Double Edged Laughter

Interesting headline, don’t you think? So what was the first thought that came into your head when you read it? Come on, be honest. How about the second thought?

The real story behind this sports headline from several years ago was that Alex Rodriquez (A-Rod) hit a homer, (goes deep) and the Yankees pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang, (Wang) was injured running the bases in the same game. Did the newspaper intentionally print a suggestive double entendre headline? I’m sure they did. Did they accurately report the facts? Absolutely.

But here’s the thing. There were people who read that headline, like me, and laughed at the creativity and fun you can have with language, while others rolled their eyes, found it distasteful and hid it from the kids. I sometimes wonder what leads us to our individual reactions.

Personally, I can trace mine back to my mother. She wasn’t exactly June Cleaver. (Sorry, some of you may not remember this all American mother from the 50’s). She was different, someone who wasn’t afraid to say what she was thinking, even if those thoughts made some people blush. My mother didn’t really swear. She’d occasionally use the word hell or ass in a funny way but not in general language and nothing beyond that. Instead, she preferred using the double meaning of words in a humorous way. Sort of like the headline above.
She was funny. She loved to laugh and she loved seeing others laugh, which is why there were always people around her at a party. She loved hearing a good joke as much as telling one and if it was a bit racy, that was fine with her. She taught me about the power of humor early on, how it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself, how it can bring people together, the broad scope of it and how to play with the language in a fun and sometimes irreverent way. She had few boundaries and didn’t worry about who might be in the room. If someone was offended, she’d laugh and say they had “delicate ears.”

I was young when we started sharing jokes. If I heard a good one, I couldn’t wait to come home and tell her. I would watch as she made people laugh by twisting words into different meanings. My mother was Italian but father’s side of the family was very English and more conservative.  I can still see my very conservative Aunt Lydia blush at a story my mother was telling and laugh so hard her face turned red and her eyes watered. I can see my Aunt Sadie, whose lips never came near a curse word in her life, laugh so hard she couldn’t catch her breath, which in turn made me laugh just as hard. It was suggestive,  harmless fun.

Would all these relatives and friends be better people/christians/parents/spouses/aunts/uncles/cousins,  if they turned away from her suggestive humor and questioned her parenting abilities? Would my brother and I be better human beings if we never heard those jokes? Would we have been kicked out of Catholic school, the church and  not allowed to be altar boys for as long as we were if , God forbid, the priest and nuns knew of this “sinful” humor? Seems to me we grew up pretty well, married great ladies and raised terrific children. I don’t think anyone was scarred by her brand of humor and the jokes we heard or she told us.

As far as I know, laughter that wasn’t mean or hurtful never scarred anyone.

I just know that when I think of her, I smile. When I remember the irreverence of her stories and language, I laugh. Humor had few boundaries for her. She was a good person who enjoyed laughter and loved  sharing that laughter with others.

I would say that’s a life pretty well lived.

 

 

 

 

 

67 thoughts on “Double Edged Laughter

  1. Helen Devries

    Better honest, open laughter than mealy mouthed slypusses who do harm by stealth.

    My uncle Andrew could have all of us kids in a roar of laughter as he told his stories of the ups and downs of making his fortune in America, complete with salty language. His sour faced wife would leave the room…probably to pray for his soul.

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  2. Janis

    My mother was a writer and editor and loved the English language in all its messy beauty. She would have delighted in this headline… as I did. Your mother sounds like she was a lot of fun.

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  3. edgar62

    Psalm 2:4 “He who sits in Heaven shall laugh”
    I have a friend who sends me funny stories – some are a tad corny, but I like them. I cannot be bothered with most modern comedians who are incapable of telling a story without a swear word every half dozen words. Apart from which, I don’t find them funny. Your mom sounds like a lovely lady – sort of like my own mum.

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Edgar. I’m glad you brought up the point of comedy today. As I was writing this I was thinking of the comedy I remember hearing as a child and I thought, and still think, it’s more rewarding to make people laugh without using four letter words every ten seconds. It really is an art form that’s lost today.

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  4. Osyth

    The riches of language should not be curbed by prissy sensibilities in my view and being able to let go and roar with unfettered laughter is the greatest of stress remedies bar none. I’d have welcomed a moment with your mum any time. Fact.

