Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Laughing all the Way

Often, when I go to bed, I get a bright idea and have to jump up and write it down. Last night I realized (after retiring for the night) that all my reading about happiness has been deadly serious. There has been no mention of laughter, comedy, or silliness in these books.

So this morning, I took out my file marked "Humor," filled with old clippings ande-mails from friends. And I began to laugh. When I felt (briefly) guilty for "wasting time" in this way, I reminded myself that few things are more important for me than relaxing the stomach muscles with a good belly laugh. A perfect way to begin the day.

What tickled me today were old student bloopers, some made by my own students and many passed on from people like Richard Lederer, author of "Anguished English." I am reminded of one of my colleagues who shared this anecdote: a student, after reading Hamlet for the first time, was dismayed to find that "the play was full of cliches." And I am grateful for the student who wrote, "it was once sheik to be elegantly dressed."

Others: a student wrote about "Judyism having one God named Yahoo." When John Huss refused to "decant" his heretical ideas in the 16th cent., he "was burned as a steak." Well, you get the general idea.

A student's e-mail explained that she was unable to drive to campus because her eyes had been "diluted." Another was held up because his parking ticket was not "violated." Another got so excited by a promotion at work--a real "plum in my hat"--that he forgot to attend class. After spring break, a young man wrote that it had been "peek season" for seeing girls at the beach.

I once heard of a student who thought the poet Homer had something to do with the invention of baseball. Another used "wonton," as in a Chinese restaurant, instead of wanton. (Yes, there are secret pleasures in grading papers, but not enough.)

From other sources: After a baby is born, the doctor cuts its biblical cord.
The man who collapsed on the field had to be given artificial insemination.
Their marriage was consummated at the altar. (picture that!)
Older adults see things from a unique vintage point.
The pleasures of youth are nothing compared to the pleasures of adultery.
And so it goes....As Mark Twain wrote, "The difference between the right word and the almost right is the difference btween lightning and the lightning bug."

I also love mixed metaphors as used by politicians. Examples:
1. The sacred cows have come home to roost.
2. The political football is now in the president's court.
3. Some senators are out to butter their own nests and nothing more.

Typos from church bulletins include this all-time fave:
SALE: The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of all kinds and can be seen in the church basement after services. (All you need here is a hyphen.)

Anyway, if the new year is enter on a happy note, as I hope it does, it should begin with laughter.

1 comment:

Ned Kessler said...

A wonderful post! You gave me several good, hearty laughs. In a recent conversation with a friend, (or was it a conversion--hmmm?) we agreed that the many common mistakes people make in speech or in writing are striking. Of course, this might be a mute point! (Moot? hmmm.) This is all the response that time permits me now, but I do want very much to respond to your post about why people are silent in response to a piece or writing or a story. I have my theories.

Thanks for the laughs, and happy New Year!