I am not even going to lie to you. I think I’m a little bit hilarious. Having a sense of humor while growing up among 5 siblings was a matter of survival. Being the baby of the family, Little me was especially vulnerable to their merciless mocking (my wardrobe choices back then sure didn’t help matters), and that made it all the more imperative that I knew how to strike back. I couldn’t strike back physically, though. My doughy body and lack of agility made sure that the only way I could hit my brothers and sisters was with my words. Thus, a smart ass was born.
Sarcasm is my strength. I’ve never been into puns or slapstick. I’ve always been your average, everyday, run of the mill, dry sense of humor kind of gal. That is, until I stood up for the first time after my surgery and watched as my catheter literally slid out of my urethra. And, it slid out easily, as if they had sprayed some Pam up there before they put it in. You can spend most of your damn female life worrying that your lady bits have an excess of width, but you never worry about how loose your urethra is, until a catheter just flies right out of it.
I laughed and laughed and laughed and urine was all over the floor. The nurses laughed. We all had a really good chuckle and it was great because immediately before that I was overcome with the fear and anxiety of how painful that first step might be. That first step was painful and scary, but all those feelings took a backseat to the laughter. That was the day I learned about the power of being silly.
My son was just 7 when all this calamity came into our lives. I knew the first sight of me struggling to get myself and my walker through the front door would be difficult for his wee little mind to digest. Right after I gave him a big, fat bear hug I told him to go get every last sticker in the house so he could decorate my walker. I looked absurd for the next month, just me and the Angry Birds hobbling around the neighborhood, but it made us laugh and we needed that more than we needed dignity.
Not long after I recovered from that surgery and I was up and around, we went on a road trip of some sort. I can’t remember where or when, but I have a crystal clear recollection of the gumball machine tucked away at an unspecified rest stop on Florida’s Turnpike that contained the head of Montgomery Burns. I wanted the head of Montgomery Burns. I would have settled for the head of Bart, Lisa, or Homer Simpson, but I really wanted Monty. I don’t know why, exactly, but it made me laugh, the idea that for just a few quarters I could have an exact replica of cartoon evildoer’s head dangling from a black cord. It was fun and stupid and it brightened my day.
In much the same way, buying my son a tornado machine and putting gold glitter and a tiny yeti in it brightened my day. My son came racing down the stairs and stared in amused confusion, “Why are you taking pictures of that? Did you put glitter in there?” Yes, son, I did put glitter in there and had a good laugh watching it swirl and was only mildly disappointed that the yeti was too heavy to take flight. I did it because it was silly, and stupid, and easier to handle than reading the news these days.
Socks have always been my daughter’s thing. Long socks, short socks, funny socks, colorful socks, for every holiday a sock. When she’d come home from college and I’d do her laundry I’d easily wash 57 or so socks. In that tangled mess of funny socks, not one of them made a pair, but they all made me laugh a little bit. For my birthday this year, she gave me my very first pair of funny socks. I literally cried from joy when I saw them. I wear them every chance I get.
I’ve run the gamut of undignified situations dealing with this tumor and each one was a precious gift that slowly knocked down the wall of vanity. From my gaping urethra to my concave hip and all the hot flashes and diarrhea in between, every single one of those events forced me to find humor in my humility. When you can find a way to laugh at yourself you’re more apt to be able to find a way to laugh at everything that comes your way. I can tell you from experience, it may not be the most dignified way to navigate life, but it sure as shit is way funner.