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  5. quiall

    What a lovely tribute to a wonderful woman! Mom was Irish background and my Father English. Whew. But laughter was a staple in our home. We all grew up up be responsible adults. Maybe that is the key to life: laugh more.

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  6. Lynn

    I think I would have sought your Mom out at a party George! I think there are many people who could benefit from a little more laughter in their lives. Besides a good hug, a good old belly laugh is the best feeling!

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  7. vanbytheriver

    They have always said that humor is a great way to deal with stress. That holds true for my family, George. Those laughs got us through the rough stuff. Your mother sounds wonderful, and you do her justice here. And it never takes profanity, just a twisted/alternative way of looking at life, and language. I am often unfiltered, and sure that I embarrass my kids often. But I hope that some day, they will be able to write something like this about me. Thanks.

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    1. George Post author

      I love unfiltered. It’s honest and real. Not like some of the back door stuff we see and hear about too often. You’re right, profanity is not necessary. You just need to look at the world a little differently and let your mind be free to play..:)

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  8. Kate Crimmins

    I love your mom and I didn’t even know her. Laughing is contagious. My husband often (as in always) falls asleep in front of the TV. If there is a funny show on (rare) and I am laughing, he will wake up laughing. He totally missed the joke but my laughing gets him laughing. My mom had a good sense of humor too. She was especially good at looking outraged when something funny was going on.

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    1. George Post author

      You’re right, Kate, laughing is very contagious and can change a mood instantly. I’ve seen that outraged look on some of my aunts but it never stopped them from getting closer to my mom so they can hear what she was saying…:) It’s priceless. Thank you..:)

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  9. oldmainer

    Great story. I am a big fan of the double entendre. Never underestimate the power of a good laugh. I think humor is way underrated. I subscribed at a young age and fully believe it is the reason I can survive in today’s world.

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  10. Jennifer Kelland Perry

    Well, I laughed when I read that headline, and now I have to go show it to my husband. 😀
    Speaking of headlines, this one about the legalization of marijuana made me grin this morning:
    “Province rolling out pot plan sometime in next few weeks”
    Btw, I think I would have loved your mother!

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  11. Encore Voyage

    You said it! “Laughter that isn’t mean or hurtful never scarred anyone! I loved the headline and the creativity of its writer. Unfortunately, sometimes these days, I think people (writers and so-called ‘comedians’) have lost their “mean or hurtful” filters. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if true creative humor returned? And yes, that was a little “June Cleaver” of me…

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    1. George Post author

      I agree that writers and comedians really don’t know how to get a laugh today without shock or poor language. I do t k ow if we’ll ever get that back but the June Cleavers in us can hope…:)

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  12. Ann Coleman

    Your mother sounds as if she was a warm, funny and caring person! How lucky you and your family were to have her. I see nothing wrong with humor that is a little “racy,” especially if it is truly funny. Humor does bring people together and also takes the rough edges off of life, I think. Honestly, I often think that one of the biggest problems in our society today is that we all take ourselves just a little too seriously!

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    1. George Post author

      I agree with your comment about taking life too seriously. It seems we forgot how to have fun and instead we critique and criticize everything that’s said.
      Like her, I love playing with the double meaning of words and then watching the faces of people as they try to respond..:)
      Blushing is always fun. 😊

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  13. aginggracefullymyass

    Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine…” As long as it’s not at anybody else’s expense (“humor” to tear down which unfortunately happens), humor is one of the most important gifts we can give to our children and grandchildren! I know it’s kept me sane (semi-sane?) all these years!

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  14. deepasthoughts

    I bet those who worked for the newspaper and had a funny bone would have had such a fun time printing that headline. LOL! And there would have been people rolling their eyes as well.
    It is so good when you think of a person and that brings a smile. And wonderful to read about your mom. A child waiting to share a joke with his mom is such a cherish-able moment for the mom as well.

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  15. thechickengrandma

    OH George!! This one made me laugh….shared with my husband who also laughed. Loved reading about your mom. My dad is much the same way. He loves telling people about going on a dam tour. (actually talking about touring the dam at Gavin’s Point)….maybe that is why I am slightly off-center????

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    1. George Post author

      Lol.. If you’re off center we should all be so lucky. That’s a great way to see life. Otherwise we’d be boring, which our parents certainly weren’t. Thanks, Faye…:)

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