I Think Everything’s Funny And A Little Bit Sad
Last week, I met one of the elementary-school students my daughter tutors. We were in the produce section in the grocery store. Our conversation went like this.
Girl: “Hey are you Meghan’s Mom?”
Me with a playful grin: “Yes, how did you know?
Girl: You look like her but wayyyyy older.
Me: *grin fades. “Yes, I am older. So very much older. Yes. Old.”
Girl: “Meg says you write funny books.” (but the girl says it like she doesn’t believe it)
Me: “I do write funny books,” I insist. But, my books are kind of funny and sad.”
Girl: “Sad isn’t funny.”
Me: “Sometimes sad things are funny.”
Me: “Haven’t you ever laughed when someone falls over?”
Girl: “That’s not very nice.”
And there you have it. I have a lot of these conversations when I explain what my books are about.
Me: “It’s about a woman who takes care of everyone but herself. Tig Monohan’s mother deteriorates with Alzheimer’s and her sister leaves a colicky baby in her care, she secretly moves into the nursing home with her mom because she can’t really manage her life.”
Reader: *disturbed look “Oh, that sounds so sad.”
Me rushing in: “But, it’s funny.”
Reader: *confused look, nods, tries to be supportive.
Here’s the thing. Humor is always tied to complexity, emotion, and at times, discomfort and embarrassment. When my friend ate too much sugar-free ice cream sweetened with Lactulose (side effect: loose stools) and then lived to tell the tale, I burst out laughing. The thought of my extremely dignified friend staggering to the bathroom in the middle of a first date made me howl with sympathetic embarrassment. I immediately pictured myself in the same situation. I couldn’t stop laughing.
When my mom, who has Alzheimer’s, decided to call me Blossom, her favorite childhood dog’s name instead of my birth name, I just had to laugh. Sure it’s sad, I’m crushed that she doesn’t remember me. I’m desperate to keep my beloved mother in my own memory; the mom before Alzheimer’s. But, then I look deeper at the complexity and emotion of the situation and I see the love. She loved Blossom. My mom doesn’t remember me but she remembers that she loves me. And, there’s nothing sad about that. Buy the book click here
Also published in par Here at Shelf Pleasure
Actually that last sentence, “My mom doesn’t remember me but she remembers that she loves me” almost made me tearful. The dance between sad and funny is indeed complex when they come at you at once, and must vary from person to person and context to context.
Thank you. 🙂 The dance between sad and funny is quite the tango isn’t it? So very complex.
I’m glad this resonated with you.
What a lovely little piece. It really moved me. Especially the last paragraph.