This shelter-in place confinement has affected all of us.
I now have a deeper appreciation for the freedom to come and go at will. On any given day two months ago, I may have zipped to the library, post office, and grocery store, and then suggested to Dan that we go out for supper.
Not so today.
My thinking patterns have changed.
I have spent more time pondering how awful it would be to lose a family member or friend.
Also, I have reflected on hard times experienced by people of past generations: the wars, droughts, depressions, and plagues they endured.
Compared to their sufferings, I have been only mildly inconvenienced.
I have thought more about some good things in life that still exist: the sunshine, the arrival of spring blossoms, and, as I will emphasize in this article, laughter.
I grew up with family members who had a sense of humor. I am glad they did.
My dad came home one day with a big, round object in his coat pocket.
“You kids will never guess what I brought home with me,” he said.
He let us glimpse a part of the object in his pocket.
“It’s a monkey!” he said.
We kids stared in amazement! It WAS a monkey in Dad’s pocket!
Well, no, it was not a monkey. It was a coconut.
Monkeys were not abundant in north Arkansas.
But notice how much a coconut looks like a monkey when only a portion of its hairy, face-like surface is revealed.
My siblings and I still laugh about that little snippet of memory from our childhoods.
Our mother was quick-witted, could turn a phrase and never hesitated to laugh, even at herself.
One day she and my adult sister were shopping at Walmart.
The two of them gabbed and laughed as they dropped things into their separate carts.
Then, as Mom bent to place a new item into her cart, she stopped short.
It was not HER cart she was pushing.
At some point she had abandoned her cart and had begun pushing a cart loaded with dozens of pairs of white, canvas tennis shoes marked down for quick sale!
She and my sister laughed then and continued to laugh every time they retold that story.
That same sister, Pam, tells another funny story.
She one day noticed a bad smell in the bathroom of her and her husband Jim’s house. (This “bathroom” story is not going where you think it is.)
“What’s that awful smell, Jim?” she asked.
Her husband said he didn’t know.
“Smells like a dead animal,” he said.
“EEEEK!” screamed my sister
I can picture her now, grabbing a dishtowel and holding it over her nose.
“You go in the bathroom and shut the door,” Pam said to Jim, her voice muffled by the towel. “I’m not going back in there. Take your phone and call me when you find what it is.”
Jim had been in the bathroom for a while when he reported back. “Something dead is inside the wall,” he said through his phone.
“EEEEK!” screamed Pam, through the phone that she held beneath the towel.
“I’m going to have to cut into the wall,” Jim said.
“EEEEK!” screamed my sister.
Pam heard sawing and hammering noises coming from the bathroom as she paced the floor a safe distance away. In a few minutes, she heard this.
“What in the world?!” Jim said into the phone.
“What? What? What is it?” Pam asked.
“It’s a nest of dead baby mice,” Jim said.
“EEEEK!” screamed Pam.
“I guess the mother mouse escaped but left her babies to die inside the wall,” Jim said.
“Oh, no!” Pam cried. “That’s so sad.”
My sister, the damsel in distress, did everything but put the back of her hand to her forehead and swoon while her knight in shining armor rescued her from a nest of dead baby mice.
My brother-in-law, an unsung hero.
My other sister, Joni, is a riot. She says and does funny things all the time.
I would not have said Joni and I look alike, but apparently; we do.
One day she and I were shopping together in a clothing store.
I saw Joni approaching me. I held up a dress to show her and began commenting on it.
Suddenly, there was Joni standing at my side. She put her hand on my back.
“Stop walking, Debbie,” she said. “See that woman you’re talking to, the woman you thought was me coming toward you? That woman is you. You’re about to walk into a mirror.”
I must not leave out my brother, who claims he never gets more than an “honorable mention” in my stories, because he is the only male sibling.
He is the best brother ever, and a great storyteller.
On the day he got his first pair of bifocals, his eye doctor said to him, “Now, Sam, it’s going to take you a while to get used to these bifocals. If you’re not careful, you’ll fall.”
“Stairs are especially tricky,” warned the optician. “Walk around here in the office for a few minutes before you leave to head home.”
Sam thought the doctor underestimated his (Sam’s) skill at adapting. He walked a few paces in the office, felt confident, said, “I’m good,” and left.
Then, wearing his new glasses, he strode out the door and walked onto the sidewalk.
He stepped down off the curb, and in his words, “almost removed my kneecap and the front bumper of my truck in just one step.”
We all need to laugh.
- Remember Dick Van Dyke falling over an ottoman at the opening of his show?
- How about Carol Burnett in her spoof of Gone with the Wind prancing elegantly down the stairs wearing a dress made of green curtains, with the curtain rods extending through the armholes?
- Tim Conway, the clumsy dentist who accidentally injected his hand with numbing medicine as he worked on Harvey Korman’s teeth.
- All the fabulous one-liners exchanged between Hawkeye Pierce and B. J. Hunnicutt on M*A*S*H, one of the funniest (and most serious) shows ever on television.
- Victor Borge and his hilarious piano stunts.
I will leave you with a classic: Abbott and Costello’s Who’s On First?
Enjoy the laughs.