* Last Friday was our thirty-second anniversary.
Among Dr. M’s numerous assets are her prodigious problem-solving abilities. As a result of her innate brainpower, combined with its natural proclivity to function in that particular direction, and augmented by her family background in apartment rentals, the accomplished Dr. M is able to studiously examine malfunctioning gadgets, appliances and plumbing fixtures and, considerably more often that not…
On the other hand – and I am about to assert that there are two hands in this matter – Dr. M. is not – and is aware she is not – reliably counted on in our family for comedy. As an ability – I am arguing – comedy is the opposite of problem-solving, the joke-telling serving as a covering distraction from the fact that the “funny person” is unable to fix anything. That is the whole point – aside from ”Look at me!” – of being funny: People laugh, and forget you’re incompetent. At least in theory.
This dichotomy appears to be the “Rule of Thumb” in these matters: “Problem-solver” – not funny – “Funny” – unhelpful in virtually every imaginable regard. (Generalizations, it’s true, but still surprisingly accurate.)
As you may have noticed, this blog rarely, if ever, dispenses marital advice. Consider this an exception: If you are looking for a mate, it is best to complement your proclivities with a partner whose natural proclivities are the opposite. You do not need two problem-solvers in one family – that’s just a waste. Nor do you need two comedians who, when something breaks, will simply look at each other and shrug, and then maybe joke about it. Though to no practical avail, however, as the thing, whatever it is, is still broken. (And most likely laughing at you!)
All this leading to the story’s “turnaround”, that being the enormous surprise I experienced this morning when Dr. M, for the second or third time in our marriage – we can neither of us remember which –
Said something funny.
During breakfast, I was reporting on a TV debate I had watched the night before when Dr. M was out at a meeting (though she would never have watched it in a million years, her passed-along familial belief being that in a debate, “We like one side to win, and the other side to die!”, and that was unlikely to take place in this situation.)
The two hour-and forty-five minute debate (I watched almost all of it) concerned the (to a few, still controversial) issue of evolution. The participants were the Best-Selling Christian author Ken Ham and the Emmy Award-winning educator Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”), the debate held at the “Creation Museum” at Petersburg, Kentucky. (Which, to me, appears to be not exactly “Neutral Territory”, though, to their credit, no one in the audience shouted, “You’re going to burn in hell, Billy Boy!” at the “Science Guy”, which, to me, displayed admirable restraint.)
Anyway, my “debate report”, as is my habit, led me to maneuver the conversation to an associated area I knew something about (I rarely - and who would? – maneuver the conversation into areas in which I am ignorant, although sometimes, it turns out I know less about the subject than I originally believed.)
The associated “area in question” was the play (1955) and subsequent feature film (1960), Inherit The Wind, which, “on point”, involved the dramatized retelling of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial”, wherein a Tennessee schoolteacher, in violation of state law, taught the “Theory of Evolution” to his High School science class.
I had hoped to obtain credit and adulation for naming the original Broadway stage star of Inherit The Wind, whom I correctly identified as the celebrated actor Paul Muni. I endeavored to win further approval and admiration by appending this little known but fascinating factiod:
“Unfortunately, he fell off the stage.”
To which Dr. M quietly inquired,
My reaction began with a momentary silence. Then I looked at her to make sure I was eating breakfast in the right house. Then I laughed. Then I laughed harder. And then, there were torrents of tears cascading down my shocked and utterly incredulous chuckling cheeks.
“Unfortunately, he fell off the stage.”
(I immediately imagined theater patrons sitting in the audience nudging each other, indicating, “Here it comes.”)
I could barely believe it! Dr. M had made a joke! A monumentally silly joke! And it was absolutely hilarious!
Problem-solvers are not supposed to do that.
And yet…she just did!
For the second or possibly third time in our marriage!
Do you know what that means?
If we make it to our “Golden Anniversary”, there will probably be another one!
I can’t wait!