The Light Touch

laughing catMost people think I’m funny.  I am given to wisecracking and awful puns and humorous observations on life, even in business meetings.  Not everyone laughs at my jokes … that is the nature of comedy … but I’d guess that 70-80% of the people I encounter do.  I won’t even attempt to guess the percentage of those that are laughing to be polite. There are people that like to sit near me at dinner because I make them laugh and I even have a friend who says I’m like Robin Williams.   I’d suppose I’d rather be compared to Billy Crystal given the sad end to Robin’s life but we take our good reviews as we can get them, don’t we?   My lovely wife, Muri, sometimes gets tired of my continual puns and wisecracks but that’s OK … she gets to hear more of them than anyone.  She probably checks in at 35% headshakes, 25% polite chuckles and 30% real laughs.  10% of the time she just ignores me.  My sister-in-law, GeorgeAnn reports similar statistics with my wisecracking brother, Glenn.

Even in high school, my humor was appreciated.  My favorite English teacher, Mr. Tierney… a student favorite because of his sense of humor … signed myTierney yearbook, To a real wit.   Nice.   But under my picture in my yearbook it also said Sarcastic in a nice way. Hmmm.  Suspicious.  Do you know that the word sarcasm comes from the Greek words for tearing flesh? How does one do that in a nice way?  Along with puns, sarcasm was probably my preferred mode of humor until I was fifty years old, when I decided it was time to dial it back.  Now, if you’ve been reading Bud’s Blog for long, you know that my Inner Curmudgeon’s posts often drip with sarcasm.  My reformation is that I do not direct my sarcasm at particular people, even though I may be sarcastic about that same person while talking in private to my wife.  The latter is catharsis while the former is, indeed, tearing flesh.

My decision to change my approach to humor coincided with the beginning of my participation in a 12-Step program.  I’ll spare you the talk of steps worked and defects of character discovered and instead cite a slogan taught to me … and practiced … by my first sponsor, Don, as good a man as I’ve known.  The slogan was Give It the Light Touch.  Gentle humor can sweep the tension out of a too-serious business meeting, make a difficult situation less imposing and head off an argument.   Last night in my men’s meeting, one of the guys told a perfect story to illustrate this.   He and his wife had been at a family function where they had … to put it mildly … a disagreement.  He went home early and expected a battle royale when his wife returned later in the evening. Fortunately, his wife called her sponsor who suggested she Give It the Light Touch.  So, when she entered the house, as her husband began to make his case, she broke into song, The Supremes’ Stop in the Name of Love, complete with hand gestures.  Laughter ensued, argument averted.

To put it another way, Laughter is the Best Medicine.  It’s free and worth the possibility of a few well-intentioned cracks getting odd looks, groans or headshakes, so I’m not going to stop.  Just call me Dr. Bud.

Explore posts in the same categories: feeling older

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