In the interest of full disclosure I should tell you my family has a defective gene. Well, obviously we have many defective genes, some of us more than others, but I speak now of one in particular. We have the gene that involves inappropriate laughter. Really inappropriate laughter.
For reasons known only to genetic scientists, I must constantly fight the urge to burst into a fit of giggles when someone gets hurt. Please don’t think I’m some Fifty Shades of Gray sort of sadist. I don’t laugh when people get hurt badly. In those circumstances, I am a source of empathy, understanding, and, if the occasion calls for it, a tourniquet. No, it’s the minor injuries that set me off. For instance, if I am watching sports and a player gets hit in the “elbow” it just cracks me up. “Elbow” is a euphemism my friend John taught me. When he played football at Northern Illinois University (This is a real cheer by real cheerleaders from that august institution: Scooby Dooby Doo! NIU!) many of their games were televised. I have had way too many years of anatomy instruction to call something that is demonstrably NOT an elbow an elbow. In the event of an unfortunate (but not lethal) hit to what I will refer to as the groinical region, the players were instructed NOT to grab that area and writhe in pain. Grabbing that area on national TV does not move wealthy alumni to open up their checkbooks and write a number involving many zeroes. So the coaches told the players to grab their elbows instead. This fooled no one, including the groin. But it did allow the alumni to pretend Northern Illinois is still the classy place it was when they were students festooning every tree on the quad with toilet paper and to continue with their check writing. It’s not just college players, either. I certainly cannot define it but there is something about a humongously large human being making two zillion dollars per minute rolling around clutching what is supposed to be his elbow but what in reality is another region of his body entirely that strikes me as hilarious. I am not necessarily proud of this but there you have it. It’s not my fault. It’s in my genes.
Another instance when laughter takes over is when I lift something really heavy. The minute I hoist up a couch or, God forbid, a box of heirloom China, I start laughing. This is annoying on many levels. Firstly, it is very difficult to lift and laugh at the same time. Something has to give and what usually gives is my ability to hold onto the heavy object. So the poor person who is lifting the other part of the heavy object finds his load increasing by a factor of about ten. Secondly, my inability to lift is directly proportionate to the value of the item. I believe snowballing is the correct term here. The more I laugh, the more the object slips. The more the object slips, the more the other person has to lift. The more the other person has to lift, the more annoyed he gets. (It’s “he” because my female friends have learned to avoid helping me lift anything heavier than a bottle of Merlot. Fortunately, chivalry is not dead and my men friends will still help. But they’re getting wise.) And of course, if the item was really expensive, the whole process is just ratcheted up. My laughing does not negate the initial job of lifting. It still has to be done. With my defective inherited tendencies, though, the job takes on average three to four times as long because I have to set the heavy item down every couple of steps and try to get hold of myself. This is rarely successful. It’s not my fault. It’s in my genes.
P.S. To all you men out there who have been angrily thinking for three or four paragraphs, “A hit to the ‘elbow’ does NOT in any known universe qualify as a minor injury!” I say, ask your wife about labor. It might put things in perspective.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.