LAUGH LAUGH

I guess I’m not always as funny as I think. Sometimes drawing the line is my problem—or sensing when and with whom to play. Those closest to me have often expressed displeasure.

My Dad always worried I was trying to be “too cute.” His mantra: “You’re not half as funny as you think you are.” On the other hand, my mother would struggle to keep a straight face, sigh “Bruce?”, or again frustrated, spit out her true thought: “When are you going to grow up already? It’s not funny anymore. You’re ___ years old.(insert an age).

My older kids could be more direct: “Not funny Dad,” from the son.
“Really not funny Dad,” from Jamie, with a touch more warmth.

Blood, however, is not always thicker than water. Stuart Fenton has never said those things. Perhaps because we share an inverted sense of humor, (some call it “warped”), we have, over the years, created some of our funniest moments, even if we have to say so ourselves.

Conference calling was introduced in the 70’s, and it opened up a whole new world to us. From separate locations we’d convene for phone and laughter.

In those days a leading food manufacturer’s standard radio commercial featured an announcer calling Americans at random, asking them to sing the soup’s well known jingle, and as a reward, be shipped a case of the listener’s favorite soup.

Stuart and I had a ball! Stuart was the voice and we’d call friends and relatives urging that they sing for their suppers. Marilyn’s Wisconsin cousin, our friends’ parents, my cousin. Never had a problem.

“Mm mm good, Mm mm good…”” Everyone sang.

That decade my Grandma and two of her siblings passed. The Florida contingent was being wiped out, but the funerals were all up north.
At one such shivah call cousin Pinky shared a story. Apparently several months prior her phone rang….she was “on the radio…” She sung the jingle, chose her favorite flavor, but never received her case of soup. Not to worry. Pinky then bragged that her husband wrote a “lawyer’s letter” and ultimately she got results.

(I can picture my mother in stone silence, balancing her embarrassment and pride, and all the while listening like she’d never heard such a story before).

The price of poke went up a few years later. That’s when Stu and I realized that if three’s company four can be a ball. We decided to bring together people that either didn’t speak, or had no reason to speak to each other. One such duo was our friend Ken and our other friend Marvin’s father.

We called one, had the other’s number dialed but not sent, and then as we heard one pick up the phone we quickly connected the other. Each thought the other had called him. The result was great!

“Hello.”
“Hello.”
“You called me.”
“You called me.”
“Don’t you think I know when I hear my phone ring!”
“Listen, just because I never went to college….”
And then the irate father hung up on the kid he’d known for years….all the while Stuart and I listened quietly and intently.

Who says you need an expensive MP3 to be happy?

The more things change of course, the more they stay the same. Recently our friends Susan and Garry married off a daughter. Stuart’s very close to them and was invited. At the reception a mutual friend—let’s call him Larry—stopped by Stu’s table.

“Where’s Bogart?” he asked, thinking I’d been invited. Fenton knew better, but still issued the appropriate response:

“He’s over there. You know Bruce, he’s moving around. On the other side.” They guy went off to find me….and the ball was in play.

A week later I was sitting in my car outside Marc’s, Michael by my side, when Larry came by. By then I’d known that a week earlier he had done laps at the reception looking for me. First words out of his mouth—that he was sorry I left the wedding early— That was my opening!

“Had to Larry. Didn’t you hear what happened?”
“No.”
“Fenton didn’t tell you?”
And then he bit: “No, c’mon…what happened?”
(I don’t know where this came from, but….)
“I had to give someone CPR. I left with the family.”
“Wow.” (I could tell he was impressed).

The bubble burst two days later. My 11PM Seinfeld was interrupted by the beep of my cell phone—Larry had left the following message on Facebook:

“You’re not funny. You and Fenton think everything is a joke! I just found out you don’t even know how to do CPR.”

Taking a deep breath I thought it through. Did I go too far? Another boundary issue? It was just a joke. So I sent back an apology. Straight up. Without reservations. I’m not sure if I meant it but I somehow thought it was the right thing to do. Maybe my Dad’s right: I’m not as funny as I think I am.

Still, my parents are gone and my kids are out/town. I’m 59 years old, so maybe it’s not funny anymore.

But Stuart thinks it is. And he’s almost 60.

5 Responses to “LAUGH LAUGH”

  1. Aunt Helen says:

    I don’t know Larry, but he sounds like a bright and sensitive gentleman. Is he single? Growl !

  2. Jackie says:

    Yeah. You’re funny.

    Please write every day. Love the blog…

  3. JS says:

    I agree 100% with Aunt Helen, as always :)

  4. Nadine says:

    Hi,
    Ugh, I liked! So clear and positively.

  5. Stuart says:

    Everybody Loves A Clown!

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