Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday, 22 January 2006 - A sense of humor

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a sense of humor.

I wasn't born with one. This much I know. I grew up in a household where children were to be seen and not heard. We didn't engage in lighthearted dinnertime conversations. My father sternly reprimanded us if we giggled at the table. So, I grew into a very serious and studious child with a boundless imagination and love of reading, writing and school in general. I never learned to tell a joke (still can't and won't), could never understand the allure of The Three Stooges and preferred the classics to comic books. I found certain incidents silly or stupid, never funny.

Then, I married S, an intelligent and very witty guy who has always loved the absurd as in Monty Python and SCTV. He made me laugh all the time. Initially, I thought I could resist his influence in the humor area, but I was wrong. Today, I, too, am an unlikely fan of Monty Python and SCTV as well as Red Green on PBS and Trailor Park Boys, Little Britain, The Office, Brilliant!, Creature Comforts, Goodness Gracious Me, Fawlty Towers, Blackadder and The Kumars on BBC America.

I knew I was in trouble several years ago. Since my manager and I shared a large enclosed space for our office (we comprised the marketing communications department for a division of United Technologies), the engineers often visited us to mouth off about this and that. One day, I was chatting with Mike, the company controller, about my husband. I mentioned how wild and crazy S was. Without missing a beat, Mike turned to me and remarked, "Well, no wonder. Look who he married!" At that instant, I realized that, thanks to my husband, I had a sense of humor that others noticed.

So, here are my revelations.

1, You aren't born with a sense of humor (a good thing if you have humorless parents). If you want to have a sense of humor, you must develop and carefully nurture it (just like your intuition or sense of style).
2. Not everything is funny. Times and people change. Not everything that was funny is still funny. Good taste must prevail unless you want to be know for a vulgar sense of humor.
3. Your sense of humor should extend to laughing with and at yourself. I've learned this lesson the hard way.
4. Learn to tell at least one joke. Here's mine: Q: How do you circumcise a whale? A: With four skin divers. (Sorry, it's the only one I can tell without cracking up before the punchline.)
5. Use your sense of humor to make others feel better. Frank, one of my favorite sales reps when I worked for a biotech startup, loved to call me at the office when he was having a really bad day on the road because I always laughed at his jokes and stories. He even told my husband that I had a great sense of humor (imagine that!).
6. Laughter is good, cheap medicine. If you have a poor sense of humor and get very sick, you should prepare for the worst.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


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