When something tickles my funny bone, it’s all over with me.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been unable to control my hilarity. Starting with rebukes from my uncle, a Baptist deacon, for snickering in church and progressing through reprimands from my high school drama teacher for succumbing to the giggles, I’ve never had much luck in containing myself when something strikes me as comic.
A few weeks ago, this trait got me kicked off jury duty. I wasn’t given a reason, but, based on the prosecutor’s sharp-eyed reaction to my responses during voir dire, she thought I was taking the case way too lightly. I wasn’t. I was taking the voir dire process, with its stern lectures and forced feeling of solemnity, lightly.
Early in my IT career, during a training session for a new accounting system, the instructor described a general ledger update program that, for some reason, had been titled “GLGLGL.” Even though he said, “gee el, gee, el, gee el,” I heard “glglgl” – the sound of someone’s Adam’s apple bobbing as they chug a beer.
The first time he said it, I choked back a laugh. The second time, I snorted. By the third, I was holding my aching sides as tears spewed from my eyes while the trainer stared at me with a combination of annoyance and puzzlement.
On another occasion, I took my 8-year-old nephew to visit my grandmother at her nursing home. Grandma suffered from dementia and we were sitting perched on the side of her bed, trying to make conversation. Her roommate, another old Appalachian woman, but one much further along in her Alzheimer’s excursion, sat facing us, ankles spread, slippers flat on the linoleum floor. Inside her housedress, her breasts hung like sacks of lead shot. Without warning, she lifted the hem of her skirt and blew her nose loudly. Underneath she wore not a stitch. My nephew’s eyes went wider than a neophyte skier attempting the slalom, and I was lost. I truly believe that homosexuals are born, not made, but if environment plays any role at all, the trauma of that day sealed the boy’s destiny. And there I sat, cackling, till my aunt ordered us from the room.
Another time, during what should have been an erotically-charged moment, a would-be lover said, in his sultriest voice, “I want to get inside that dress.”
“You can try,” I said, deadpan, “but I don’t think it will fit you.” And then proceeded to laugh like a hyena for the next ten minutes, to his irreversible chagrin.
Do you know why angels can fly?
Because they take themselves lightly.