Sarcasm and Dad Jokes

I’m not a conventional person. In fact, I go significantly far out of my way not to be. I always joke that I don’t think before I speak, I prefer to be as shocked as everyone else by what I will say. When someone says “I think I know you” it’s not uncommon for me to reply:

“Oh, do you watch porn?” or “Ever see Cops?”

Most people can handle it, I’m big enough to avoid problems if they can’t. Sarcasm is a wonderful thing but it can be lost on the weak-minded. More than one person has walked away from me shaking their head in confusion or disbelief. It’s harmless fun for me, I amuse myself while exposing the lack of sense of humor in others.

Today I volunteered at the local food pantry. I committed to the director when I moved here that I would do it every week for at least the winter and as often as I could the rest of the year. I am one of the only volunteers that work every week, the other volunteers have schedules like the 2nd and 4th week etc. Long story short, I meet new volunteers every week. Nice people, all townsfolk, all of them knew my father. Today I was with 4 complete strangers, and I was the only male. One of the nice ladies said, “you look familiar”. Without hesitation, I replied,

“you probably saw me on America’s Most Wanted.” She wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. Until another woman, who apparently knew who I was said to her

“This is ____ ___________’s son.” The startled woman said “Oh, I see. Well, that explains it. Your Dad was a smartass as well. Nice man though.” She was smiling so it was ok.

Sarcasm, tough love, finding humor in inappropriate situations, it’s a long family legacy that I embrace. I come from a long line of smartasses and it’s a proud tradition. We’re also a rugged bunch. We don’t grieve for long. We adapt to whatever happens. We can take a hit, get up and wipe the blood from our chins and move on to the next fight. My wife, on the other hand, is not at all like this, nor is her family. When we had children I knew that our parenting styles would be a constant source of disagreement. Fortunately, we found balance.

My sarcasm and inappropriate sense of humor would prove to be a dominant family trait. Despite my wife’s best efforts to suppress it, my children have warped senses of humor and are hopeless wiseasses. It really infuriates my wife. When my oldest daughter was in third grade her teacher said to her “Oh, I see you speak sarcasm young lady.” My daughter replied

“It’s my second language.”

Her teacher was not amused, based on the hot stare she gave us at the parent-teacher conference. My wife gave me the hairy eyeball.

My oldest son had a parent-teacher conference soon after. The teacher remarked that when she would tell a joke that was of a more adult nature in class, only my son would be snickering in the back row. She wanted to know what kind of household we were providing for our children. I immediately shot back, asking her what kind of jokes she was telling in class. Once again my wife gave me the hairy eyeball.

It wasn’t as if our children were raised at an Eddie Murphy concert. It was just our way of preparing them for the world. I believed in taking away the stigma of things by talking about them instead of sheltering them from it. I would make concessions to my wife and make sure to emphasize caution and be ready for the worst in people but at the end of the day, they knew what the world was even if it was through bad jokes.

One incident comes to mind, because I will never live it down, was when my youngest daughter (# 4) was 7 years old. We lived in a massive apartment complex and my wife and I was outside talking to a new resident. A very reserved woman with an obnoxious little dog. We were being neighborly, making small talk when my youngest ran up and said “Dad, can I go to the playground and meet Cassie?” The playground was well beyond our sight but she was a trustworthy kid so I said’

“Ok, but tell me what you do if a man pulls up in a white van.”

“Hold out for the big Snickers” she replied.

“Right. Have fun.”

I looked over and my wife was livid. Our new friend’s jaw was on the ground. I said, “Say what you want, she gets it.”

images (6)

There are so many more examples but I won’t bore you. The point is that my kids have grown to be self-sufficient and strong people. And they are good citizens with solid values. They had the misfortune of seeing their parents struggle with money, go through a foreclosure and a bankruptcy, and their father seriously ill. But they learned from it and they make me so proud. I will help them with anything, but they don’t need it.

The other night a friend of mine asked me how my oldest was doing. I told him how well things were going for her. Graduated top of her class, new job, boyfriend and a new puppy… He cut me off. “Boyfriend?” What’s that like for him? I can’t imagine how scared he is of you.”

