The ultimate form of laughter is when we can laugh at ourselves! We often hear the
statement, "Someday we are going to laugh about this." Why wait until someday? Why
not begin laughing right now and get more mileage out of the situation? Okay, so it is
difficult to laugh when you are right in the middle of a trying situation, and I may be a
bit facetious, but it is a good idea to think about ways to lighten up when it comes to
taking ourselves too seriously.
Recently friends of ours related a story about their son who had just learned to drive.
He was given permission to use the car to go to the church softball game that evening
with the explicit instructions that he was not to take any passengers with him. As the
evening progressed, our friends found themselves at a local ice cream shop that had
windows all around the building and wide, concrete cruising lanes. As they were
enjoying their hot fudge goodies, they glanced up to see their son touring the parking
lot with a young lady in his car. He seemed to be proud as a peacock to be able to
sport this young lady around with his newly earned skills as a driver.
The son was unfortunate enough to have his eyes meet the eyes of his parents.
Oops! "Quick," he said to his female passenger, "duck down so my parents can't see
you." It was too late. What to do, what to do? Clearly, the day of reckoning was at
hand. (Don't you just hate it when something like this happens to you?)
When the parents arrived home, young driver son was waiting in the living room. He
faced the music, took his disciplinary stripes and decided against future indiscretions
in this particular venue. It was indeed a bad hair day. Ugh!
Years later, the son recounts this story with a great deal of fanfare, embellishment,
and humor. The extended family gets a genuine hoot out of the story as they laugh
until tears come to their eyes. "Some day we will laugh about this" has become "today"
and the family enjoys hearing the episode being retold.
Stories of embarrassing situations, when told on one's self, and understood by the
gathered audience, are solid fodder for the laughter mill. We discover that others
have had similar situations happen to them and the strength of humor lies in the
shared experience or identification with the contents of the story. This is the main
reason comedian/humorist Bill Cosby is so funny to many people. He simply tells
common stories that have a great deal in common with our own experiences. He does
embellish them, exaggerate the content, and even adds sounds and descriptions that
capture the imagination.
Embarrassing situations can be turned into funny stories. All it takes is time, a sense
of humor, and an imagination. Why not resurrect some of your past embarrassments
and share them with your small group, your children, or your grand children?
Couched with a "tongue in cheek" attitude, and announced with a cover of uncertainty
as to the exact details, I can assure you that especially the grandchildren will enjoy
hearing about your past foibles.
Mennonite Historical Bulletin, April 2000
by Jep Hostetler