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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


There was a time when I could be angry and funny, but I’m older now.

Some of our best comedians turned anger into humor. People like Lenny Bruce, Don Rickles, even the seemingly tame Bill Cosby, and any number of other comedians could turn all the hurts and bigotry they encountered into hilarity; Rodney Dangerfield probably had a rotten childhood, and as a result became famous being angry at himself:

“When I was a kid, my parents took me to a dog show. I won.”

Sometimes comedians get mad at the world, and so make the world absurd. One of my favorite stories is from Steven Wright, who reported buying an irregular phone: It had no fives. One day a friend asked why they never talked on the phone, and the comedian said, “I can’t talk to whoever I want anymore; my phone has no fives.”

“That’s strange – how long have you had it?”

“I don’t know. My calendar has no sevens.”

Like that. The world attacked him, so he attacked back.

Of course, sometimes all that anger gets out the wrong way, and you end up with moments of stupidity like when Michael Richards screamed racial obscenities into the audience -- apparently he had a bad day. And that’s the problem for me lately – I’ve been having so many bad days that I just can’t make them funny anymore.

The other day I got cut off in traffic for the dozenth time (hey, I made a word) and screamed, “I hope you spontaneously combust and your airbag explodes and blows your charred body under a semi!”

Not funny. I leaped over that fine line, and the only consolation is that I was alone in the car.

I was unopposed this spring for my position on the Albion Town Council – in fact, we didn’t have a primary, because everyone up for reelection was unopposed. Maybe I should be happy about that – no embarrassing results indicating my original election was a fluke, after all. Still, I was wandering around the house, mumbling, “Why don’t we just bring Hitler in? He never made anyone waste their time voting.” (Which may not be true – lots of dictators hold elections, they just make sure they’re the only ones on the ballot.)
In truth, lots of people do more work for their communities than I do – they’re just the ones who are too smart to run for election. How would a small town function without volunteers?
Still, the low voter turnout made me even more angry: “I hope the five percent of people who still vote elect a Benito Mussolini clone who makes all the trains run on time right into your house, you uninvolved bunch of malaise ridden sleepwalkers.”

Which is totally unfair, because … wait, no it’s not. There’s no excuse for not voting – it just convinces the idiots we already have in office that everyone thinks they’re doing a fine job. So okay, sometimes I’m right, but that doesn’t make it – well – right.

(Having taken a second look at the above paragraph, I’d like to point out that I’m not talking about us when I mention idiots already in office. Boy, is my face red…)

For a month I’ve been trying to write a column about my sewer line problems, which this time around have involved such things as borrowing showers, a volcano of yuck in my basement, and the digging up of my entire back yard. Hey, I can make that funny. Only I couldn’t. I just keep thinking, “Property tax or sewer repair bill? Which will it be?” How ironic, to have my house put up for tax sale so I can flush my toilet.

That’s not a hint to send me money, by the way. Nobody has money. I have no money, yet I’d be one of the richest people in Iran. Modern life has left me the middle class equivalent of Bill Gates, only without his … um, anything. I have a house that’s falling apart and worth less than I owe on it, a car that’s paid for right down to the spreading rust, and a cat. And I can’t make jokes about the cat, because people complain.

Did you know there’s an American Society to Prevent Comedians from Poking Fun at Animals? That’s right, the SPCPFA. That’s the ASPCA’s lesser known, more militant right wing arm. Someone thought one of the members cracked a smile once, but it turned out to be gas.

See what I mean? Not funny. Now they’re going to cover me in fake fur and burn me alive.

I can’t even steal jokes anymore, thanks to the internet and cable TV. All the really old jokes that my kids haven’t heard are now showing up on TVLand and MySpace. Every time my kids walk into the room with a sour expression, I know I’ve been caught stealing my material again. I can’t start a line without them finishing it for me.

There may be no hope for me. It’s a small step from beloved curmudgeon to irritating grouch, and I’m right up there in Grinchland.

