Dear Michael and Caroline,
In my earliest memories, I’m trying to make my mother laugh, anything to get her to forget her deafness, to render it irrelevant, to enable me to forget, too, that she could never hear me, or hear anything else in life for that matter.
Make mommy laugh, my mandate went.
My humor thus seems born of this, the central sadness of my life.
Once with others, my mischief had less to do with spreading sunshine, really, than with making me feel less ill at ease and even somewhat important. If I can get someone to laugh, it makes me feel, even to this day, less uncertain, less awkward and alienated, more in control somehow. I’m unable to help myself and am totally at the mercy of this whim.
As it turns out, I’ve always seen my sense of humor as both blessing and curse. Sometimes my fooling around has backfired bigtime – landed me in detention, wound up insulting others, led to my being branded unserious, a wise guy.
Truth be told, anyone who can see the humor in life takes the world quite seriously. A joke is just a risk you run. Some will laugh, others will just stare. It’s touch and go, a catch-as-catch-can proposition, just like most everything else.
P.S. – See part 3 tomorrow.