Thursday, September 15, 2011

Don't Get Mad, Just Get Laughing!


             Anger is highly over-rated in our culture.  Everybody’s running around with a fire in his or her belly, which is good news for the Tums people.  Judging from television dramas, the powerful people are those who scream, yell and throw their weight around.
          But most often, anger just makes fools of us. 
          I used to get angry because my family didn’t come to the table when dinner was ready.   I was busy, with things to do, people to see, worlds to conquer; and hadn’t I just spent hours slaving over a hot stove?  OK, most likely not—but why didn’t these insubordinates drop everything to come at my command? 
          One evening, I stood back from an artistic arrangement of mayonnaise and mustard in the jar, bread in the bag, cold cuts, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese on paper plates—presentation is everything, after all— and for the fifth time announced that dinner was ready.
          As our five children and my husband dragged themselves to the table, a few well-chosen words boiled at the tip of my tongue. I decided I would bite the words back if we could just get started NOW.
          Naturally, the telephone rang.
          I vented my wrath by viciously stabbing an unsliced pickle, which shot a stream of acidic juice into my eye.
          Angrier still, I stabbed again. As if on cue, the pickle squirted me. The kids were watching: this was a genius gherkin, spurting a healthy stream with every slice.
          By the third cut, they were falling off their chairs and when I started to guffaw, my husband had to end his phone conversation. 
          I never delivered that particular diatribe.
          But you can’t count on pickles for attitude improvement; gifted ones are extremely rare.  Even a grapefruit doesn’t always come through in a pinch; three-year-olds are much more reliable. 
          If you don’t want to be taken literally, don’t deal with three-year-olds.  The children’s chorister at church was teaching the kids about body parts, toes in particular, and she asked, “What do I have on my feet?’  A tiny voice piped up, “Panty hose!”
          Three-year-old boys are supposed to love the great outdoors, but to my grandson, all insects looked like bees and he’d make a beeline for the house when he saw a fly. So we were surprised when he said, 
          “I saw a really nice bee today.” 
          “You liked a bee?” his aunt asked incredulously.
          “Yeah—he’s a nice bee and his name is Booger.”  
          We all snorted. 
          “DON’T LAUGH!  I like Booger Bee!”
          “Wha-what did Booger Bee do?”  I choked.
          “Stop laughing!  He gave me five and he did a dance and he waved.”
          “Where did you see this bee?” I asked. 
          “At the library.” 
          I thought for a minute. It hadn’t been that many years since my kids visited library story hour.
          “Was his name Booker Bee?”  I asked.
          “Yeah—Booger Bee, like I said.”
          Laughter lessons aren’t limited to children.  Once when we were taking care of my elderly mother, we stopped at the Bliss rest area on I 84.  She went into the handicapped restroom, where the light was on—for about 40 seconds. Then it faded out and she was in total darkness because the room had no windows.  Juggling a walker and an “Attends” in the dark isn’t funny—unless you were my Mom. Bless her sense of humor!
          Families are the best place to remember that life is too short for anger, and not long enough for all the laughter we can find. 

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