Do I lack a sense of humor?

OBVIOUSLY I am a humorless fellow.

Sometimes, I watch, for a minute or two, some comedian on Comedy Central – the TV was set there from recording The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Much more often than not, I find the person seriously unfunny. And it has long been such.

One time, around 1989, I was at my girlfriend’s house. I was feeling kind of dragged out, and though it was Thursday night I don’t believe I went to choir rehearsal. After choir, she invited a few of our choir friends home, which was OK.

At some point, one of the choir members makes a joke. I don’t specifically remember the story, but it made mention of some Jamaican man’s genitalia and its large size. I thought it was not only off-color (about which I probably would have let pass) but also racist. But I didn’t say anything for a couple of hours. Maybe my illness has made me more touchy, I mused. But when it STILL bugged me, I felt I needed to say something.

So I told the teller of the joke that I didn’t enjoy the joke, and that I found it racially offensive. She quickly and sincerely apologized.

Then her friend said, “Oh, Roger, you just don’t have a sense of humor.” Between feeling crummy, and being really annoyed with her dismissing my feelings, not to mention that I had not been addressing her, I said to her something I think I’ve only said two or three times to another human being in my life: “F@#$ YOU!” Not my finest hour, but there it is.

OBVIOUSLY, I am a humorless fellow. That wasn’t either the first or last time someone has leveled that charge at me, though generally, I respond with a little more civility.

Actually, I find LOTS of things funny. Seriously, I do. Just not that. Or that. And certainly not THAT.

The Lydster, Part 82: The Girl Who Mistook A Coat Rack for Her Mother

Lydia tells her jokes(?) with such relish, I can at least appreciate the delivery, if not the content.

Someone told me, when my daughter was an infant, that she would see me as perfect until she was about 12, then turn on me. That has proven not to be the case. On the contrary, the Daughter is really good at pointing out the errors of both of her parents already, though, like most of us, is less perceptive about her own flaws.

So if I leave something on the floor, or don’t hang up my coat or [horrors] EAT IN THE LIVING ROOM, then I definitely hear about it. Yet she is struck blind by the things on the floor that are hers unless I threaten to vacuum them up.

She laughs when I accidentally misspeak a word, but not so much when I am deliberately trying to be funny.  Meanwhile, I scratch my head at what passes for humor in kindergarten, though she tells her jokes(?) with such relish, I can at least appreciate the delivery, if not the content.

One day, she was upstairs. I was downstairs vacuuming, but when I had finished, I had not yet put back the coat tree in the corner, so it was in the middle of the living room floor. Her mother and I were talking at the dining room table when Lydia came downstairs. The coat nearest her on the coat tree was her mother’s, so she started talking to her mommy. Then she looked over to the dining room table, saw her mother, looked back at the coat rack, walked into the dining room, and continued telling her (actual) mother her story. No embarrassment, no “oops”; I was impressed, actually, as I would have been mortified at her age.

Groucho Wickedness

It’s peculiar that sometimes I THINK I’ve told a story, so I don’t. I’ve become particularly self-aware of repeating stories, so I tend not to, mostly out of fear of boring myself, more than boring others.

Somewhat along the lines of Sunday Stealing, Wednesday Wickedness offers quiz-things, but with a twist: the questions are inspired by quotes from famous people, such as Groucho Marx:

1. ‘A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.”
What is a superstition that many have that you think is crazy?

I suppose that, by definition, most superstitions are crazy. The exceptions among the more popular ones are those about opening an umbrella inside and walking under a ladder, both of which I think are rather logical, I mean, I don’t want that paint bucket on the ladder landing on my head, do I? And saying “Bless you!” when people sneeze is more habit than superstition.

2. “A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.”
What were you in the hospital for the last time that you were admitted?

As I certainly have mentioned, I was in a car accident in June of 1972 in Endicott, NY, near Binghamton. I was in a stopped car at a red light and was getting out of the vehicle when another car rammed into the car I was halfway out of. This car was pushed forward into the car in front of it, but it being heavier, knocked me back. I was unconscious and got taken in an ambulance to the local hospital, where I stayed for 36 hours or so. But my recovery took the bulk of the summer.

