Some people seem to be born with that gene that makes them just simply know how to act right, behave, be cool. They tell appropriate jokes, they laugh normal… my humor? Well, let’s say that it takes a certain kind of folk to appreciate. It all comes from the German side of the family, my mother’s side. Germans love mean humor- you know, the kind that when someone trips over a curb- we laugh. Hard. As in: collapse to the ground, tears streaming, somebody-help-me-up-I’m-laughing-so-hard-I-can’t-even-stand, kind of laugh. See that old lady looking high and low for where she parked her car in the mall parking lot? Um, no… I’m too busy laughing hysterically at her. Every time she does the slow arc with her key fob in the air, pointing it in every direction, as she pushes the unlock button; I double over.
When my grandfather, my beloved Opa, walked into a sliding glass door with a loud, house shaking BONK! We died. Twelve people, falling about the place laughing, as my Opa stood there holding his (likely broken) nose in disbelief. My grandmother, a cleaning fanatic (hence the sliding glass door being so spotless that he walked into it) actually left the imprint of his nose and cheeks on the glass for days, just so we could laugh every time we saw it. The extent of my love for mean humor can be spied even in my subliminal consciousness: I once dreamt that my brother tripped over a baby gate, and I woke myself up from laughing. Who does that?!
Honestly? I don’t know why we’re so mean. We know it’s not right; we see that normal people respond with “Are you alright?” when someone falls/gets hurt. We try, I mean, we actually had a discussion once- round table style- about how, when someone falls/walks into something/gets accidentally hit/trips, etc., we really need to ask if they are ok, before we start laughing; not while we are laughing. We debated it, too; “Ok, so… if I’m laughing while I ask, it counts, right?” and “Well, what if they don’t see you laughing, that’s a pass, right?”
Us laughing at things:
Other people laughing at the same thing:
I just remembered another true story: My grandmother, Oma, was in the hospital (she had a bad habit of taking herself off her heart meds and/or blood thinner meds whenever she felt like it,( there’s another funny-if-you’re-a-rotten- person funny story, with that, too) so we all go to visit with her, my Opa leading the way. Well, the first thing he notices is that little tube that sits just at the edge of your nostrils (nasal cannula, I had to look that up) and blows out oxygen- well, to him, it looks a little crooked, and not up high enough in her nose. So, he “helps”- by shoving it halfway up her nose, startling the hell out of her (she’d been asleep). Before her eyes were even full open, she slaps his hand away and yells “Ach Du Lieber, Kurttttt” (with her German accent, it sounded more like “Kaughttt”). The literal translation is , “Oh, my Dear!” which sounds sweet… but trust me, in that moment, it more likely translated to, “What the F*******”. Anyhow, we found it hysterical- his ever-so-lovingly shoving the tube up her nose, her reaction, then his reaction…oh, my God- I can still picture him, hands out, palms up with that, “What? What’d I do” look on his face. Yeah, we got asked to leave the room. We found that moment to be priceless.
Funerals, wakes, midnight Masses… churches in general: banned. Mostly self imposed, though I do believe we were asked to leave once. Now, to clarify: of course we don’t think it’s funny when someone dies. Grief is not funny. Geez, we are not quite that bad. It’s just all the little things- and they all seem to start like some version of this:
My Mom: solemn church music playing, everyone slowly stands. My mother, standing beside me, catches my attention with a gentle nudge. I look at her, and she gives a not so subtle head jerk/side eye kind of move that means, “look over there”.
So I do.
Me: scanning the pew ahead of us, in the general area she’d glanced at. In an instant, I see it. Toupee askew, third man in from the right. Yes, that’s all it takes for us. In my peripheral, I see the corner of my mothers’ mouth begin to quiver.
Annnd: It’s on. Like a tidal wave that starts from my mother, to me, my grandmother, my aunt, and then: to a dead stop at my uncle. Who is glaring at us. Which makes us laugh (silently, give us a little credit) even harder. My poor uncle, who normally is just as terrible as the rest of us, has one place where he wants to behave, have reverence, and act right : church. Unfortunately for him, this really makes us lose it, big time. Out we go, one by one, from the church, bowing our heads and hoping we look as though we are crying tears of sorrow, rather than laughter. Sigh. Another place we’re no longer welcome.
Compounding the inappropriate laughing problem, we have absolutely no shut off valve. The harder we try to stop, the worse we laugh. Nudging, shushing, glaring looks- nope, we’ll keep going. Ignore us? Still funny. Walk away as if you don’t know us? Even funnier.
My ex-husband used to get so pissed off when we started up (usually my mother and I) because he always thought we were laughing at him. Yeah, we thought that was a hoot, too. His expression:
Sometimes it looked like this:
I guess we were a little mean… but, um, that’s what made it funny, duh.
I suppose, in my own way, I’m giving a vague apology. Consider it and apology in advance, if you will. Because, truth is, anything awkward, embarrassing, and non-critically painful that happens to you, or anyone else; is funny. If I see it, or even just get told about it- I will laugh. Excessively. Don’t take it too personal, or hard- I can take what I dish out. Which is really good, because I fall/trip/walk into things on a daily basis & give plenty of opportunity for merciless laughter at my expense.
To prove my willingness to be mocked: My husband and I, for our first meeting/let’s not call-it-a-date-till-we-know-if-we-like-each-other, was at an upscale, downtown restaurant for drinks and possibly apps (we’ll see how it goes kind of thing). I arrive about 15-20 minutes early because-ahem (*chuckles embarrassedly)- I can’t parallel park, and that is all is available there. Oh, also- I hadn’t driven it to the city since, um, ever. I figured; get there early so he doesn’t see the catastrophe that will be me, and also have a nerve calming drink before he gets there. All goes well, turns out they have valet parking. Score! I go in, sit at one of those high, round, two person bar tables, facing the door, order a glass of wine and call my girlfriend to keep me company (via phone) till he arrives.
He does, as does my second glass of wine. He’s as handsome as his picture, and looks calm and cool. He acts it, too. Like this guy:
But me, I’m one and a half glasses of wine in, and I’m a lightweight. Now, mind you- I’m certainly not drunk, but I’m starting to relax, wine makes me friendly. (No Mom, not that friendly, relax).Things are going well, we’re talking, exchanging stories, it’s an easy back and forth. So, we order appetizers. Jumbo shrimp cocktail, and another glass of wine, thank you. Ok, here is comes. So, I telling some story- and I’m an animated talker (especially when I drink)- so, as I’m talking I’m gesturing, I’m sipping, I’m cutting my shrimp, I’m taking a bite, so on, so on. Well. As I’m doing all of this, I’m oblivious to the fact that my plate is moving inch by inch closer and closer to the edge of the table. (I find out later- he did, and failed to mention it. Ass.) You guessed it- the damn thing fell. And from a bar height table, no less. I swear, It was like a slow motion scene- white plate flipping slowly, shrimp, cocktail sauce flying, my face…
Then I was like:
And so, I said to him: “You should know… this happens a lot with me.” To which he responded with:
The rest is history, with many, many more incidents under our belts. Almost eight years later, he still reacts the same way. And, he does the same thing when I lose my head laughing at things he’d never laugh at.
He even laughs when I do this to him:
Which, of course, makes me laugh more…