The other day I saw a couple of teenagers walking down the middle of a street, with perfectly good sidewalks to either side. I leaned my head out and yelled, “If I run over you and break your legs, don’t come running to me while I’m putting it into reverse to run over you again! You should be drawn and quartered, and all the parts shot!”

That last seemed like a pretty good line, until I realized I stole it from “M.A.S.H.”

On the brighter side, I might die of stress, but at this rate my relatives won’t have to feed too many people at my funeral.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
ozma914
Jun. 2nd, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Glad I could help! We should both spend less time in that fetal position. :-)
myfeetshowit
Jun. 1st, 2007 12:54 pm (UTC)
Sewer line, huh. My mother's sewer backed up again a couple of weeks ago--for the second time after she had totally replaced the line on her property.

The up side was that the city admitted fault this time, so they pay for someone to come in and clean up, and even put my mother in a hotel for a few days until the combined smells of sewage and apple-scented bacteria-killing sprays were subdued.

Still, all these back-ups over the years have kept us from keeping too many keepsakes in the basement.
ozma914
Jun. 2nd, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
Yes, I've learned to be very cautious of what I put in my basement -- everything that has to be on the floor is on top of concrete blocks, or at least wooden pallets. The root growth problem is unfortunately on my property and my responsibility -- no fault on the town -- and it took me close to 20 years of chemicals and renting sewer routers before I finally gave up and had the line replaced. Now, in theory, it's all done (although I just spent the afternoon poking a water hose into cracks in my little mountain range out back, getting the dirt to settle). I think it's safe to safe, though, that it'll be a long time before I ever leave anything on the bare floor for longer than a few minutes.

(Chopper is a bit intimidated by your icon.)
myfeetshowit
Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)
My poor mother. While the line was being replaced the workers ran a back-hoe into her car. Then about 2 months are the line was replaced the sewer backed up again. That time it happened where her line and the city's met. The city declined to accept responsibility that time.

They have promised they are going to repair the sewer in that area because she isn't the only one having the problem. I quess it finally got too expensive for them.

Still, our sewer systems have to be better than throwing slop out the window onto the sidewalk.
ozma914
Jun. 3rd, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
Oh, my. I do think I have her beat, it that when they did the storm/sanitary water separation a few years ago they yanked my gas line out of the ground and ruptured it ... but just the same, that's a horrible thing to have to go through for anyone.
frickangel
Jun. 1st, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC)
Steven Wright is one of the best comedians around. I love how he pokes fun at everything in the most subtle and sarcastic way possible.
ozma914
Jun. 2nd, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, he's hilarious. I *ahem* steal his jokes all the time.
curiouswombat
Jun. 1st, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC)
I try to take one day at a time - but recently they have been ganging up and attacking me three or four at a time.

Sounds like your life too.
ozma914
Jun. 2nd, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC)
Yep -- this whole year has been like that for me. So far, five straight months of pretty much constantly misery, costly repair bills and illness. If there is such a thing as balance, the last part of this year should be a paradise.
cbtreks
Jun. 1st, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
We all know things turned out ok for the Grinch. He even got to carve the roast beast! (And as regards M*A*S*H, at least you steal from top quality stuff.)
ozma914
Jun. 2nd, 2007 09:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, M.A.S.H had loads of great stuff -- I should keep notecards, maybe indexed by subject, so I can appear intelligent in conversation. :-)

I'm not sure we ever got to find out of the Grinch got a New Year's Even kiss from the female Grinch of his choice ... should there be a sequel?
cbtreks
Jun. 4th, 2007 01:13 am (UTC)
Absolutely! The Whos of Whoville have a village full of distant relations - the Whats of Whattown that live over the next mountain. It turns out that all of their Christmas festivities have been ruined for years by an unseen monster no one has been able to stop. It's a very sorry situation. The Grinch offers to take a few of the Whoville village elders over to Whattown to see if he can help. He posts lookouts throughout town and when the monster is caught - lo and behold, it's a Grinchette! Once she realizes she's not alone in the world, her heart also grows multiple sizes. She and the Grinch fall in love at first sight and have their first kiss on New Year's Even. (Her cat even falls in love with Grinch's dog - the Whos and Whats are all for mixed relationships.) The Grinchette is asked to set off the first of the New Year's celebratory fireworks and all in right in the world.

