Do you know what I’ve discovered? I love the way the British say: “Are ya havin’ a laff?” while their words transition from a low pitch to a screechy high note on the word “laff.” I have a friend who is British and she speaks about laughter as if it were as ubiquitous as air: “Ah was just havin’ a laff before I rang ya” (I’m sure when she reads this, she’s going to say, “Oh, bloody hell, Eleana; I’m from London, not Belfast—that doesn’t sound a thing like me!”). I’ll definitely have a laugh at that statement. She cracks me up every time I talk to her because laughter comes so easily to her throat from the wellspring of her being, and I’ll take laughter wherever I can get it—from a knock-knock joke to a comedy club. That is why, when the Muppets put out a movie after a twelve-year hiatus, I was there.
On the surface I am Miss Piggy. My motto in life is: “If you’ve got it—flaunt it; if you own it (jewels that is), wear it!” When I was looking for a man to marry many years ago, I chose one who preferred diamonds over sports, and he’s never disappointed me regarding the baubles. Consequently, whether I’m grocery shopping or going to the opera, I’m always “blinged” to the max. I never leave the house without looking like a million bucks and it doesn’t matter what size I am—I always think I’m sexy. I’ve been a size 6 and I’ve been a size 20, but I strut my “stuff” and “drop it like it’s hot” every day. To “represent” my black, bold, and beautiful self the bling is a given, the high heels are standard fare, and the wigs can rival Dolly Parton’s collection any day.
My alter-ego, Miss Piggy (who has a heart of gold), tries to control everything and everyone (including God) to keep her life in perfect working order, and she often fails—as do I—but it is who we are. I mean, that’s who I am on the outside.
GOOGLE IMAGES/Miss Piggy (Angelic and “Drop it like it’s hot”)
On the inside, I’m Gonzo the Great who, when he made his first appearance on the Muppet scene, was called the “Whatever” or a “Weirdo.” Underneath my Miss Piggy facade, I’m a little bit frazzled, more than a little frenetic in thought, and I don’t quite fit in. In what was thought to be the Muppet’s final movie in 1999, the fans discovered that Gonzo was an alien from a faraway planet in space and was of a different species. Gonzo is never afraid to try anything, he’s super intellectual, and he is optimistic about everything. When Gonzo was asked by a human actor on one of the Muppet shows, “Do you really think this (a Gonzo stunt) will work?” Gonzo replied, “No! Isn’t it terrific?!” Take Gonzo and mix him with a Miss Piggy temperament of “you mess with me and your ass is grass” and that is “moi”!
Google Image, Gonzo the Great
The Muppet movie came out Thanksgiving weekend, and I pulled my husband (WW) out of the bed, kicking and screaming, early Sunday morning to see the 9:45 a.m. showing of what he considers a kid’s movie. My theory was that we’d beat the church crowd and any little kids who were probably up but still eating breakfast. I figured most of the kids would come to the gazillion showings after lunch. I was wrong and so were the handful of other adults who were Muppet lovers. The theater was wall to wall munchkins—some who were already screaming at a decibel only dogs can hear. The “child-free” adults tried to protect each other by sitting together in the middle two rows, so that we didn’t have to deal with jack-in-the-box babies going in and out of the rows having to go to the bathroom every five minutes.
I haven’t been in a movie theater in a couple of years (I can’t deal with the masses), so I’d forgotten all the necessary rhythms and pacing needed to survive a 90 minute movie in a crowded theater. Consequently, I made a major mistake when I tried to overcompensate for lack of sleep the night before and the lack of food that morning. When I got to the theater, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by ordering a large popcorn (I love the smell of movie popcorn) and a super large Coke to substitute for my breakfast and keep me alert (apparently, every little kid who came to see the movie had the same thought). The kids (or their nutty parents) and I overcompensated for food and drink that morning and we would all collide like a frantic Muppet scene before morning’s end.
Here’s the deal: I’ve gotten older and I am beginning to have old people problems. I now take a blood pressure pill combo that is just for African-Americans because we are prone to high-blood pressure as a race (no shit Sherlock!), and most BP meds aren’t effective on us (the medical community doesn’t know why—personally, I think it is a federalist plot—can we say Tuskegee Syphilis Conspiracy?). My BP meds have a really potent diuretic in them that gives this poor little Muppet exactly 20 seconds to make it to the nearest toilet. There can be no dawdling, no obstructions, and no hindrances. Of course if you’re an idiot and down a 64-ounce Coke during the first 30 minutes of a movie in a crowded theater, then you and your sorry-ass bladder deserve what you get.
Right after Kermit said that the Muppets’ raison d’etre was to bring laughter to their audiences (but before it was revealed what happened to the antagonist who was trying to steal their joy), I had no choice but to pop up out of my seat, leap over the long legs in the six seats to my left, push my way through the crowd, fly down the ramp, and into the lady’s room at the speed of one of the chickens trying to escape an ill-fated meal prepared by the Swedish Chef.
