Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm Thankful For Laughter

As most of you probably know this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving. Obviously, I wanted my story to be thank-themed as it were so I began considering all the things I am thankful for. Now, there are a load of things I could list that make me truly thankful to God. I could start with my wife and children then move on with more family and friends and continue with a long heart warming list. However, it wouldn't be very funny and would only interest a handful of people.

After a bit of mulling it over I decided that I should jot down a few stories about something that almost everyone is thankful for. Laughter is the only running theme in these few tales. It's something that makes almost everyone happy. I only say “almost” because of the few people out there who are determined never to find anything funny under any circumstances for any reason. The vast majority of us, however, should be thankful for laughter.

I am going to open this series of stories with a story that was told to me once while I rode along down the road with my brother, Jonathan Cooper and Chris Holland. We were discussing something (none of us remember what it was) when Chris decided to chime in with an amusing anecdote. As soon as there was a pause in the conversation he started.

“Yea, my uncle has a... no wait... he sold that...”

We all sat in silence for a perhaps three seconds. Then Josh, Jonathan and I burst out laughing in unison. By the time we had stopped making fun of Chris's story telling style (which took us a good twenty minutes) we asked what it was his uncle had owned, once upon a time, that had related to what we had been talking about. Sadly, he had forgotten what it was and we couldn't remember what we had been talking about before that. As a result whatever it was has been lost to history. However, we can feel good that I have recorded Chris's fabulous ten word story about it for posterity.

Chris has always been good at inspiring laughter, even if most of the time it's at his expense. Another member of our little group that was great at getting laughed at was Aaron Miller. I haven't described Aaron yet in these pages so I'll do my best to shorty sum him up. For the most part Aaron is a combination of every stand up comedian, funny movie and sit-com ever to be laughed at. I don't mean to say that he's that funny, I mean to say that he's seen them all and can repeat them like a parrot.

He would use the same joke so often that Joshua and I nicknamed him the Grim Jockey because, as the old saying goes, he would beat a dead horse. He would also occasionally say things that were original “Aaron”, but most of the time he didn't realize they were funny. For instance, one time Josh and he were walking through the mall and Josh spotted an attractive young girl. He tried to point her out to Aaron.

“There you go bro! There's a girl you could talk to. Look at her!” Josh said looking in the girl's direction.

“Yea. And look at her mom!” was his reply.

Needless to say we all got some good laughs out of that. Not that there is anything wrong with an attractive mother, I am married to one. However, as a teenage boy I wasn't looking for the mother of a teenage girl. Of course, Aaron made the whole thing funnier by trying to deny it later on. We still laugh at him about it from time to time.

Josh and I also loved to torment Aaron just because he would never see it coming. One winter it had snowed (As I pointed out in and earlier story snow is a big deal down here) and we decided to get out in it. There was an unusually large group staying at my house at the time. My cousin and some friends, including Mike Sanchez, were visiting and had gotten snowed in. We had walked out into a field that was very near my house and started rolling up a giant snowball as we were walking home. It had gotten to be over half my height and was getting to hard to push, so I decided I wanted to do something else with it.

“Josh,” I said as I stopped pushing the giant snow bolder for a moment. “I need you to do something.”

“Alright, what?” He replied looking me in the eyes.

“Well, it's very important that you do it immediately after I say it.”

“I can do that.”

“Speed is of the essence. You can't hesitate or think about it. You merely have to do it as soon as I have spoken.”

“No sooner said than done.”

Now, my cousin knew that when I said something like that out of the blue I was up to something. I think Mike was aware of it as well, but Aaron stood their like Gomer Pile without the slightest suspicion that something wasn't right. Having gotten reassurance from Josh I issued the order.

“Grab Aaron, throw him on the ground and hold him down.” I said with a smile.

By the time Aaron had managed to get a surprised look on his face he was on the ground, pinned. I asked Mike for a hand and we raised the snowball above our heads and slammed it right into Aaron's face. He got up covered in snow and laughing as loud as the rest of us. To him the funniest part was that he actually hadn't seen it coming in spite of the fact that we incessantly did things like that to him.

For another example of not seeing it coming I am going to go back to my early childhood. I was over at Marcus Stevenson's house. He lived right across the street from us and was four years older than me. Occasionally I would get to go over there and he would take me through the woods or fishing in the pond in his back yard.

On this particular day we had wondered around the in the woods and come out on the side of the pond that was opposite the house. Marcus's older brother Terry was out doing something in the back yard. Terry is considerably older than Marcus and was probably sixteen or seventeen at the time. I was somewhere between seven and nine. (I can't remember how much older Terry is than me) Marcus decided that since the pond was between us it would be safe to mock his older brother.

“Chunky Cheese!” Marcus cried out as loudly as he could.

“You better watch that boy!” Terry cried back.

At some point in time Terry had gotten the nickname Chunky Cheese. All the kids in the neighborhood would call him that if he was too far away to “get us”. As I said, he was almost a grown man at this point and I'm sure he didn't really care, but he would pretend to just for fun. However, with Marcus it was a little different. He wasn't just one of the neighborhood kids, he was Terry's little brother. Having been warned Marcus did the only thing he could and accepted the challenge.

“Chunky Cheese!” He yelled at the top of his lungs.

“I'm warning you, you better knock it of.”

“Chunky Cheese!” was Marcus's steadfast reply.

At this point Terry started to walk down to the edge of the pond. I am sure Marcus thought he was safe with the pond between us.

“Chunky Cheese!” again echoed across the pond.

Terry bent down near the edge of the water and started making a giant mud ball. Marcus didn't see this apparently and continued.

“Chunk...” was as far as he got that time.

Terry had thrown his mud ball all the way across the pond and hit Marcus right in the mouth with it. It hit him so hard that it knocked him down into the mud at the edge of the pond. Marcus jumped up and started yelling at Terry with everything he had as he brushed mud off of himself. Terry just laughed at him as he washed his hands off in the pond. Marcus's surprise helped make the situation funnier, but there was a fair amount of good old fashioned pie in the face humor. I can still see that giant, well aimed, ball of mud flying over the water. It always makes me smile.

Each of these brief tales make me laugh when I think of them even now. They say that laughter is the best medicine and I believe it. It's also one I have made it a point to keep on hand at all times. It's very akin to plain simple happiness and it certainly does a body good. In summation, this Thanksgiving I have decided to remember laughter with thanks and I would like to encourage you do the same. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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