“You would think”, I replied, “but if he fucks up he should be more scared of her.” She is strong and tough and doesn’t need me unless her car breaks down. That’s how I want her to be. That’s how she was raised.

Last night she called while walking her dog. She had been fighting with her boyfriend lately so I asked her how they are getting along. She explained that it was fine, she wasn’t happy with how he’s acting but she’s being grown up about it. She told me if need be she’d take her puppy and move back in with her Grandmother. I told her that I was proud of her, that she didn’t turn out like the Disney Princesses she grew up with, helpless damsels waiting for a man on a horse to rescue her. Her reply was priceless.

“Nope, I’d tell him to get the hell off of my new horse.”

God, I love her. Even if she is just like me.

he’s back

I’ve been away

but now I’m back

doin’ what I do

don’t give me no flack

I may act nice

hell, I really am

but know the difference

between kindness and weakness

A low profile I may keep

A good distance as well

but backed into a corner

I’ll make your life hell

I know what is what

and who knows who

aggravate and abuse me

you will never outlast me

my resolve is steady

my eyes on the prize

heaven forbid

if you underestimate me

https://lindaghill.com/2017/12/27/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2018-rules/

 

 

same root, very different outcome

humiliationHumiliation describes a strong feeling of embarrassment or mortification — like that time in sixth grade when your mother wiped your face and called you “honey bunny” in front of all your friends. Humiliation comes from the Latin word humiliare, which means “to humble.”
Am I the only one that finds it interesting how humble could evolve into the exact opposite?
A person in possession of humility recognizes their place in the world, does not overstate their existence, displays a modicum of reverence for those around and is prone to acceptance. This person, ideally, would be a total failure if he lowered himself to the point in which he deliberately embarrassed another person. It’s an almost perfect metaphor for the decline of modern society. The only flaw is that most people don’t display humility. A significant amount of people, much to my chagrin, are actually capable of great cruelty.
I was inspired to delve into this moral distinction by a post from a dear friend who is grappling with some powerful emotions, brought on by a handicapped parking spot and the chaos that ensued. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/73254859/posts/1731630483
She was brought into a discussion in which a person with a Handicap placard on their car was confronted by an angry note on her car. You don’t look sick, save a space for someone who needs it (or something to that effect). This brought out so many questions for her. It is a big issue for her, she has an invisible illness, a handicap placard, and a high likelihood that it will happen to her someday.
Why can’t people mind their business?
Is it ok for a 9 yr old to verbally defend the parent?
Do people even understand invisible illness?
Why do people feel compelled to lash out?
Is it acceptable to respond emotionally, with possible profanity?
And perhaps most important…how would a genuinely good person handle it?
What impressed me about this post is that, of all of the important issues brought to the surface, her biggest concern was that she, if in this situation would react the right way. What is the moral high ground here? I have some thoughts on this.
If someone were to leave such a note on my car, I would be frustrated at the anonymous, passive-aggressive nature of it. If someone were to call me out personally as I stepped out of my car, in my nice reserved parking space, having the balls to walk “normally” I may have a different reaction. I would like to think that I would gracefully respond along the lines of “I don’t have to have an IV bag to have this spot”. But I may also respond with a firm “mind your own fucking business”. One is more acceptable than the other but the second one is not wrong, it’s just not productive.
The bottom line is that it’s not your journey, it’s the attackers. You can’t think for them, you can’t make them think at all and you can’t control their own lack of control when they speak. I go back to my original question, how does humility evolve into humiliation? It doesn’t. Humble people, who make up a small but significant portion of the population wouldn’t attack an easy target. Most people are not prone to humility, but instead are quick to speak while slow to think; ignorant, as in uneducated, about invisible illness; and too free to offer up unwanted opinions. Their ability to humiliate another is truly alarming. This is only a microcosm of society in general.
I told my friend much of what I have said here. That there are no easy answers, that in the end, it is up to other people to learn how to interact with the rest of the world. We can’t change the behavior but we can control how we react to them. I don’t think I helped her much. After all, she knew the answer. Telling someone off isn’t going to do anything to stop the problem. Not saying anything is like swallowing a bitter pill. What do you do?
My father always said of fighting “If you punch an asshole in the mouth, you may feel better but he’s still an asshole”. That is an unfortunate reality. To walk away is harder, especially when you have been victimized and marginalized. A strong person can do it but could not be faulted for lashing out. It doesn’t feel good no matter how you handle it.
So we go back to the other person’s journey. What makes people offer up unsolicited, hurtful opinions? A lack of empathy? A lack of knowledge? Poor upbringing?
D) All of the above.
People are mean, looking for a way to make themselves feel better about themselves, finding their voice by silencing another’s. The only way to change this is to be better. My friend started and ended with that. As a good person, she sought the means to deal with a bad person. Therein lies the answer. Slowly, one person at a time, answer bad with the good, negative with positive and eventually you will enact real change.
If we heed “be kind, for everyone you find is fighting a hard journey”, and follow Gandhi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world” we will see change. I don’t know how many generations it will take but it will happen.

