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humor20105I’ve heard it said that comedians are, in their own private lives, not all that funny, that they are often regular “sober-sides.” Woody Allen comes to mind, and I realize I’ve never heard him laugh. No matter what Jerry Lewis says in an effort to be a clown, you just know that underneath it all he’s a bastard.  Ignore the good guy facade. This isn’t someone who cracks jokes in an effort to lighten everyone’s mood. And we all know that some comedians don’t even bother trying to hide their nastiness. Remember Don Rickles?

I say this all because lately, as you’ve no doubt noticed, my sense of humour is seriously lacking, and I’ve not even been able to fake it. That’s scary, because all of my life I’ve been told that I can be rather funny. My witticisms actually made people laugh. Not only that. I’ve been called a “blue-skier,” someone who’s almost foolishly optimistic. What the hell happened? Did my rose-coloured glasses simply lose their tint with the passing of time?

Seriously. Is it my age? I mean, the older you get, the more “bad stuff” invades your life. If something catastrophic happens when you’re younger, you assume that a lifetime of bad luck has simply hit you all in one big chunk, that from that point on, only good things await. At least that’s what my logic told me. Had a rough few years in my twenties and then I figured, “Whew! Glad that’s over with! Now let’s get on with the good life!”

But once you’re older, your outlook starts to change without you even realizing it.  bad stuff starts to happen, sometimes quite regularly. You gear yourself up for the next big blow to you or someone you love. What a way to exist! It’s no wonder no one’s smiling around me!

I try to look on the bright side. I really do. It’s about survival, right? I seek out every bit of good news I can, because otherwise, I’d drown in doom and gloom. There’s been so much of it lately.

I mean, just since my last journal entry a few other gems have invaded my world, or its periphery.  Yesterday, my cousin’s wife, a woman I’ve yet to even meet, was the victim of a “hit and run.”  It started out as a good news story, because she’d been a good samaritan, had stopped to help a woman who’d been struck by a car. For her goodness, she was nearly killed by someone else who drove into her and kept on going: the juxtaposition of her compassion versus the driver’s disregard boggles my mind, makes seeing the light side of anything very, very hard.

Today, we made a last ditch effort to stay financially afloat until our house sells by applying for money from my husband’s locked-in pension fund. It’s under a new government endeavour called the Hardship Accessibility Programme.  There is nothing laughable about that at all, unless it’s as a comedy of the absurd. How surreal is it that we somehow arrived at this point? If we can find a way to laugh about all of this, to make jokes someday and chuckle with our grandchildren about the whole experience, we’ll either be the most well-adjusted people in the world or we’ll have lost our marbles too.

So why the hell am I so fixated on my disappearing sense of humour? It’s because of this blog, actually, and my half-hearted, on again, off again efforts to find a place for myself in the writing world. You see, someone suggested I solicit ads to generate revenue here. Of course, that would assume I’d have a large enough following, a readership that would somehow morph into enough clicks to make a financial difference. And then, the very next day, didn’t I read about dooce.com? For those of you who don’t know, dooce.com is a mega-success, a blog started in 2001 by Heather Armstrong, a young woman (thirty-something, I’m guessing) who’s somehow attracted enough of a following to not only support her family but to garner a book deal, all based on her perspective and comments on life.

Go figure! I had to check her out. It didn’t take long to realize her appeal. It was her style – irreverant, in-your-face sarcastic humour that in our better moments, we are all capable of, but in our weaker moments, we forget.  And I thought to myself, that used to be me, or close to me, anyway. Where did it go?

I want it back. That “edge,” that bit of fight that younger women use to such great advantage. It’s what keeps us going, especially in times like this. It’s what keeps us from feeling and acting like victims. No one wants to be around victims so why the hell would anyone want to read about one? That would be moi, for those of you who haven’t read back enough to recognize the signs.

It’s a lot to think about. But there is one bright spot. In the midst of a stressful discussion, I burst out laughing today, thanks to my darling husband. As we age, I may be losing my sarcastic “edge,” but he seems to be losing his vocabulary. We were talking about a rather negative news item, and he called the person featured in the piece a “well-do-ne’er.”

I laughed until I cried. It’s a start.

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We tend towards being headstrong in my family. In fact, one of my sisters, angry at my mother, once threatened to run away. She was no more than six or seven at the time.

Parenting methods were tough back then and my mother called her bluff. She found a bag and helped my sister pack. My mother walked her to the door and my sister broke down in tears. She learned a lesson. From that point, she realized she didn’t want to leave home. Unfortunately, she took something else from the experience: her perception, then at least, that my mother didn’t care if she left.

As parents, we’ve all been tempted to do exactly what my mother did at least once or twice. That temptation can be overwhelming once our children become teenagers and start challenging house rules on a regular basis. But if we help our child “pack,” are we prepared to deal with the possible consequences?

Yesterday, in Barrie, Ontario, Steve and Angelika Crisp, along with two thousand other mourners, gathered to honour the life of their fifteen year-old son, Brandon. Their sorrow was mirrored elsewhere in Canada, by people who never knew Brandon or his family, but who had agonized with them, and prayed for his safe return. 

He’d been gone since Thanksgiving weekend, when his ongoing obsession with a particular Xbox game became the focus of a heated family argument. The Xbox was taken away, and Brandon became furious. He said he was leaving and never coming back. His dad, certain that Brandon would be home before dark, helped him pack.

Steve and Angelika Crisp never saw their son alive again.

The search for Brandon was extensive and lasted thirty days. People by the hundreds volunteered to search on foot. Helicopters and canine units scoured the area. Every day there was news of another possible sighting, but each lead went nowhere. The media shouted his disappearance in every way they could. Even “America’s Most Wanted” took up the cause. All this while his friends and family held their collective breath, and prayed.

On November 5, Brandon was finally found. Not the victim of foul play as was suspected, he likely died from a fall. His body was discovered in a forested area just a few kilometres from his home. It was a tragic end to the month long search for the young runaway.

No one’s fault, of course. Nothing that could ever have been predicted. Children and teenagers threaten to leave home all the time, and ninety-nine percent of them remember to return for dinner. But for Brandon Crisp’s parents, those odds don’t matter, and therein lies the tragedy.

My heart breaks for them.

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