Google Image/Swedish Chef
I barely made it! As I hopped, skipped, tacked, and danced my way toward one of the stalls in the crowded ladies room (why are there never enough bathrooms for women?), women and children giggled in recognition of my frenetic sphincter-squeezed, twisted thigh-dance as I blew past them screaming: “OUT OF MY WAY BABIES—GRANDMA’S COMIN’ THROUGH AND HER DAM’S A BURSTIN’!”
And that is what life will do to you: one minute you’re conquering the world as the sexy blinged-out Miss Piggy, and the next minute you’re in full-out Gonzo mode, knowing your plan is probably not going to work. But being able to laugh at yourself when the transition happens is one of the secrets to “getting over” in this life, the secret of harnessing joy, and the secret of not losing your mind or becoming a drug addict when life knocks the pee out of you. When I finally caught up with my husband waiting patiently at the exit, he looked at me with a straight face and asked: “Did everything come out all right”? We fell into glorious gales of giggles as we made our way home singing the Muppet theme song and asking each other: “Are you havin’ a laff”?
“Laugh at yourself first before anyone else can.” ~Elsa Maxwell
Google Image/Buddhist Nuns Laughing
Many years ago WW and I were in our favorite café in Tel Aviv eating lunch and laughing it up with friends of ours who had come to visit us from the States just to cheer us up. WW and I were living and working in Israel as expats and feeling really lonely and homesick. We were laughing about some insane predicament we’d found ourselves in as foreigners who could barely speak the language at the time. A regular Israeli customer of the café who had a rod up his ass (every race, religion, and gender has some of these types of people) came over to our table to loudly chastise us for laughing too exuberantly and allegedly disturbing his lunch. As he lit into us, he made sure the entire restaurant heard his righteous indignation as he summarily squelched our joy.
“What is it with you rude Americans that you feel the entire world needs to be a part of your conversation and laughter? Some of us are trying to eat in peace. Either quiet down or take it outside!”
We were all chagrined that our laughter had allegedly gotten out of hand, so we apologized and stripped the joy-laden topics from our conversation and proceeded to “whisper” about topics with muted colors, because none of us wanted to come across as the “ugly American.” What our angry Israeli dude didn’t know was that life had been really, really hard for WW and me during that season. An associate of our business had died a tragic death, we had the staff from Hell who seemed to mutiny every other day, our business had been bombed to smithereens, my husband had been shot at by terrorists, and we had almost lost our older daughter to meningitis. Being able to turn the dangerous and hard-living situations into stories of absurdity and laugh at them for the first time took away the mind-numbing nightmares and daily panic living in a country habitually at war with its neighbors. Seeing our best friends for the first time since leaving home was effervescent.
In any case, our humorless café dweller put a damper on what had been a day of joy and great fun. As my party left the restaurant, I remember looking back at the al fresco patio and furiously locking eyes with the angry diner. The rather large Israeli challenged me with his eyes, that if I showed one gesture of defiance, he would come out of the restaurant and kick my ass. After stuffing down my own anger and humiliation, and resisting the desire to “flip the bird” at the Israeli dude, I let it go, shook it off, and turned and walked away. Much later, that lovely café was blown to bits by a terrorist’s bomb around the same time of day we had eaten there in the past. I’ve often wondered if that fellow was there (all the diners were killed), and if the last thing he heard before he lost his life was “laughter” or the sound of his angry heart chomping on his falafel and salad.
I am discovering that life is all about joy! Life, in and of itself, is super hard and we don’t have much control over that. We do have control how we respond to life and therein lies the first step to joy! I wish I could do a “do-over” with my children in regard to this truth. I would drill this into their hearts and heads and I think it would make a difference this time.
- Life is “bat-shit,” crazy-hard and disappointingly mean, Babies. Get used to it, and get over it as fast as you can. Because just when you think you’re over the hurdle of one disaster, another one will kick your ass into next week. Life can turn on a dime like that—so rejoice whenever you can.
Google Image/Nuns laughing
- Instead of dwelling on the hardness of life, find the joy in the midst of it all and laugh until you pee your pants. You can always wash the pants, and your heart and those in your life will thank you for the joy you share with them. (If the people in your life don’t laugh, like the Israeli dude didn’t, then “let them go” because they are to be pitied!)
- As Christians, you need to know that Jesus was uproariously funny and had (has) a great sense of humor—his humor just got lost in translation by a lot of the people who claim to represent him. Anybody who would hang out with fishermen one minute and children the next, dine with tax collectors, prostitutes, and Roman soldiers had to have had a wild sense of humor and we inherit that humor at a very early age.
Google Image/Laughing baby
“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky
“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.” Abraham Lincoln
What makes YOU laugh?
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