When dealing with difficult situations sometimes the best way to handle it is with humor and laughter.
As a child, most of the times, my behavior was deemed inappropriate due to either laughing at myself or getting others to laugh. For example: I was about 5 or 6 years old when my mother received a phone call alerting her that my great grandmother died. Her face was somber and she wouldn’t respond while I asked her repeatedly, Who is it? Who is it? Who is it? Then she whispered, “Bubby died”. And I started laughing. I mean slap your knees, double over in pain kind of laughing. I think even my brother started laughing, you know when it starts to be contagious and there aint no going back until you’ve either wet yourself or you’ve got tears rolling down your face? Obviously it was a nervous reaction because I loved my bubby to pieces. For real. It was totally NOT a funny moment. Well I mean looking back at how we reacted like hyenas is funny. But not laughing at Ida Amrom’s death. Her funeral was actually on my birthday – totally NOT funny. I didn’t really understand what was going on as I got left behind at Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Abe’s house in Brooklyn. But, I do remember getting to watch the black and white TV in their backroom behind the dining room. I loved TV. I loved the commercials the most.
G-d Bless TV commercials. There was this catchphrase I remember repeating over and over again. I never really liked applesauce, not that it mattered since as a chubby kid snack-time for me usually included baby carrots and an apple and not cool mini applesauce cups. But the commercial had me repeating the line whenever it felt right. Basically I applied it to everything. I even still use it today.
Husband: Cheri, did you pick up the dry cleaning?
Me: I got the Mott’s
Child #4: (screaming from upstairs while doing her homework) Mommmaaaay!!!!
Child #4: Did you get the gluestiiiiiick?
Me: I got the Mott’s
CHILD #4: WHAT DOES THAT MEEEEAAANN? Is that a glue-stick?
Child #3: (on the phone) Mommy, don’t forget I need money for the trip.
ME: I got the Mott’s
Child #3: What did you get?
Me: The Mott’s
Child #3: I don’t understand
Me: Because you’re 9
Me: Sooo, I got the Mott’s
Child #3: Sometimes you can be so weird. I’m hanging up now.
You get it. Eventually they caught on that if I responded to their millions of requests in this fashion it meant all was good.
Other catchphrases that I used over and over to respond to questions with humor instead of honesty usually got me the most looks from my mom that basically said: Oh you just WAIT ’til we get home!
Once, when a cousin with a hairy mole that I had not seen apparently since I was a baby hugged me in front of my mom and the rest of these family members, made some chubby comment in front of a crowd, of course I responded, “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” . There it was, the look.
My mom would make these vegetable patties that were legit A.W.F.U.L. and I had a gag reflex even thinking about eating one, so I’d stall and ask her what was in them, like it made a difference. Her response usually went something like: It really doesn’t matter because you’re eating them anyway. My responses would vary between, “Ancient Chinese Secret Eh”? and “Where’s The Beef?” Oh yeah. I got the look. Every time.
Those were certainly classics. Even today though when I see it’s my spouse calling on my cell, I’ll sometimes answer with a healthy, “Whaaaaaazzzzuup?” just to get a giggle. The best is that we can go about 30 seconds of that just going back and forth before we give in and usually hang up without even having a conversation. Or I may just answer the call with, “Dr. Galazkiewicz?” and he immediately gets me and responds, “Yes, I am!”
One of my most favorite lines I ever read was that “laughter is a smile that burst”. Like I said, I wasn’t a funny kid. I was not the one with the witty comeback, in fact I’d come back to my brother a few days after an insult and throw one back at him and it always ended badly. Sorta’ like George Castanza’s “jerk store” comeback. Failing miserably, I found that when I had these one-liners mimicking commercials I felt real satisfaction. Like someone should have been patting me on the back and saying, “there you go kid, you found your thing”.
It is my complete nature to want to make people happy. If there is something I can do, anything I can do, that may cheer someone up I’d try it. I may not be the one to think of it, but by the power of suggestion, bippityboppityboo, I am the girl wearing the clown costume visiting sick kids. True story. I made them cry though…clowning apparently NOT MA THANG. It may be why I don’t love dressing in costume as an adult, gotta’ remember to add that to the list of things I’d ask a therapist when I hit 40.
If I were to be asked nowadays what’s the one phrase I use most often, it would probably be from a homemade commercial for Kix. The kid’s facial expressions are priceless and I often see my 4 yr. old make them as well. As a mom who has a child that is forever finding ways to climb up on something dangerous I hear myself quoting, “superman, get down from there”.