I have always hidden behind humor as a way of mitigating anxiety and social insecurity. That said, in one-on-one interaction, there is little time where comedic infusion takes place. In this, it is needless to say that when my bride and I were dating, I was a riot, especially when we were out with friends. It didn’t matter the context, I seemed to be able to find a humorous slice in any situation. If it wasn’t a one-liner, there was always the over-the-top slapstick or silliness.
On one such occasion, Robyn and I were out with several other couples. We decided on a steakhouse for dinner and after a substantial wait to be seated, we arrived at our table. It was an enjoyable time and we were all having fun. We were seated at our table, the six of us, and our drinks came along with the standard slices of bread and such. After we had ordered and gotten settled, one of my friends took a bit of his soda down the “wrong pipe” as we like to say in the South. He tried his best to not cough loudly as to make a scene, so he coughed for thirty or more seconds with a stifled internal cough which made him turn red. The antics of this harmless cough were such that he looked as though he was about to either pass out from embarrassment or he had been possessed. I took the latter observation as an opportunity for comedic intervention.
In classic style and brogue accent, I yelled, “Get the Prrreist!” as if to indicate a Hollywood exercise was required. In the greatest of flamboyance, my hands spoke louder than my voice and I knocked over a full glass of soda into the lap of my beautiful girlfriend. It was no longer funny. She was drenched.
The laughing was done.
To add insult to injury an attempt to go out the back door to the car for a change of clothes was futile, as the emergency exit was locked. So, she and a friend traversed the full court of the other patrons as a runway model for Coca-Cola stains.
Fifteen minutes later, she returned and let’s just say, I calmed down a bit after that.
This story if just one of thousands of interesting events in my life. Most of all, as I remenise about these things I also evaluate truths about myself. Had someone asked me that night twenty-eight years ago if my humor reflected my true personality I would have said yes. But as I evaluate the deeper things of my life I am realizing more and more that I learned what to do to survive without knowing it. I learned to adapt to what worked socially, academically, and professionally never really considering ‘who’ I was.
These types of realizations come all the time our lives but this one is not only teaching me things about myself but is also teaching me about human nature and how societal (and religious) ideas are imposed without anyone seeing them. As I evaluate these thoughts and their implications I am better equipped to understand those around me, which helps me communicate and empathize at a deeper level. Let’s be honest, no one gets up each day and really cares to know silly details of the lives of other people, yet, we are drawn to them when they arrive. We feed on them without feeling the hunger. We are all starved for true acceptance and intimacy at any cost, even if it means at times, that we deny truth, deny morals, or deny who we really are.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to make people laugh. After all, I am the slayer of sadness. I enjoy humor and for the most part, have a knack for it. Yet I know that deep down it was a shield in my childhood. A partner in my youth, and an escape as an adult. So, am I humorous or is my humor me? It doesn’t really matter at this point, but I wish I could have been better equipped to see in the early days so I could have molded my use of gifts rather than being used by them.
Why does it matter? Because when I am comfortable, I am not very funny. As a matter of fact, when I am confident and secure, I am the most quiet person you will ever know. I can stare into the sky for hours and enjoy sitting in a room with others without hearing a word. That is the true me. Yet, that also has some unpacking to do.
Thankfully, I don’t find my identity in my personality or my talents, but in the promise of hope given to me by the One I call Lord. And though I am secure therein, I still fight the little boy inside of my mind that doesn’t know he’s grown yet and carries his baby pillow in his heart.
Rest a bit. It’s a restless world.
Believers, you know the truth. So let’s calm down and share our stories with each other. God is teaching me a lot about how His sovereignty works in the smallest of things. After all, what girl will stay with a guy who dowses her with soda that makes her have to parade through a busy restaurant? One who understands love and appreciates good humor, even when it nearly drowns her. As for my friend who choked? He still laughs about it today.