Tickle your funny bone

“Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.”  Norman Cousins

By Tina Phillips, published on 02 April 2012 Stock Photo - image ID: 10078542

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Since I spend more time inside than out, I get what Norman is saying. One has no excuse for not getting exercise even if only by laughing out loud! I like Norman Cousin’s philosophy and I can relate. Since we really don’t know each other, I will turn the tables on myself since I can “step in it” with the best of them. Just ask my hubby. He watches in amazement at my bumbling in action and gets his internal jogging more times than I can count. It’s my red face, but you cannot pick me out in a crowd so I’m safe to reveal, right? If funny has no place in your life right now, you will not hurt my feelings if you hit the delete button. No internal jogging for you, but if you are slightly curious, then proceed . . . at my expense.

The sound of knee-slapping, uproarious laughter is not only contagious, it increases our face value. When we share funny stories over and over with others we are privileged to hear their laughter and laugh along with them, making the story into a priceless memory.

Laughter is healing. Even if you disagree today, that’s okay. I have shed plenty of tears over the last 9 years, but crying is draining. Sometimes if there is something that tickles the funny bone it gives respite to grief and a breath of fresh air to sorrow. I did not find anything funny after my son died. It was months, even longer, before there was even a hint of a smile on my face, but over the years since, I am grateful to see the humor in life. I believe it is one of God’s blessings. And so with this backdrop, I will venture into familiar territory to share some of my faux pas with you. Unfortunately they are all true (sigh), but maybe my embarrassing moments will bring a little comic relief if needed and even help you to remember some of your own. We’ve all had them from time to time. Admit it!

* * *

I don’t drink . . . but this particular day you might say I “wore” the influence. Many years ago my hubby and I were approaching the checkout lines at our neighborhood grocery store. It was cold enough for a coat and probably approaching the holiday season since the aisles were bulging with sweet temptations. I was pushing the cart from the back as hubby guided the overloaded cart from the front into the narrow passage so we could check out, which would have been a piece of cake had it not been for the tipsy wine display to my left. Well, the “left rear” side of my coat caught one of the wine bottles and, you might say, it unleashed a downpour. In seconds the whole stack of nicely arranged wine bottles began to jiggle and then tumble down, breaking and spilling all over me as they went south. Hubby saw it as if in slow motion. His face said it all, but he did not come to my rescue . . . oh, no . . . or he’d risk guilt by association. So instead, he played “Mr. Cool” but I saw right through his thin veneer ~ as his chest heaved up and down in his attempt to choke back laughter. What’s so funny? I was unhurt, but my jacket wreaked with the smell of alcohol and hubby gave me a wide berth as we left the store. Somehow the humor escaped me then, but over the years it has found my funny bone.

 * * *

I might as well say that in most of my stories I have an accomplice who is a hindrance to my anonymity and is more than happy to remind me of the details later. But that’s a good thing since this is about laughter, after all.                                                                                                                                                    

 Have you ever taken your hubby shopping and found yourself in a moment of mistaken identity? I can’t count the number of times I have done this. Why does it always have to be me? Why can’t I have the pleasure of enjoying him squirm a little? I know. Stop whining and just tell the story. Today was grocery day and apparently grocery day for a zillion other people, since the aisles were crowded with shoppers going every which way. At least it was mostly silent. Pause to think how loud and obnoxious it would be if carts had horns?                                                                                                                

Hubby pushed his own little cart, keeping him occupied getting his favorites. I was in the zone with my list; trying to doing some serious shopping in the produce department. My “wifie” antennae assumed that hubby was nearby since I had sent him off to bag some apples. A minutes or two later as I circled the apple display I noted that there were several varieties all with the same price tag. Since it was all about the price and intending to be helpful, I reached out and touched his arm, even stroking it a little as I offered, “Honey, did you notice that there are several varieties of apples all the same price?” Only then did I realize that I had a hold of a stranger’s elbow. He turned and looked down at me with what can only be described as a “deer in the headlights” expression since I fail to find words that fit better.

