Sometimes, I say things that crack myself up. I think I’m funny and it’s enough that I make myself laugh, I don’t have to entertain others, but feedback does help. I got to thinking about where I got my sense of humor. My family wasn’t particularly jovial or funny as evidenced by the following anecdotes.
My dad was a serious guy. Brooding and contemplative, he didn’t smile much. In fact, when we aimed a camera at him, we often had to cajole him into not looking like he was about to undergo surgery. One morning, when he went off to work, my sister and I cut out smiley faces and pinned them on his jacket to remind him to smile. I don’t remember him ever making a joke and his laugh seemed forced. That’s not to say he wasn’t well liked and loved. But funny he was not.
My mother often missed the gist of a joke. Punch lines eluded her, as did subtlety or word play. When she said to a nephew who was contemplating contact lenses, “I wonder how you’d look without glasses,” he took his glasses off and said, “Like this.” She didn’t get it. A family story we like to retell is her visit to a local store where there are animated figures singing and dancing above your head. At one stop along an aisle, there was an animated lady at a piano about to play a tune. My mom looked up and said, “Oh, miss, can you play….” When I told her she was talking to a dummy, not only didn’t she believe it, but she tried making a request again.
My sister had the strangest sense of humor of all. In high school, for Halloween, she went as the old “Maidenform bra ad.” Remember the one? You’d see a woman wearing a bra and walking into, say, a theater and the voice would say, “I dreamt I went to the opera in my Maidenform bra.” She wore a white bra on top of a black shirt… this was in 1959! Needless to say, she got thrown out of school.
At my wedding, when sisters are supposed to be supportive and helpful, she came into the room where I was waiting for the ceremony to start and whipped out my “yum-yum cover” – the security blanket I used as a child. She insisted that I take a photo with it, sucking my fingers, while wearing my bridal gown. When my daughter was a toddler, my sister insisted on pasting chocolate bars to a tree so that when my daughter woke up from a nap, she’d think that candy grew on trees! She was once reading a magazine and said, “look at that photo, it actually looks like snow; touch it.” I did and then she told me it was her dandruff she had let fall onto the picture. Ewwww!
There’s an old saying: “Insanity is hereditary; you get it from your kids.” So where did I get my sense of humor? Perhaps from my children … they’re both very funny!