My mother knew how to laugh. Her mouth would open, her shoulders shake; sometimes her eyes would run. She particularly loved to be around merry people. She and my dad were a great match in this way, as in many others. For one, he instantly recognized humour. Apparently his presence at the local movie theatre was unmistakeable because he always caught the joke first and started to laugh, alerting everybody else to what was coming, as well as to where he happened to be sitting. Apparently I have something of a loud laugh too.
One of my favourite memories is of the day my mother (my mother!) talked me into skipping university so that we could go to see "Mary Poppins" the day it opened. Luckily we comprised the entire audience because the two of us laughed till our stomachs ached. When we left, the manager dryly commented, "Hope everybody else likes it that much."
Dad had one skill, however, which Mom and I lacked. He could tell a joke. Mom was hopeless. She had a tendency to start with the punchline and work backwards: "Bill, what was that joke about Pope Sicola?" Remembering that Mom's approach was faulty, I work hard at sequencing some joke I have just heard and really loved, but rarely get to the end without having missed some detail essential to the point. So I am going to write one of my favourites down. Here. Now. And I don't have to post it until Jon has checked it for completeness. Here goes:
Starting to doubt his wife's hearing and not wanting to insult her, Harry went to the family doctor and asked for strategies to determine whether she had hearing loss. The doctor, remembering that Harry and Martha lived in a long ranch house, suggested that Harry go to the room farthest from the kitchen and call Martha. If she didn't answer, he was to move to the next closest room and try again.
Starting in his study that afternoon, Harry called out, "Darling, what's for supper?" No answer. He moved into the hall. "Darling, what's for supper?" Nothing. Same at the other end of the hall. Not even a response when he stepped into the family room adjoining the kitchen. Finally, despairing of his wife's hearing, Harry walked up to Martha, who was at the sink, and put his arms around her. "Darling, what's for supper?"
"For the fifth time, Harry, CHICKEN!"
I'm still working on whether the fact that my parents and my husband have all called me "an amusement" was a compliment or not.
**By the way, thanks to all who enquired as to the state of my back. All is well! I'm buying stock in Robaxicet.