And no surprise. Hubby witnessed it all! I looked passed the stranger, which I had quickly let go of by then, and saw him grinning from the other side of the display. It was obvious he loved every second of it ~ watching me grasp the elbow of a stranger ~ probably thinking, why save her? This is too good not to enjoy! The stranger’s expression softened in relief, once he realized I was related to the guy laughing. I overheard him speak to my husband as I inched away, “I guess she doesn’t think I can pick out my own apples! While they enjoyed a little male bonding over the wife’s case of mistaken identity, I took my red face to the nearest cashier. Pricey apples!

* * *

I seem to be on a roll for “mess-ups” with strange men. Take the other evening for instance. I was on the phone with a friend when in the middle of conversation, I got a “power surge” (and menopausal women know what this is). So while chatting away, I stripped down a layer to cool off. Of course the doorbell rang . . .and rather insistently. I excused myself from the caller while quickly fumbling to get my shirt back on and answer the door.

There stood a man who could advertise for “big and tall” clothing. He cleared his throat stating, “I am here for our 5:00 appointment.” To which I replied, “I’m not aware that we have one.” Standing up to his full height which was high, he complained earnestly, that he had traveled many miles braving winter weather just to keep our appointment, but it had to be with both of us. I was relieved that he wouldn’t be stepping over the threshold this evening, but it was an awkward moment where he wanted to get out of the cold and I was home alone.

Then, pointing a finger in the general direction where my hubby usually parks, he noted, “I see someone driving in now. Is that your husband?” Since his car blocked my view and since I was only too eager to steer this tall man in a trench coat carrying a bulging briefcase elsewhere, I quickly responded, “Sure, it must be him. Go talk to him!” In haste, he headed for the driveway and it was then . . . and only then . . . that I noticed it was not my husband, but the man next door, borrowing our driveway because of too much ice and snow on his! And I’m thinking . . . just about now, the salesman is finding that out . . . as I see him make an about face and head back to the porch . . . and to me. But he eventually left in hopes of returning another day. I suppose I could just not schedule…

Only later in playing back this scenario to my hubby (who missed this one) did it become funny. I think there is an apology in my future. I must apologize to my neighbor who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it did work to get rid of the salesman. Actually, come spring, I think I’ll ask my neighbor about that conversation. Should be interesting. Hope he remembers.

* * *

I know. This post is a long one, but can you “jog” just a little longer? It is about birthday time for me. The years rush by all too quickly and the numbers ascend all too quickly too. I have a sister two years older than me therefore she has her birthday first and mine follows. I know her number and that’s how I keep track of mine. Who needs math? I knew she was approaching the big “O” and I felt sympathy for her plight. I purchased a humorous card that I thought would cheer her up. I didn’t sign the inside, jokingly telling her in a letter that she could “re-gift” if she liked. We are at the age when it makes sense to be practical. Of course I included appropriate comments about her big “O” hoping she would forget and not retaliate when it came my turn. But I didn’t get that far.

Calling my sis to congratulate her on her birthday, I asked if she had gotten my card in the mail. She had not. As we conversed, I mentioned my “sorrow” at the number she was approaching. In surprise, she retorted, “I’m not turning 70! What are you thinking? I’m only 69!” I was shocked at her response. I had been “living 67”. . . maybe all year? (a rush of thoughts tumbled passed . . . had I filled out medical documents with the wrong age on them? Who knew?) My sister brought me back to the present with this: “Sis, how could I be 70 if you are going to be 67?” I was mute. Stunned. Slowly the realization sunk in. I had missed a whole year being 66 and she was happily avoiding the big “O” for another year. Who knew you could actually be younger than you think!

 I asked for it and she remembered . . . so I’ll share the card that arrived on my birthday. The message read: “An elderly woman called 911 on her cellphone to report that her car had been broken into. ‘They’ve stolen everything! The radio, my dashboard compass, even the steering wheel!!!’ 

The dispatcher responded, ‘Stay calm, a police officer is on the way.’

Minutes later, the office arrived and radioed in. ‘Disregard that last call . . . she got in the backseat by mistake.'”

Oh, yeah. And to be sure that I got the message in depth, she added a little math equation: current year – birth year = correct age. The good ending to this story is that I get to be 67 for another year. It’s like Groundhog Day!

“Mirth is God’s best medicine,” Harry Ward Beecher

If you are cheerful, you feel good; if you are sad, you hurt all over.  Proverbs 17:22, CEV


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