Humor is power.
There are so many times in my life that I used humor to get me out of trouble.
It's worked more often than it didn't, but when it didn't work, it was almost worse than the trouble it was intended to deflect.
I don't associate with many people who don't have a sense of humor, other than as a means to an end, like a Transit Authority worker or a cop.
Laughter is a basic human expression. If you can't loosen up and enjoy life ... well, look what time it is ... I gotta run.
Inexplicably to me, laughing is hard for some people.
It's something that's usually only legit when it's unexpected. It's best to not be thinking too hard in order to really lose it--like, clutching your sides, on your knees, throat-tightening-from-gasping-for-air kind of laughing. That's one of the best feelings in the world. I'm glad you can't buy a drug to make that happen or I'd have had to quit that too.
Some people just can't do it, even on a basic level--laugh, that is. There are plenty of people out there who just don't know how to do it. I mean, they know how to make the sound: "Ha, ha, ho, ho, ha ha, ... ahh, ha, ha, ha!"
But it's not emotion ... it's just a bunch of noise.
And anyone who knows how to laugh can spot a faker a mile away.
As I now work for myself, I am thankfully seldom put in a confined space where I have to fake-laugh at someone's cringeworthy attempts at schtick.
See, I know how to laugh, and I know how to fake it. But having expertise in both is a different thing altogether. One is a blessing; the other is a an example of good manners. And good manners is what sets apart the people that can effectively wrangle their way out of an unfortunate or uncomfortable situation, and those who will always complain that their life sucks and everyone else has it easy.
Fate lands us where it may; manners can move mountains.
But I digress.
Humor is also a powerful social directive.
A crowded, quiet room is entered. The entrant has a choice: speak, or remain silent and wait for someone to address you.
If one chooses to remain silent, they are subject to whatever anyone else in the room feels like saying, if anything. This, to a lot of people is a terrifying prospect--to not have the first word, and so they nervously blurt out something. Sometimes it's funny.
Sometimes it makes everybody look down at the floor. If you're looking at the floor you're not slighting the person, but you're also not validating them either.
You feel bad for them, which oftentimes is exactly what they were trying to avoid.
I'm guilty of nervous funny-man syndrome, or NFS for short. I used to do it all the time, but when I did it, it was because I was terrified that someone would notice I was walking with an affected gait or that my eyes were glazed and bloodshot (from booze, not weed. I still think weed is harmless. I just choose not to involve myself anymore).
I play the averages--always have. If you make a ton of jokes, a few of them are bound to get a laugh--a real one.
But that leaves a lot of blank stares and downward cast eyes.
My life these days is as funny as ever. Even right now, as I sit at my aunt's house and type away, my mind is cultivating humorous scenarios and odd takes on very plain and common topics.
But unlike an earlier time in my life I'm not going to just let loose with them on the first unsuspecting subject I come upon. I'm going to hold on to them for a while, assess them when I'm in a less charged mood, and if they still seem like a beneficial use of someone's attention, I'll find a way to slip them into a conversation.
If not, no big deal. I've just saved someone's valuable emotional response of trying to not make me feel insulted.
It was pointed out to me a couple of years ago--by a close friend--that he couldn't understand why I had to make a joke about everything. I, of course, responded with a joke. I can't remember what it was, but I'm sure it was something flippant and stupid.
My friend responded:
"God damn-it, Fred. What the hell is wrong with you? Some things are serious. Some things are not funny. And when you try to make it funny with your incessant jokes, it makes me wonder why I even tried to talk to you at all."
And all I could do was look down at the floor.
But that day changed me. I was a little drunk at the time (read: wasted), and in another country, and so I was not only impressionable, but disoriented and out of my element. It made it all the more telling, and I had no where to run, hide, and deny that he was right.
Because he was right. Some things are serious. Some things are not funny. Some things--when responded to with a joke--leave the speaker wondering why they even bothered to say anything to them in the first place. Because when someone responds to something you say with a joke, it usually means they weren't really listening to what you were saying in the first place. It usually means that they were scheming in their heads to come up with something--anything--that would entail not really responding.
Because some people can't deal with anything that falls in the category that spans from the mundane and banal, to the polarizing and terrifying.
But some things are serious.
Some things are not funny.
And if one wishes to live life to the fullest, one must be willing to appreciate the design of the typeface as well as the meaning of the words it creates.
Humor is power.
Timing isn't everything.
And your ears should always have a head start on your mouth, especially seeing they're always open.
Thanks for reading.
PS: Two peanuts walk into a bar. One was a salted.