Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We kid cuz we love

Mom told me recently about some problems the daughter of a family friend was having.

The gal dropped her kids off at her nearby sister's house, then went home and had a seizure of some sort that affected her brain somewhat. She called the sister and told her she could not find her kids.

Now, I have no kids (that I know of, haha). But I tense up when I am outside reading and look up and can't find Claren right away. I can only imagine that losing your kids must be the absolute worst thing that could happen to a parent.

The sister must have been really spooked, too, but she got her sister to the hospital. Turns out she has epilepsy of some kind and she is on medicine to keep it from happening again. All in all, a good outcome and I am sending lots of good thoughts her way.

My question to Mom after the story: How long before her siblings start making fun of the near-tragedy?

I'm not saying something really mean-spirited, but maybe asking where her kids are when they are all in plain sight. Perhaps you mock the sister for hiding the kids.

Now, I can hear people from my un-air-conditioned spot on the family room couch: "Jeez, Matt." "Be nice." "Jerk."

But I have been conditioned to make fun of the people I love, no matter what, usually with a self-deprecating angle. Maybe it is only to their spouses or parents, but it's important.

Obviously, I use jokes to lighten a disease or a tragedy, usually only if it turns out pretty OK or not as bad as it could have been. Also, I have to make fun of my people because if I treat them with kid gloves, I tell myself, then they will get worried they are dying or something. Third, one of the ways I relate to people is with humor, and if I am solemn I lose that. Finally, maybe it makes them laugh and helps them deal with the crap.

Lest you still think that I am a jerk, remember how I said I was conditioned to use humor, let me tell you some of the conditioning:

  • I flipped a friend's car at high speed on Route 29 on Election Day in my second year of college. Still don't know why. Panic, I guess. We were all OK, though, despite the car rolling into the median and landing on its roof. I remember sitting right about where I am now on the family room couch at that Christmas (I think) when my dear brother-in-law walked in from the living room and said: "So [his wife/my sister] says I can't make fun of your car accident." That was it.
  • I have mentioned how another brother-in-law calls me “Crash.”
  • My three sisters refer to me as the “little crippled boy,” whenever I get too self-pitying and maudlin. I am pretty sure one of my brothers and my third brother-in-law have used this sobriquet.
  • Even Mom has gotten into the act. When those idiots were driving the area shooting people, I told Mom I was going for a walk with Claren. I was pretty depressed at the time, and half-jokingly said, If they kill me at least it will solve my problems. Mom replied, with your luck, they'd probably just wing you and that would make things worse.
So I really hope one of her brothers asks the daughter of our family friend if she plays hide and seek with her kids.


Anonymous said...

I believe I could dig up the email wherein you asked me when you could start making jokes about Jim's lack of esophagus. His brother does it all the time. On stage too.

Anonymous said...

i'm with you 100%. life is hard enough - if we lose our senses of humor we're screwed.

Ellen said...

When I was growing up and something totally devastating happened -- like, say, not being invited to a party that was RIGHT NEXT DOOR, the rest of the family would make fun of me. "They only invited their cool friends." "They probably thought you would prefer to spend the night studying." In a weird way, it reminded me that I was loved.

Matt Trott said...

Needn't dig up the email, I remember them. The one about Jim having a sore throat and you not knowing whether to recommend a lozenge or antacid is comic gold.

Another name, Jess? I just read about your songful trip home so I know you're with me.

And Ellen, this is not the correct response but if you want to say TP those turkeys next door, I totally got your back. I'm joed will be down with it, too. But yes, that is it. You don't make fun of people you don't love. It takes too much energy to think of a good putdown. And yes, I know there are exceptions.

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