It’s a useful talent to be able to turn an awkward mistake into an opportunity to make it funny, or at least to find the humor in it. If you can’t laugh at yourself, what’re you gonna do, right?
I thankfully had an example of the lesson early when I was ten. I’d just taken a shower – like a big ol’ boy – and was coming downstairs, making a show of swiping my hairless armpits with deodorant, to see my mom sitting in her chair watching TV.
She worked night shift at a hospital as a nurse, but would spend her mornings this way at the time. I made some joke to get a laugh (duh, what jokes are for), and she replied with a dull, tired stare. When I plum asked her for more of a reaction, she looked me in my eyes and ripped a big ol’ fart.
A real Blue Ribbon winner.
A serious fog horn in a bear cave kind of sound.
She then of course starts laughing hysterically at her own fearsome flatulence and I, being ten, begin comically swiping the air in front of me with my deodorant stick in lieu of a proper air freshener. That’s when the white, chalky stick flies free from its plastic pocket and slams up against the television screen and splays in all directions like a synthetic snowball.
I think it’s further hilarity, but the abruptness with which my mom’s laughter suddenly stops could have halted traffic.
“Oh, come on,” I say wisely, “you have to learn to laugh at these things.”
Deadpan, my mother stares at me for a hard moment before dryly exlaiming, “Ah-HA-ha…”
Which of course gets her to crack up at her own funny all over again.
I blame the sleep deprivation.