the power of music

 

I did some work for a guy the last couple of days. It was a nice opportunity to dabble in my old profession, make a few bucks in the process. It put some wind under my sails to do it again. The only drawback is that I had a 3-hour drive ahead of me. It’s not too bad, I can do that drive non-stop if I have my faithful companion Spotify with me.

I strapped on my seatbelt, made sure the lid on my coffee was on tight and opened the app. I was about to select one of my new Playlists (I have been a Spotify junkie this past year with all of the driving) when I saw an option for “Your favorites for 2017”. Wtf, I put it on shuffle and promised myself that I would listen without skips. How would I know that my drive would end up not as a tedious straight line between 2 points, but instead an emotional, unflinching, and cathartic journey of my last year in song.

The music took me away. I went down to the River with Bruce only to find that it was the River of Dreams by Billy Joel. I waded in looking for answers, found none and on the way out Stevie Nicks warned me that taking my love down would cause a Landslide.

I gathered my strength to climb the embankment and took a breath, which was painful, I have been thinking about my wife and the pending divorce, feeling bad about it, and Rascal Flatts didn’t hold back from reminding me of What hurts the most. Dave Mason softened the blow a bit by pointing out that, at the end of the day, We just disagree.

Hoping for a break the next song delivered with a jam session as the Allman Brothers took me Southbound, I jammed on the dash like John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles doing the Messaround by Ray Charles. I got to thinking about how much the world misses John Candy.

mess around

On the theme of days gone by, Al Stewart brought me back in time to the Year of the Cat. A simpler time indeed. Tom Petty would then tell me all about his American Girl, and then make it impossible to drive the speed limit when he offered up You wreck me. The wailing guitar and the pounding drums urged me to go faster, faster you son of a bitch! But alas the car in front of me didn’t see the urgency or hear the song.

After I slowed down a little, the Indigo Girls brought me a little Closer to Fine but I was in a funk.  I again thought of the failed marriage and the Eagles were there to remind me that, at the end of the day, I gave her the Best of my love.

Nearing the end of my journey, I found myself teary eyed, reaching towards the heavens, while trying to drive of course, hands to God as Mondo Cozmo powerfully, with vocals and harmonies that filled my car and and the world around it, implored God to Shine his light down upon us. An emotional wreck, I pawed at my eyes and Journey had the nerve to ask me Who’s crying now? It’s me, alright? You got me.

Fortunately, Michael Franti, my barefoot Brazilian Messiah, took it to a metaphysical level and asked all of the right questions, said all the right things as he explained why It’s good to be alive today (my blog URL btw).

Then I pulled in my driveway. My physical journey over for the day, my emotional one only beginning. This playlist was my year in review. It nailed it.

I’ve had love and I’ve lost it.

I’ve sung and danced, and I’ve drummed with delight and cried my ass off on the same steering wheel.

I know what I need to do just not how to do it.

I’ve been to the River and found nothing but dirty water.

I’ve reached to the sky and found heaven right in front of me.

And I’ve gotten behind the wheel, gotten the urge to go somewhere and God help the bastard in front of me if they don’t let me pass them.

It is good to be alive today.