Monday, December 22, 2014

The Joke's on YOU

I remember my first joke book. I know that my parents regretted the day they gave it to me, because I loved telling the jokes over and over, even the ones I didn’t understand.

Q: Who was the tallest president?

A: Dwight Eiffeltower


5-year old Crorey, in a stage whisper aside: (Mom, can you explain that one to me?)

Every one of the jokes, as it was explained to me, opened me up to a new way of looking at words. What I learned from that book (and the hundreds of silly joke books since then) is that there are unexpected relationships between unrelated words, and the result of the comparison between the two is…. is laughter.

Well.... sometimes.

I love analogies. I love metaphors. I love taking unrelated phenomena, finding a connection between them and comparing the two. Sometimes the result is just quirky (today’s effort was a weird combo of the ‘fourth wall’ in theater and the ‘fifth wall’of the Pentagon). Other times the connection is more poignant. But it is the way my mind works, and so if I am not working out a new pun to try out, my creative juices are usually trying to parse out an unexpected relationship between two dissimilar concepts.

And I now believe that I owe that ‘love of metaphors’ to my family.

See, my brother, Parker, is an inventor. For all that he was the ‘normal’ kid in my family, he was creative in ways that I have never understood. His mind sees problems, and works out physical, or mechanical, or structural, solutions. He is born to be an entrepreneur, figuring out marketable solutions to problems people didn’t even realize they had.

My brain has never worked that way.

My sister, Caroline, is the polar opposite. She is creative, and pours her heart and soul into an art – acting – that is foreign to me. I love to see her do it, but I was never able to make that transition from “me acting like Charlie Brown” to “Charlie Brown”. An incredible artist, her drive and devotion to her art is only exceeded by her kindness to those she loves.

My brain has never worked that way, either.

It might just be that it is Christmas, and I find myself missing family. It might be that I have a niece that I have never met, and I want to spend time in Easley visiting Paisley there.  It might even be that my family is meeting tomorrow to celebrate, on the occasion of my grandmother’s and my dad’s birthday, at Charlie’s Steak House for the last time (Charlie’s closes later this month.) It could be any number of things …but I find myself searching very hard for a connection with family.

I look around at my extended group of relatives, and I see incredible people – geniuses, artists, healthcare providers, lumbermen, teachers, engineers, preachers, cancer researchers, actresses, musicians, entrepreneurs (and then, of course, the aunt who has that peculiar aroma)…..and I have spent a lifetime trying to understand what the connection is among them. It seems more than genetics, more than affiliation, more than geography and shared heritage. Because all of us... well, we really couldn’t be more dissimilar. We are family, but that alone doesn't make sense of it for me.

I think that maybe, just maybe, the family connection is exactly what I have been looking for all this time. It is why the jokes appeal on such a fundamental level.  They provide something I have been subconsciously looking for this all my life: The unexpected relationships between dissimilar people, and the result of the comparison between the two is…. is joy. And laughter. And love.

Family takes many forms. And when I try to understand it – to parse it out, to understand the connection - it makes less sense than before.

But that is how it works with analogies, metaphors, jokes and families.  The unexpected partnering of dissimilar elements, united by a quirky, incredible connection called love... and we all join in.

Even the smelly aunt.


aunt Patty said...

Am I the smelly aunt?. No? Then who is it????? No of course I am your very proud mom. I adore you.

Anonymous said...

You are really going to get it tonight from all your smelly aunts!!!