by Jep Hostetler
The ultimate form of laughter is when we can laugh at ourselves!
We often hear the phrase, Some day we are all going to
laugh about this. My question is why wait until some day?
Why not begin laughing right now and get more mileage out of
the situation? Okay, so it is difficult to laugh when you are
right in the middle of a trying situation, and I may be a bit
facetious, but it is a good idea to think about ways to lighten
up when it comes to taking ourselves too seriously.
Recently friends of our related a story about how their son
had just learned to drive. He was given permission to use the
car to go the church softball game that evening with the explicit
instructions that he was not to take any passengers with him.
As the evening progressed, our friends found themselves at a
local ice cream shop that had windows all around the building
and wide, cement cruising lanes. As they were enjoying their
hot fudge goodies they glanced up to see their son touring the
parking lot with a young lady by his side. He seemed to be proud
as a peacock to be able to sport this young lady around with
his newly earned skills as a driver.
The son was unfortunate enough to have his eyes meet the eyes
of his parents. Oooops! Quick, he said to his female
passenger, duck down so my parents cant see you.
It was too late. What to do, what to do? Clearly, the day of
reckoning was at hand. (Dont you just hate it when something
like this happens to you?)
When the parents arrived home, young driver son was waiting
in the living room. He faced the music, took his disciplinary
stripes and decided against future indiscretions in this particular
venue. It was indeed a bad hair day. Ugh!
Years later, the son recounts this story with a great deal
of fanfare, embellishment, and humor. The extended family gets
a genuine hoot out of the story as they laugh until tears come
to their eyes. Some day we will laugh about this
has become today and the family enjoys hearing the
episode being retold.
Stories of embarrassing situations, when told on ones
self, and understood by the gathered audience, are solid fodder
for the laughter mill. We discover that others have had similar
situations happen to them and the strength of humor lies in the
shared experience or identification with the contents of the
story. This is the main reason comedian/humorist Bill Cosby is
so funny to many people. He simply tells common stories that
have a great deal in common with our own experiences. He does
embellish them, exaggerate the content, and even adds sounds
and descriptions that capture the imagination.
Embarrassing situations can be turned into funny stories.
All it takes is time, a sense of humor, and an imagination. Why
not resurrect some of your past embarrassments and share them
with your small group, your children, or your grand children?
Couched with a tongue in cheek attitude, and announced
with a cover of uncertainty as to the exact details, I can assure
you that especially the grandchildren will enjoy hearing about
your past foibles.
Jep Hostetler, Ph.D., Columbus, Ohio, is
a humor consultant and author. He is an associate professor emeritus
at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. He and his
wife Joyce serve as the staff persons for the Mennonite Medical
Mennonite Historical Bulletin, April 2000