefore, my friends and I did what any young man in our position would do. We tilted EVERYTHING in her living room: pictures, a table, a stereo console. We tilted everything in the same direction. We then stood in front of her, side by side, and leaned in the same direction of everything we just tilted. The girl just sat there, staring at us, and began to lean in the same direction. It was the guy thing to do. In an effort to show that we weren’t (complete) cretins, we made a point to put things back the way we found them and went on our way. About an hour after we left, the girl’s step-father came home and noticed that two pictures on the wall were still tilted. Fast forward a few hours later that evening when I overheard my Dad on the phone. “I’m sorry. My boy did WHAT?” “I’m very sorry, sir. I’m promise you, I’ll deal with this straightaway.” My Dad then called me into his room and asked me if the story he heard on the phone was true. While I deliberately omitted the fact that the girl had been drinking, I admitted to my actions. My Dad then tried his level best as a father to counsel me about being more respectful to other people’s property. Unfortunately, his efforts were somewhat futile as he could not contain his laughter as he mentally processed the image in his mind. My father looked me in the eye and knew he was gazing into a mirror. I took it upon myself to apologize to the step-father and endure the obligatory finger wag. My friends allowed me to do this singlehandedly. Again, it was the guy thing to do. They offered to give me backup and then they backed up.
Those of you who have read my blog previously will not be shocked to know that I have not changed much since then. I cracked jokes as my wife panted heavily during the birth of our youngest son. I have played numerous pranks on my kids. I have also stood there, shaking my head in (feigned) disbelief over a stunt one of my kids pulled. I told my wife recently a story of a girl who made me sign a contract. The contract stated that I had to sit and converse for an hour with this young lady without cracking a joke. The only thing my wife found shocking about the story was that I actually honored the contract. Looking back, the girl probably just wanted me to take her out. Either that or she just wanted me to shut up.