Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Writing Down the Funny Bones

Yesterday, for the first time, I noticed that I really like other writers. I mean, really. Joining this website, reading about Julie’s potato gun and the Cajun dog (please see the Humor forum), and coming across blindingly funny quips in the novels I’m reading made me realize just how outrageously hilarious we are. It also got me thinking about why we’re so amusing. How is it that most writers have an unfailing, uncanny sense of humor?

The thought plagued me most of last night and today. This afternoon, in an attempt to abandon rational thought for a while, I decided to take a long bath. While I was trying to have an erotic date with Dean Koontz, courtesy of the showerhead, the lead to my latest (unrelated!) story suddenly came barging into my precious fantasy. Internally, I pled for it to leave, while capturing glimpses of Dean, but the mental editing continues and overtakes me. My lead drags its anecdotal ass so entirely into the picture that Dean gets frustrated and leaves. By the time I get rid of the damn thing (only after much cajoling and a final agreement that yes, I will use fewer adjectives), I’m stuck with images of my boyfriend again.

Then it hits me. This is why writers have an unflagging sense of humor. What other normal (read: sane) person would have a flow of words and sentences intruding upon her, um, private time? What other normal person would happily wear a ten-year-old, out-of-style sweater to family gatherings at the holidays and smile through abusive questions like, “So, darling. Have you found a real job yet, or are you still playing on the computer all the time?” Who in his right mind would receive hundreds of rejections, yet still plug away and do the same thing over and over and over? What healthy female fantasizes about Dean Koontz instead of Brad Pitt?

At the mere mention of a 9-to-5, our knobby knees, skinny from lack of food, start knocking and sweat breaks out on the upper lip. Friends tease us and say, “So how’s that book coming, Champ?” Significant others adopt an eye-rolling, nodding routine when we start spouting off how we will be the next Alice Sebold, or how Stephen King’s fame is just one draft away.

In order to persevere, we’ve adopted the most dependable and resourceful defense mechanism we possess. We learned that if we didn’t laugh at ourselves, we’d get sucked down into such a deep depression that Eeyore would seem like a Doodle Bop in comparison; so we started making funnies. We became likable. Some even called us witty or charming. People got used to our outrageous behavior and started calling us “eccentric,” as they smiled indulgently at us.

All the while, unbeknownst to them, we’re thinking. We’re plotting. The words flow almost unceasingly through our heads as we wait to grab hold of the perfect phrase or sentence. People haven’t a clue they’re being studied and used. The only difference now is that instead of villains, we might make them hookers on a street corner. If they call us “sweet” and “funny” just enough, they might get upgraded to selling newspapers or Frappucinos instead of poonany.

Maybe that’s the real reason we all walk around with smiles, ready for a good laugh. We have the freedom to create lives out of anything and anyone we see and to be as ridiculous as we want in the process. So while they’re sitting ‘round the Christmas table in their Roberto Cavalli dresses, sneering at our outdated sweater and more so at our careers, we’re secretly plotting revenge. We’re going to write about them…

“So, Aunt Mildred, what do you think of transvestite ballerinas with flatulence?”

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