The Laughing Life

The son tumbled out of his room with yet another joke. His teachers apparently tell them a joke every now and then, and he repeats them to me if he finds them really funny, or remembers to. One of the many gifts of the Covid lifestyle are little snippets like this.

I stood there waiting and wondering what today’s j would be about.

“Why did the skeleton not go to the party?”

“I don’t know – because it had too many bones to pick?”

“Ha! Good one. But no.”

“Umm…don’t know. Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party?” I said a little impatience in the tone. I had to get to that next meeting.

“Because it had nobody to go with. Get it? Get it? No Body to go with?!”

I moaned and laughed at the same time. A lovely feeling of warmth spread through the being as I headed off. 

Later that day, I sat musing about humor and how marvelous a gift it is to humankind.

My Family and Other Animals is a marvelous book by Gerald Durrell. This book has the distinction of being the first book that I read belonging to the Humor genre. I remember it as though it was yesterday. Sitting in class 8-B, the sun was shining outside, there was a butterfly in the lawns outside, but our English teacher seemed to prefer the miracle of the written word to the fluttering butterflies outside. She put on her glasses and whipped the book out of her handbag in one elegant motion and said we were going to read the book.

My Family And Other Animals: See how the author makes you laugh when you read the title itself? she said. We must have looked like Canadian geese being tickled for the first time, for she proceeded to explain the humor in the title. I don’t know whether you have tried tickling a Canadian Goose. I haven’t, but I think they would react the same way. Stern looking creatures Canadian Geese.

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Anyway, I hope for my teacher’s sake that we loosened up as the reading progressed. But, now that I look back, it was one of the first books that made me look for humor in daily situations. Mark Twain – especially the little story of Tom Sawyer painting the wicket gate was another. Swami and Friends by R K Narayan was equally memorable. I remember reading somewhere that R K Narayan when asked about his inspiration for Malgudi – that eternally inviting town that beckons you every now and then, said, he just watched life pass him by and that was all there was to Malgudi.

Pickwick Papers was slow going initially, but the humor in the book was unmistakable. These are the times I am thankful for growing up in a pre-Internet, pre-on-demand television era. I might not have stuck with Pickwick Papers otherwise. 

The ultimate guide was of course P G Wodehouse. When in high school, I changed upon P G Wodehouse, I did not immediately appreciate it. It took a few readings, but oh! What a gift?! What a gift! 

The father, of course, was and remains a constant reminder to find joy in every day life. His jokes were not always appreciated by the mater, but he could take a the rough with the smooth. Life was funny, curious, interesting and not always serious if only we stopped to admire the humor in them. The husband, the daughter and the son all joined the bandwagon too. My Family and Other Animals was taking shape in the Nourish-N-Cherish household.

Where am I going with all of this?! Oh yes! The blog itself. Nourish & Cherish started as an act of whimsy 16 years ago. It is a place that I regularly choose to don the sunny side up mentality in life.  As I started to write down this little skeleton joke, I mused on the thousands of little jokes that did not make it to the blog. For of course, I am guilty of thinking about writing and reading about writing far more than writing itself. But I am glad for the ones that did make it.

In over 900 posts over the past 16 years, life has taught me time and again, that you can choose the sunny side up.

To infinity and beyond!

Bubbling Brooks on Valentine’s Day

I first noticed it in the morning. I had a can of milk in one hand, a foot stuck in the door to keep the refrigerator open, something in my mouth and asked the toddler, who ran into the kitchen, a question. Larks might be brighter in the mornings when they chirp, but I haven’t seen one to compare and contrast. Anyway, he walked/ran into the kitchen at a brisk pace.

I asked him whether he would like cheese in his lunch-box that day. He stopped his brisk walk, looked at me seriously, took a deep breath like he was meditating by puffing out his cheeks (One might think I’d asked him his opinion on the world’s most serious problem), and then made a sound that sounded like a bubbling brook in a stream.

Mornings, are however, not the best time for me to notice bubbling brooks or streaming croaks for that matter. Unlike the lark, spark, gay, bright morning-person, I am a groggy potato head. The head still feels under the weather and the nose tip mysteriously shows a twitch to point itself towards the covers of the bed just vacated.

The same thing happened later in the evening when I asked him if he wanted a chocolate biscuit or a cheese cracker. I laughed and moved on. When it happened for the third time that evening, he bubbled over without being asked a question, I stopped to ponder. Was the bubbling-brook-laugh telling me something? It turns out it was.

Bubbling Brook or River
Bubbling Brook or River

So I tried to figure out what caused it. It wasn’t that he was practicing the bubbling-brook-laugh, for he laughed multiple times without screwing his face up with intense concentration, taking a deep breath, and puffing out his cheeks. It must have been something else.

After a few minutes, I gave it up for the moment. Things at dinner-time had hotted up nicely when a glass of water was tipped over. I had a real waterfall sound to deal with, and the b. brook went out of my mind.

Later that night, as we lay in bed swapping bedtime stories, I asked him what they all planned to do for Valentine’s Day. He started to tell me, when his older-and-presumably-wiser sister popped in. “Hey! Scoff like I taught you to. Remember she is saying something cheesy!” she said and showed him to scoff Disney-style.

I watched him and right enough, he did it again. He bubbled his laugh like a brook. Only he did not know what cheesy meant, so every time I made a reference to cheese, he ‘scoff’-ed like a b.b. Ha!

Some mysteries are worth it. Happy Valentine’s Day even if you do scoff at the idea.