Laughing matters


Some things are no laughing matter.  I've been making fun of news headlines for a few years now, and there are some things you just can't make funny.  Actually, it's just one thing: Death.  Any headline about a murder or a war or a plane crash or a natural disaster or AIDS or cancer... you just can't touch those.

In 2004, a tidal wave hit Aceh and killed upwards of 200,000 people.  That figure was reached only after body count was tallied over several days following the disaster.  Headline after headline reported updated figures.  I didn't know any of those people, so the biggest tragedy for me was that there were no good headlines for weeks just when the world (or at least my MySpace friends) needed them more than usual.

There are exceptions, of course.  For example, any Darwin Award-winning demise recuses itself from the discussion in which we treat death as a subject with much gravitas.  And when a celebrity dies, they're less a person and more an object created by marketers.  After all, they make such a spectacle of themselves in life that it's hard to find any respect for them in death, so they're fair game.

By contrast, as a subject, cancer kills everything, even opportunities for great puns.  I only got to use cancer as a punchline once.

When I was in high school, I was dating this fairly country girl named Sally (not her real name) from a very country family.  Any serious description I might try here will sound like a comedic attempt at hyperbole whether that's what I aim for or not, so I'm going to reign things in as much as I can here.  They were nice folks who pretty much all lived within about 500 feet of one another.  They used to have get-togethers all the time for birthdays, etc., and I was over there for one of these one afternoon.

Sally and I had been dating for about six months or so by then, so the family was pretty comfortable around me, and I was with them as well.  Of course, Sally and I still loved to fool around every chance we could.  We were young and stupid, and she ended up with a lot of hickies.  She did a pretty good job of covering these up around her family most of the time, but it was a warm June afternoon, and she wasn't wearing anything with much material, so between that and the ponytail, a relatively fresh hickie was visible.

One of her aunts spotted it.  "Oooooo, a hickie!" and started giving her a hard time, mostly in good-natured teasing.  Her grandmother and another aunt joined in along with a couple of the little cousins by this point.  One of the aunts said jokingly, "You know them things cause cancer, don't you?"

I jumped in and said, "Well, I hope she doesn't have breast cancer!"

There was silence for about a second and a half, then they busted up laughing.

Like most of the ADD crap I usually pull, this wasn't a premeditated line that I had been waiting to spring at just the right moment, but they slapped me on the back like it was and that I had the balls to pull a wisecrack like that.

And that's the last time I got a laugh out of the word cancer.


Copyright 2007 Alexplorer.
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