Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Everyday Humor

I have a hard time taking things seriously. In fact, I often laugh at inappropriate times. This isn't necessarily my fault because some other members of my family don't have a solid grip on how to handle serious situations, either. Funerals are particularly troublesome. For instance, when I was a kid, a cousin of my mom's showed up at a funeral with a box of melting ice cream bars and tried to hand them out to the other mourners. Apparently he and his young son had wanted a snack en route to the funeral. They stopped at a grocery store, bought a whole box of ice cream bars, and tried to devour all of them before reaching the funeral home. They still had a couple left when their sticky, chocolate-smeared, sugared-up selves arrived. At another family funeral, a distant relation of mine showed up wearing – I swear – a prom dress. No, she wasn't going to or coming from prom. To the best of my knowledge she had not been previously diagnosed with a mental disorder.

In addition to funerals, I've found that illnesses and hospitals provide ample opportunities for hilarity. Have you seen those open-backed gowns? One time, my mother and I went to visit her aunt. When we arrived at the woman's apartment, we discovered that she was sick. The poor woman dashed into the bathroom every 5 minutes, and embarrassing noises carried all the way into the living room. Did we leave? Did we make chicken soup? Did we offer to call a soundproofing guy? No. We laughed like idiots every time she was in the bathroom. See what I mean? It's not my fault; I blame my family.

Anyway, I've learned that not everyone appreciates my "overzealous" sense of humor. There are a lot of people out there who take themselves, their jobs, their problems, and life in general very seriously. These people get annoyed when I'm not properly bunched up about their issues. I've had a few jobs where this was a problem. One former boss seemed to think that my customer service job at an insurance agency demanded both a high level of professionalism and uncomfortable shoes. She didn't think the term "personal lines underwriter" sounded dirty. I didn't work there very long.

Fortunately there are lots of people who join me in finding humor everywhere. One of my favorite such people is a guy I met in college many years ago. He works in a departmental office at a prestigious university, but he doesn't let the dignified halls of higher learning extinguish his warped, irreverent sense of humor. In fact, the graduate students in his department were so impressed with the emails he sends them that they established a blog for his rantings…er…departmental communications. If you want a giggle, check it out: It comes complete with archives dating back many years. Assume that these are not suitable for children or the easily offended.

For me, writing fiction turned into the perfect outlet for my goofy sense of humor and twisted way of looking at the world. It feels great to let my snarky comments flow freely on the page. I have time to come up with perfect comebacks. Plus, my characters can say things that would be too rude in real life.

Yes, it's true that I don't take a lot of things seriously. I laugh at inappropriate times. I find other people's insurance claims hilarious. But at least I've found a socially acceptable outlet for my "problem." On a good day I even feel that sharing my sense of humor helps to make the world a happier place. And if the stuff I write brings me a royalty check every now and then, well that's nothing to laugh at.

Peace and a good giggle,
Kimberly Garland


Annmarie Ortega said...

OMG. We are so related. I don't remember the ice cream bars at all. I think I remember the prom dress but I hesitate to name a name.I remember a really bad fur coat at a funeral and people taking bets if the wearer was going to jump in the hole along with the casket. Actually that was at my grandma's funeral so that's only my relative.

I also have this thing where I tend to laugh when people get hurt. You do not want to fall down in front of me.

Kimberly Garland said...

Hey Cousin Annmarie! The ice cream bars happened at the funeral of our mutual grandfather. You were also at the prom dress funeral. It was the first time my now-husband met my (insane)family. Yes, he married me anyway.
As for laughing at others' misfortune, a friend of mine says that on her first date with her now-husband, some woman tripped and fell in front of them. When they both laughed, they knew they were perfect for each other.

Glynis said...

LOL I love humourous moments as a nurse I can appreciate the bathroom story you told.
My parents and my brother were so serious, I think my humour helped me survive my crazy childhood.
It is good to drift off into a story where we can do whatever we like.

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