Saturday, 29 December 2012

Cheer Up, Things Could Be Worse.

If you are in my family, you know the rest of that line. My family treasures a quick wit and fast retort. One of my early life experiences with this was when I was about nine years old. We were visiting my Mom's parents; my Uncle Peter and Aunt Margaret were there too.

I was reading a book about something or other and it used the phrase "marital arts", or perhaps it was "martial arts". The phrasing confused my young mind, so I walked into the living room, looked at my Mother and asked "What's the difference between martial arts and marital arts?" Before I could take a breath, the answer was flung at me; "Not much". The room burst into laughter. I am not even sure who said it, but everyone laughed. Me? I had to figure it out for myself. Yes, I did.

Then there was the time I fell down the front stairs, again at my Grandparents place; I hurt my neck. As boys we were always jumping off the front and back stairs or across the roof from one house to the other. Inevitably someone would fall, usually Jimmie but this time it was me. I walked into the kitchen and said to my Mom, "I have a pain in my neck." You can probably figure out the response.

My brother Matthew's line is that humour is tragedy plus time. This comment is almost always followed by the plaintive question, "Too soon?" Small tragedy, personal pain, small losses; humour arises quickly from these. Larger issues may take longer to laugh at but in our family eventually it all becomes fodder for the humour mill. It's just the way we deal with things.

Whenever my Dad was dealing with something difficult he would say "Cheer up, things could be worse. So I cheered up and sure as hell things got worse."

... And then I fell down and tore the ligaments in my right knee. (Fill in your own joke here; sometimes they write themselves, sometimes you have to get creative.)

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