“Against the onslaught of laughter, nothing can resist. – Mark Twain, “The Mysterious Stranger”
I have never been able to write funny.
Something in my bones always makes me dark or sappy when I get to the keyboard.
Which I find shameful, because a lot of funny things have happened to me over the years, and my family love to exchange those memories every time we get together.
Sensing that we need a little humor in these anxious times, I felt like tackling a Laughing Column.
Here we are:
My brother was a rambling kid and caused my mom a lot of grief.
As a child, he figured out how to get out of his car seat and climb onto the floor of our car while mom was driving.
Then he figured out how to open the car door (before child safety locks became the norm).
Once he got out of his seat and pulled the doorknob just as Mom was turning a corner, and he tumbled out of the car and bounced off the road.
It wasn’t funny.
His reaction was.
It was Easter Sunday, and his basket and all his candy had fallen out of the car with him. When my mom slammed the car into the parking lot and ran towards my brother, all he said was, “Mum, my Easter basket! I don’t think he even cried.
My brother loved mud when he was little. When I was 8 and he was about 5, we lived in a trailer park and our trailer was on the kitten’s corner of a large empty dirt lot. On more than one occasion, after a heavy rain, my brother would frolic around this field and come back covered in so much mud and grime that you could only see his eyes.
He got to know the routine of getting naked on the porch so Mom could fill the large pot with water to dump on him and rinse off the mud before he entered.
As a kindergarten child, I fell in love with the girl next door and we got married with dandelion stalks tied around our fingers.
But, later, she fell in love with a first grader who was wearing one of those leather and plastic jackets with the Harley Davidson logo on the back, and she broke up with me. I went to shout at my mother saying, “Mom, she broke my heart! (This was not the last time this happened).
In the same trailer park where my brother swam in the mud and around the same time my cousin and I saw teenagers kissing in a car. We knocked on the hood of the car and laughed at them and then we ran away laughing. The guy got out of the car and chased us across this dirt field.
Halfway through, I decided to turn around and take a stand. I waited for the much older child to catch up with me and then the 8 year old me said, “Touch me and I’ll go on.” I don’t know where I heard that.
A few years later, in a different neighborhood, this same cousin (she must have been a bad influence) and I got into a fight with other teenagers. They were gang members. You could tell by the colors they wore. It was the kind of neighborhood that even 10-year-olds could tell.
My cousin and I ticked off these teenagers so much that they chased us, five or six of them, throwing stones at us as we ran towards my house.
My mother, 5ft 3in and weighing nothing, stormed out of the house and cursed these teens until her voice got hoarse. Each of those hardened thugs sheepishly apologized and called my mom “ma’am” and walked home with their tails between their legs.
About a year later we lived in an apartment complex which had a large pond and lake on the property connected to several acres of wetlands. Me, my brother, my cousin and my friends would spend hours frolicking on those acres of mud, catching frogs and turtles.
One day my friend Johnny and I caught a big snapping turtle. The thing must have been about two feet long from nose to tail.
We dropped it off in one of those orange recycling bins and took it home to my apartment, where we dropped it in my tub, threw some water and some lettuce out of the fridge. We watched it for a while, then went back to play, forgetting all about the beast until later that night, when mum came home from work and went to the bathroom and let out a horrible cry.
After that, I wasn’t allowed to play with Johnny for a while.
Justin A. Hinkley can be reached at 989-354-3112 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley.