Mine Your Life For Humor
|Grandkids Ski Day
Writing tip: Mine your life for nuggets of the human condition that are unique yet universal.
For example, my grandson unintentionally teaches me about humor. Not because he’s so funny, though sometimes he is, but because of the things he says and how the things he says force me to look at myself and grasp how he perceives me; or the world, from the view atop his skateboard and beyond his texting fingertips.
He’s a constant reality check, my sixteen-year-old grandson. Like a few months ago when I said that I thought Fergie was gorgeous. He said “yeah, I guess, for an older lady.”
“Fergies, an older lady?” I asked.
He gave me that eye-rolling look that tells me I know nothing, “Grandma,” he said. “she’s ancient.”
“What’s that make me?”
He gave me that look again, “Older than her.”
Or once, when he was about eight years old we went to the beach in West Seattle. As I got the blanket and the picnic lunch settled, he and his sister striped down to their bathing suits, and as I was just about to do the same he turned to me, “You’re not going to wear a bathing suit are you?” he asked, not even attempting to mask the horror on his face.
“Well, not now.” I said.
But what I was thinking was, ‘come on, I’m hot for my age!’ but I kept that to myself. Why traumatize the boy. Instead, I plopped down on the blanket and sat there in my shorts and tank top eating potato chips when I noticed a confident, 300(-ish) pound woman in a bikini sprawled out on a blanket near us. I immediately put the potato chips away, wiped off the crumbs and turned to watch my grandkids play in the water like a good, fully covered up grandma should. I just told myself “I still look good in a bathing suit” – well, a one piece, and okay, maybe not great, but presentable anyway.
A constant reality check, he is.
And then sometimes I only realize how crazy, weird, overly dramatic…or whatever I am, as it is reflected back at me in my disapproving granddaughter’s eyes. Her eye roll, though not nearly as dramatic as her mother’s once was, is an inescapable mirror. With one searing glance she has the power to convey many things that require no interpretation and are, I’m fairly certain, global, non-denominational and not defined by any language barriers, country borders, skin color or dogma. Things like; Dude, did you really say that? Are you going to wear that? How long do we have to listen to that radio station? Or my all time, all inclusive favorite; Really?
In my whole life I never knew how many things the word, REALLY could actually mean. Things ranging from, ‘that’s a terrible outfit’ to ‘did someone fart in the car’ (this REALLY is generally accompanied by a fierce look at her brother in the back seat who then smiles and looks out the half rolled down car window and coolly says, “REALLY.”
So, what’s the point? Mine, excavate, dig deep into your life for this stuff and use it to inform your writing. Or just use straight on. There’s no greater humor than that found in the world around us. Learn to laugh at yourself. Use wit in your writing whenever you can. Humor lifts the spirit and as my brother Clark says, it gives the reader a break from the dark stuff. I’ve been adding bits of comedy when and where my story, Once a Warrior, allows. The story is better for it; far more entertaining. And my hero, far more human – because we humans are funny, even, maybe especially when we’re trying to be heroes.
We’re funny, REALLY!