I hate when everything goes right. It’s hard enough to scrape up subject matter for blogs and my newspaper column without having a long stretch of smooth sailing inflicted on me. For a humor writer, that’s the equivalent of hitting the doldrums.
Who wants to hear that shipping and weaning on the ranch went remarkably well? The cattle trooped obediently into the corrals. No one’s colt blew up and bucked them off. My scatter-brained puppy suddenly acted like a real cow dog. The trucker didn’t get lost and end up in border patrol custody. No parts of the corrals buckled under pressure and nearly took out a cousin or two. There was no snow, no rain, no dust. The wind didn’t even blow for crying out loud.
Face it. Competence is dull. Say you run into an old friend at the coffee shop, ask him how he’s been. He launches into a lengthy description of how great his job is going and how his son just married that nice girl from down the road and his daughter just got accepted to medical school and next week he and his wife are going on a second honeymoon and….yeah, about that time your face hits your plate because you dozed off.
Not that you wish ‘ol Lucky ill. Heavens, no. But next time you stop for lunch, you’re gonna sit with Rex ‘cuz you know he’ll have some good stories. Like about that time his boss tried to rope a cow out of the back of the pickup and of course there was no rearview mirror on that beat up old ’68 Chevy and it took Rex dang near a quarter of a mile to realize the poor guy was dragging upside-down by the leg he’d hung in the tailgate chain when they hit a badger hole and he sorta slipped.
Now that’s the kind of story that’ll keep a person awake. And laughing. Not that we want anyone to get hurt. The story wouldn’t be funny at all if the boss man hadn’t limped away with a few bruises and a sizeable bald spot on the back of his head. There’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy and for most of us it stops being funny when you have to call the ambulance. Or the funeral home. (And for those of you who are still laughing at that point…I’ll go ahead and sit over here with Lucky, thanks very much. I’d rather die of boredom than have my spleen end up in a pickle jar on the shelf in your cellar.)
We don’t want to listen to someone moan about their trials and tribulations, either. Especially if it involves their health. Double that if the words ‘bowel’ or ‘prostate’ come into play. Hard to work up a good chuckle about the number of times Frank has to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Unless, of course, he tripped over the dog in the dark and went headfirst through that flimsy closet door his wife has been bugging him to replace for the last eighteen years and he got wedged in there and she’s got that bad lumbar disc, you know, so she had to call the neighbor to come get him out, which is how everyone in town now knows Frank wears SpongeBob pajamas.
Now that’s funny.
We are an odd species, us humans. The only one, according to scientists, that is capable of true laughter. As far as anyone can tell, our habit of giggling at misfortune dates clear back to that first cocky caveman who dared to strut around upright and promptly slipped in a pile of dinosaur dung and went ass over teakettle into a tar pit. I have accepted this quirk of nature and exploit it whenever possible for my readers’ entertainment. Sadly, my family and coworkers have refused to cooperate lately. Even I have been unnaturally efficient. It’s annoying.
Have no fear, though. It can’t last. Today we start building our new porch and there is no surer equation for disaster than me plus power tools. Let’s just hope my husband is as amused as you are.
Just wanted to chime in here and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I can’t wait, and you know I’ll be taking notes. There’s nothing better than cross country travel, large numbers of congregated family members and wrestling a gigantic frozen bird into submission to generate story fodder!
For my slightly more serious take on giving thanks, stop over to fellow ENALR author Shawna Thomas’s blog, where she invited me to share the things that make my life pretty damn cool. Simple Things