(Did you get the e-mail I sent you last week - Thursday or Friday, I can't remember now?)
ozma914
Jun. 4th, 2007 09:32 am (UTC)
Just down from the Whens of Whendiville
And have you written this story yet? :-)

Yes, I think I did -- the one where you said you'd be going through town? I sent you a reply -- if you can't find it let me know, I'll check my out box and send it again.
cbtreks
Jun. 4th, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Just down from the Whens of Whendiville
Sorry, no story! (It could be a hoot, though, couldn't it? Grinch fanfic!)

Also, no reply, not even in my bulk mail box - which did contain several dozen spammy e-mails from the future (2037 and 2038). Makes me wonder about Yahoo....
ozma914
Jun. 5th, 2007 09:31 am (UTC)
the reply
I know I have it -- but I can't find it! And I can't remember what I said, other than that I'd be ultra busy with the Chain O' Lakes Festival for all this week. Hopefully it's in my outbox at home, because it's not here on my Verizon site ...
cbtreks
Jun. 11th, 2007 04:23 am (UTC)
Re: the reply
How was the festival? (I read the entry about your daughter - congratulations to her for being a princess!) Our trip to Fort Wayne and back was uneventful and I sent good thoughts your way when we passed the Albion turnoff. If you ever want to try to meet up, just let me know!
ozma914
Jun. 11th, 2007 09:43 am (UTC)
Re: the reply
We'll see if my life *ever* slows down again ... the hits just keep on hitting around here. :-(

The festival was, mostly, avoided by me. :-) I'm just not a big fan of crowds or noise; but it seemed to go over well, and I stopped up a few times for some good, expensive, bad for you fair food. Love those elephant ears, and the lemon shakeups -- yum!
3goodtimes
Jun. 2nd, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)
Sometimes, you have to be outwardly pissed so you don't explode and really hurt someone. Humor can only take you so far.

All of us do it. We lash out mildly while inside we want to kill.

Today, I was so pissed I actually envisioned shaking one of the toddlers I take care of at work until her brain rattled in her head. When I was in junior high, I used to fantasize about smashing chairs into my mother's head. These are deplorable, awful things I would never do.

But I would carve stupid cuss words into my grade school bathroom stalls. And I did tell someone a coworker of mine was such a suck-up her breath smelled like ass.

Laughter and humor are, in essence, defense mechanisms. At times, I think we just need to fucking feel, and not have to apologize for it.

And if you disagree, feel free to tell me to suck your cock. I would enjoy a fight as much as you would right now.
ozma914
Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
I would never say such a thing except when soliciting a sex act. Besides, I do agree -- we all need to get our frustrations out, sometimes. I prefer to do it in a way that doesn't cause violence against other people (unless those are the people who *made* me angry, of course). I've had success with a punching bag, throwing things, and hitting stuff with tools. Just this afternoon I was outside on the mound of earth where my sewer was replaced, breaking up dirt clods with a hoe -- swinging way hard than I really needed to.

I felt better, and nobody got hurt. I think that's the best way to get anger out, rather than lash out at others as we've all seen people do. Obviously, ratting a toddler or hitting a parent aren't the ideal solutions, although I've certainly had the parental abuse fantasy many times, myself.

Sex is only a second choice; it gets the frustrations out, but not the rage. :-)
vilajunkie
Jun. 2nd, 2007 07:09 am (UTC)
No one under 25 remembers "Alice". You could always steal "Kiss my grits!"
ozma914
Jun. 2nd, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
Actually, I've seen "Alice" on one of the cable channels dedicated to old TV shows. :-( But in any case, you have to be of a certain character type to do "Kiss my grits!" -- I don't think I could pull it off, although some of my relatives could.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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