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When I was in about the second or third grade, I considered myself a serious child. We had declamatory contests, and I would pick a serious piece to learn and perform. I’d study and study to learn all the words. I’d walk onto the stage with my most serious countenance and give it my all to a lukewarm reception. The next time we were to prepare, my teacher took me aside when I picked, once more, a serious piece. I don’t remember the reading, but it was supposed to be funny. I didn’t know how I was going to pull that off. After all, I was a serious child. But I took her advice and half-heartedly went about learning it.

The day came once more when I would get/have to walk on that stage, in front of family, friends, and students from all classes. It was going to be a disaster; I’d never be able to show my face again. I thought about faking illness, throwing up, running away, but I walked on stage. Quietly, I began until someone said they couldn’t hear me. Now it wasn’t bad enough I had to do a silly piece, but there I was, in front of God and everybody, having to begin again. So, I did what any serious young girl would do. I cleared my throat and gave it my all. Can you imagine my surprise, when I was only a few sentences in I heard somebody laugh, then others joined in? At first, it horrified me, they were laughing at me, then silly me, I realized that was what was supposed to happen if I was doing it right. That first laugh made me stand taller and give my best performance to date. The room was full of laughter and clapping. I floated off the stage with my future planned. I’d be an actress one day. The thrill of that response carried me off the stage and with my head in the clouds, I sat through all the rest of the students doing their best too.

By the time everyone was done, the wind had gone out of my sails. After all, it was the entire school. Thank goodness we were in a small school. When they handed out awards, I wasn’t paying attention. I’d won nothing before. Why should I expect to win something that time? I was telling myself the reaction was enough. They announced fourth place in my age group, third, second, and of course, I wasn’t there, so I knew my goose was cooked. Can you imagine my surprise when I heard, “For first prize, Gayle Moon?” I sat stunned. My mama had to nudge me to get me to go for my prize. I do not know what it was now, but probably a little ribbon. Of course, I got teased by my brothers, telling me they took pity on me after my failed attempts.

Funny thing though, I still considered myself a serious person, but I didn’t argue when my teacher asked me to learn the Nursery Rhyme, Peas Porridge Hot for a school play. I threw myself into that one. I could recite the whole piece frontwards and backward like the script was written. I was prepared and even looking forward to the night the play would be on the stage for all to see.

We don’t always get what we want. On the day of the play, a blizzard began early in the day. The school was let out, and we loaded onto busses. For the kids who lived close to town, it turned out not to be a problem. Also, for my brother Arnold, who went to a friend’s house close by instead of getting on the bus. The rest of us kids missed the play. And there I was with that silly rhyme stuck in my brain for years. It wasn’t long after that we moved to Gillette, and my stage career ended before it began.

As I look back on my long life, I realize I’m gifted with a sense of humor. There were some years that I failed to use it, as I let life overwhelm me. I’m thankful that I found humor again when I needed it most and it saved my life.

I can tell you tales of my insane marriage and you’ll laugh, not because it was funny, but because I can see how messed up the whole thing was and the part that I played. I’ve learned to laugh and not assign blame. In our lives, we all do the best we can, at the time we’re doing it. If we can learn the lessons, we don’t have to keep repeating that behavior repeatedly. We learn new ways to cope and move forward, not get stuck in the cycle, repeating the same story over and over, only with different people. Humor can free us to live our best life.

There are times I may use it to hide behind, but I realize it faster now and allow myself to walk through the pain I may be avoiding. Yet, there are times it is the ability to laugh that helps me work through and accept things.  

When the doctor told me I had severe stage emphysema, I was quiet for a while as my husband and I was driving around, trying to accept what we’d been told. It took some time before I started to talk. “You know, I’ve always wanted to go on tour as a stand-up comic. It looks like I might have some time if I’m not working, to do that. But I’ll have to go as a sit-down comic because I’m too tired to stand up.” My husband didn’t respond. “I’ve always liked the color blue, just not on my lips.” Silence. “Who’d a thunk it, oxygen tubing, the latest, greatest accessory.” That got a response. “It’s not funny, Gayle.” He doesn’t always appreciate my twisted humor. But sometimes in life if I can’t laugh, I’ll cry, and let me tell you folks there’s nothing worse than crying when you can’t breathe very well, to begin with. Laughter gets me to the place where I can survive the crying. Plus, it doesn’t give me a headache.

Author: Gayle Parish

As far back as I can remember I've always loved books. I love the feel, the smell, and the way words are put together to pull me into a story. I've dreamed for years of writing a story of my own, and here at last I've done it. I hope you'll join me as I share with you some memories, hopes, dreams, exploration of a life well-lived.

7 thoughts on “Humor”

  1. Once again that place has allowed me to write a review and post it, then ask me to log in, not accept my password, and send me off to get a new one!

    I’ll try to remember what I wrote to you here:

    Once again your writing has drawn me in. I could see, smell and hear that little schoolhouse and it’s stage. I could hear the muffled noise of the audience settling in, shifting in their chairs, an occasional whisper and cough. I could smell the wood, the dust. I could feel your stomach flutter, fell the initial horror when you heard laughter and the sudden realization that it was okay. And the stunning realization that you had actually come out on top!

    We could not survive this crazy-mad, broken world without a healthy sense of humor!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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