3. “Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse.”
What payment do you make that seems ridiculous?

My cellphone, which I don’t use as much as the minutes I pay for; I mean I still HAVE them, but, barring unforeseen circumstances, I’ll never USE them. I should get another one, I suppose, but that would mean actually figuring out what plans/phones are the best for my wife and me, something for which I apparently have no capacity.

4. “Humor is reason gone mad.”
How would you describe your sense of humor?

I wouldn’t, but the meme has forced me to. Dry, I guess. I do like good puns.
But mostly, I like situational comedy; that is to say, the comedy that comes from the situation. Those early Bill Cosby albums that told a story, but there was seldom a joke to be found. The great thing about the Parking Garage episode of Seinfeld was the believable, though exaggerated, nature of the situation, getting lost in one of those concrete structures. There was an episode of the Dick van Dyke Show where Rob is convinced his and Laura’s son was switched at birth until the other couple shows up at the door.
I’m not much of an early Python fan, or Anglophile generally – those comedies on PBS on Saturday night usually leave me cold – yet The Meaning of Life, and especially Life of Brian I loved.
I adored the movie Airplane!, but the funniest movie I ever saw was Young Frankenstein. I can watch the last 20 minutes of Animal House, from the Belushi speech on, anytime.
Pearls Before Swine is probably the only newspaper strip I find funny. (There are others I enjoy, but not as humor.)

5. “I have a mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.”
Who was the last person that you wanted to beat with something or other?

As a pacifist, I tend to avoid actual violence. But metaphorically, it was surely some politician or pundit who said something really stupid. But I don’t remember, because they come at such regular intervals, it’s difficult to keep track.

6. “I never forget a face, but in your case, I’ll be glad to make an exception.”
Would you ever like to change something about your face?

As noted before, the vitiligo has made me several shades lighter, but in a splotchy way. I’m not pleased, but I’m sort of getting used to it. Or not.

7. “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.”
I read an article recently that asked if marriage was still relevant. Other than raising children do you see the point?

Yes. I know it was 43 years ago, but when I think of Chief Justice Earl Warren in the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia proclaiming that “marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man'”; I still believe it.

8. “If you’ve heard this story before, don’t stop me, because I’d like to hear it again.”
Do you find that you tend to repeat your stories?

It’s peculiar that sometimes I THINK I’ve told a story, so I don’t. I’ve become particularly self-aware of repeating stories, so I tend not to, mostly out of fear of boring myself, more than boring others.

Though for perhaps two years after I appeared on JEOPARDY!, some third party would mention that I was on, which forced me to tell the tale over and over. This is why, starting the very first month of blogging, I started writing about the event. The primary reason that I was bored with telling it. Though I will give a very abbreviated version if asked, usually in response to specific questions, “How much did you make?” or the like.

This reminds me of the Randy Newman song Potholes in which he wrote:
I brought the woman who was to become my second wife-God bless her
To meet my father for the first time
They exchanged pleasantries
I left the room for a moment
It was the first time he had met her you understand
When I came back
He was telling her the [embarrassing] story…

And the next time they met, he told it. AGAIN.

9. “There’s one way to find out if a man is honest – ask him. If he says, “Yes,” you know he is a crook.”
Do you find most people that are in your life, to be honest?

Yes, but I select well. Actually, I’ve known dishonest people, and sometimes you have no control over this, but sometimes you do. Of course, none of us is perfectly honest, but I’m talking in the main.

10. “Wives are people who feel they don’t dance enough.”
Have you ever felt that your significant other did not go out with enough?

The whole notion of the monthly date with the Wife (movie, or dinner, or something) is, I must say, my idea, based on trying not to fall into a rut and having the opportunity to communicate sans the Daughter. When it doesn’t happen, it’s usually because she thinks we’re too busy; I contend that we’re NEVER too busy for that. Now maybe we can’t find a sitter or someone’s sick, and that’s legit but too busy? Nah.

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