March 9, 2007

Laughing at the wrong time again

By Al Carlos Hernandez

Now I know I’m wrong, but there is something inside of me and no doubt many of you, that makes you laugh when someone trips and falls down. It’s not that I don’t have any empathy or are concerned if they are truly injured, I am, but the indignity of it all shows me that the universe has a sense of humor. Most accidents happen when folks are distracted, drunk, wearing brand new shoes, or all of the above.

An example of this is, once while driving I saw a teenager, balancing a huge bag of groceries riding fast down a slight hill on a bike; up ahead on the street was a wide drainage grid, maybe this guy had an Ipod or was on a cell phone but, he hit the grid his front tire got stuck, he did a few high summersaults in the air, kicked a few air borne oranges mid flight as the grocery bag exploded, while the bike stuck like a dart, as he continued his mid flight home. Thankfully, he landed on his ample rear, hopefully on a loaf of bread, or a pound of hamburger and he was fine, but I was not.

I slipped down in the driver seat eyes blurry with tears, stomach hurt for a few days, forgot where I was going so I went home just to tell everybody the story…Wait, wait OK, like its my fault the dude crashed. I know I should have stopped and give him peer counseling, sang him Kumbya or whatever, but at least I was cautious in not running over his grapes.

I don’t know why, but things are funnier when you are in places where you’re not supposed to laugh, like court, church or a funeral home. Don’t know about you, but I come from a family where if they say don’t do it, guess what, it’s going to happen.

The last person you ever wanted to take into a serious no smiling place was my Mother, Mama Rose. She would always say something hysterical or give you one of those looks that could set you off. Once Mom started with the giggles it became a firestorm.

My most memorable Mama Rose moment was when we all were attending a funeral of a distant elderly friend of the family. Bereaved folks lined up near the end of the service to view the deceased and pay last respects. Mom came back slowly apparently overcome with tears, upon closer inspection she was beside herself with laughter. Dad took her hand and drew her close, he asks “Honey, why are you laughing?” Mom impudently looked at him and said point blank, why does she need to wear glasses? Needless to say our whole row left on our own accord before we were asked to do so.

I’m like Mama Rose.

Then there was the time when my sister made the mistake of inviting my brothers and I to watch her new boyfriend competing at a track meet, he did the high hurdles. He was doing great running really, really fast he was winning until the final stretch, when he fell forward with a face plant, and according to my brother skidded a couple of feet on his forehead, his legs bent over the top of his head flicking his ears, while his arms flailed behind him like a carp. We were escorted off the field.

A good friend told me a story once about riding a local bus, a woman gets on, pays her fare and the jerk driver nails the accelerator; the poor lady did about 200 little Michael Jackson Moonwalk steps backwards down the tiny isle, trying to maintain her balance as the bus took off savagely into commute traffic. She made it all the way to the back of the bus, but unfortunately, fell into the back stairwell doing a handstand. I surmise that many passengers that day had to go back home to change undergarments, while the reluctant lady acrobat no doubt had her hair redone.

The better dressed the person the funnier the fall. If you ever had a chance to peep a suited business man taking a header or a debutante taking a booty bounce ride down a flight of stairs your life has been enriched. The ambulatory mishaps of the paid and pompous helps to make modern life worth living.

I consciously draw the laugh line at babies, elders, physically challenged, and small kids falling and getting injured, no doubt inattentive caregivers need to shoulder some of that blame.

“Everything is funny just as long as it happens to somebody else”.

-Will Rogers

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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