Friday, February 08, 2008

a funny thing happened on my way to CA

The other day I was talking on the phone to a friend. A friend from California. We started laughing, cracking up about some dumb thing. It was a joke that pretty much made fun of both of us, grabbed up each of our idiosyncrasies and ran for the goal posts. I noticed the moment (because I notice everything; I’m a writer and) because it was unusual, this moment.

And that’s when it hit me. I don’t laugh here.

When I complain about how I miss my friends or how besides the fact that I love where I live, for being somewhere nine and a half years, we still have hardly any close friends, no one that shares our daily muck, what I’m talking about to a large extent is this absence of inside jokes, HUMOR.

Here’s my disclaimer about how I think California rules and I am the first to ponder groovy inner paths, visit retreats featuring meditation halls and yoga classes, and use the word Zen as a verb. But, people, circling toward nirvana is sometimes just not funny. Look, I’ve got west coast in me - my guests threw granola at my wedding, for goodness sake! Okay, so maybe it was a little tongue in cheek (although my father-in-law who has no excuse because he’s from Massachusetts thought the honey-coated seeds in a little satin bag placed in his hand were a snack, but that’s another story all together). Actually, now that I think about it, I think the granola could have been the last really funny thing we did since moving here.

A couple years ago in a writing group I was in we were critiquing a poem I’d brought about my pregnancy which included the line “the child inside me…” One woman’s helpful comment was that the line was ambiguous because people might think I was really talking about my “inner child.” My response? ONLY HERE, FREAK. ONLY IN THIS SPACE. (AND WHEN I SAY SPACE, I WANT YOU TO FLUTTER YOUR HANDS ABOUT YOUR HEAD TO INDICATE YOUR AURA, THE OTHER AURAS INTERACTING WITH YOUR AURA AND THE COSMIC ESSENTIAL BEINGS OF ALL CREATURES, WHATEVER PLANE THEY MAY BE ON BECAUSE WE WISH THEM ALL THE BEST ON THEIR PATH.)

And believe me, I do wish you all the best on your journey, but if you are going to wear THAT HAT for the trip, I am GOING to make fun of you along the way. It’s just that, for now, I seem to have forgotten how.

I wrote a blog about my bi-coastal ambivalence before – here it is. I’m not trying to say that the east coast is funnier than the west coast…exactly…but let’s just review the data. What if “Seinfeld” were set in California? Would it have been as funny? We’ll start north and move down my state –

Seinfeld in Sacramento? (I can’t think of a more humorless place.)
in San Francisco? (“not that there’s anything wrong with that”)
in Santa Cruz? (I don’t see George with a belly button piercing, but it might be funny if you were smoking that weed you got growing in your back yard.)
in L.A.? (The liposuction episode was cut early on.)
in San Diego? (Perpetually beautiful weather and a strong military presence. Not. Funny.)

A mom walks into a bar. Aw crap, no.
A mom walks into her therapist’s office. Definitely not funny.
A mom walks into her therapist’s office drunk. Ah. Now that has potential.

My current job of mom has things in my funny world all screwed up. While the stuff that comes out of a three-year-old’s mouth is some of the funniest material you will ever hear, you spend your day trying NOT to laugh so you don’t scar the kid into thinking you’ll mock his every thought.

Then there’s the other stuff they say – the stuff you want to sell them into hard labor for.

AND the OTHER, OTHER stuff, the stuff of the world that breaks your heart or pisses you off royally because you are a mom and you need to protect this child and the deeply magical qualities he is made of and you are appalled that others would do things to compromise his present state of wonder or his future, whatever that holds, and so you walk around with the figurative keys in one hand ready to gouge the eyes of anyone challenging you while the other hand is lotion-soft and there to cover the eyes of your baby in order to block out unwanted stimuli. As you can see, there isn’t a lot of time left in the day to be funny.

We passed Measure R (just one more endearing thing about my adoptive state, any election is fair game to get the general public to vote on every freakin’ thing someone ever called out in a town meeting). I hope the cops are happy. It means money for them. And although I would have preferred to have lit dollar bills on fire and shoved them up the asses of my local police force, I voted in favor of this measure. I can forgive the satellite station no one ever goes in or out of that’s surrounded by gang graffiti, oh sure. And the fact that there are never any fewer than three cops parked at the local coffee joint doesn’t bother me a bit, I just jimmy around the billy-clubs to get to the stirrers. No problem, boys, really, you make me feel all warm inside knowing you’re close. But then I got the mail one day…

There was a half-sheet color glossy plea for making our town better that featured a photo of one of the parks with glass in the fallen seed pods and paint jobs from the 1960s and another – my fave – of police in flak jackets aiming large automatic weapons into a house. Right away, I grew sympathetic to their cause and, obviously, I left it out on the coffee table so my two-year-old could pick it up and know who the good guys were. I wish the word MORONS had more syllables, so when I yelled it at the top of my lungs I could kind of yodel for extra effect.

I had a good mind to get my mama bear on, march into the station, and drag them around by the ears, maybe even scold them for not washing their hands and eating their veggies.

The truth is though that goofy things happen all day and while a day that regularly includes wiping poop off a small human’s butt has the potential to be simply hilarious, those friends are missing, the ones who get it, who aren’t consumed in wiping poop off other small humans’ butts, or who are and can crack a joke as the small human runs off still poopy and sits on the new couch. All in all, the key seems to be to have someone to share the joke with.

1 comment:

Dianne said...

The only thing I miss about the job that nearly killed me is the people I shared the situation with. We got each other and even the craziest thing could be discussed and laughed at for hours.

I feel ya ...

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