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Smile, Laugh and do the Naked Polka
Oh, you know who they are. The stoic, rigid, turtle mouthed people who take life so seriously. They would die a thousand deaths if they let their hair down and smiled, laughed or heaven forbid did the naked polka. Not me…I can’t fit into that kind of a mold. I smile everyday, laugh too many times to count and have been known to frolic Au natural while my wife rolls over in hysterics at my boyish antics. Is this behavior too silly for a man of my age? Why, would it be is my answer? Did anyone get hurt? Perhaps there’s been some visual harm, but other than that it is a continuation of my repertoire surrounding a comedic life.
From the time I was a small child, I have always cracked jokes. An air of levity is good for the soul and heart. Amusing people feeds my very being. Heck, even my dogs get in on the act when they know we are merely fooling around. Apparently, animals are not immune from playfulness either and they too enjoy a good time. Pay close attention to the zany actions of monkeys and you’ll soon realize where the phrases, “Monkey business,” or don’t “Monkey around” comes from.
We've all been around them. They are the matriarchs, wardens and joke police who show up at most parties and gatherings. They hang with one or two like-minded individuals and are unapproachable. Their body language alone speaks volumes, with postures erect, faces frozen with a perpetual frown and the dreaded turtle mouth. Their whispered conversations take place in monotones, as sober eyes scan the crowd in judgmental disapproval of the whimsical demeanor other guests display while making a spectacle of themselves. Without speaking a word, you can still hear them saying “Dear God, why don’t they grow up?”
Yes, we do live in a serious world. There are murders, riots, wars, terminal illnesses, chronic physical and mental pains, poverty, hunger and a myriad of occurrences which could lull almost anyone into an eternal state of depression…but that is life. Life isn’t always fair, and it isn’t always doom and gloom, and it isn’t always sheer elation. Life is what we make of it. The path of life I choose is the one that plants a grin on a sad kisser. My favorite saying is, “Turn that frown upside down.” Remember, smiling is good for your facial muscles. I had a New England snob tell me once, “Oh Dennis, you think everything is a joke.” My immediate and reactionary retort was, “Well Cheryl, I would rather laugh than cry,” at which point Ms. Stoic turned and stormed away. That’s the philosophy I subscribe to and I know, no matter what, it will never change.
Critics, naysayers, psychologists, and psychiatrists will all point out that humor is a form of covering up some deep-seated psychological trauma, abuses or loss. My answer is swift and contrite…so what? Who cares if a comedienne uses laughter and jokes to mask a certain pain? Is it any skin off of your nose? Believe me, I know loss. I have experienced deaths of loved ones, physical and mental abuses, financial crisis, chronic illness, lost relationships, and broken hearts and on and on the list goes. My point is we all have choices. For me, I would rather rejoice in the beauty of life and honor it by making 9 out of 10 jovial, than dishonor my existence by playing to the gloomy Gus’ of the world.
The first date my wife and I went on was to an A & W Root Beer/Carhop stand. For those who aren’t from the States, A & W restaurants have the best root beer floats and super Papa, Mama and Junior hamburgers going. Plus, curbside service is nostalgic. She may not appreciate me writing this, but on our very first date and listening to one of my stories, Cathy (my wife’s name) literally had a urinary incontinent moment coming home in the car…cloth seats and all. So now I knew because, after all, knowledge is powerful and I was acutely aware of Cathy’s love for hamburgers. It was a hot summer day when I telephoned her home (she still lived with her mother) and invited her up for a cookout of grilled hamburgers. I can still hear the girlish giggle as she eagerly replied, “Yes, I’ll be right up.” My driveway was secluded on the top of a hill. The summer day was hot and humid as I stood to face the driveway in a pink flowered apron, spatula in hand. I asked, “How do you like your burgers?” as Cathy exited her car. She replied, “Well done please.” “No problem” I answered, turning around revealing my bare butt. The burgers burned and we haven’t been apart since.
My wife is half Slovak so it is a ritual of sorts that on Sunday mornings we religiously listen to the Polish music show on our local radio station. I am a nut and I admit it freely. I will wear underwear on my head, make faces, adorn myself in nonsensical attire and never do I take myself too seriously. First I will laugh at myself and then I will laugh with…not at…others. Oh, and another thing, when the Polish music is playing, I exit the shower performing none other than the “Naked Polka.” It is so freeing, emotionally and spiritually.
My advice to those who have a facade of seriousness as their aura is to simply relax, have fun, smile broadly and by all means at least try doing the naked polka! We all need less rigidity and more flexibility on this planet and when I'm fully aware that when I die, people will be saying, “Boy did Dennis make me laugh!” To me, I think that is a great epitaph!