Getting the Joke
Looking back, I think it was the Kardashian covers that began to sour my relationship with American Vogue. But the death knell finally rang when Grace Coddington, the incandescently creative fashion director, left the magazine last year. Her inspiring imagination had kept me tethered to my subscription, but when she departed I became nearly totally Anglophilic in my magazine reading. British Vogue, British Bazaar, UK Town and County and UK Country Living tickle my senses completely and prompt me to visit my local big box book store once a month in an effort to procure them. The recent covers of UK Bazaar have been beautifully irresistible and every time I finish UK Country Living I want to buy a pig.
A couple of weeks ago I approached the counter at the above mentioned store with my latest British issues. The young man who stood ready to take my money had a pleasant face and we smiled at each other in polite reserve. Then, all of a sudden, a hiccup escaped from his mouth with a sound worthy of a tree frog in summer. He looked horrified and I, politely, pretended not to notice. Then, as is the way of hiccups, another one followed, even louder than the last. I felt the corners of my mouth begin to twitch and I forced myself to meet the young man’s eye. He was trying not to laugh as well. Neither of us were successful. We both started to giggle, his laughter punctuated by continual hiccups that only increased in frequency and volume the more we both laughed. He was still laughing, and hiccuping, when I left and I laughed all the way to the car.
Let’s face it, human beings are funny. In appearance, few of us are supermodels (and frankly, with photoshop even the supermodels aren’t as super as we are led to believe). Most of us look funny. Stand naked in front of a full length mirror and tell me I’m wrong. We have quirky little fears, funny little habits. Take for instance the lady I watched at the gym the other day, walking in quick step round and round the track eating a large size bag of potato chips as she did so. I mean, funny, right? As for me, I am eternally grateful for hands-free phones in cars these days for it makes the fact that I talk to myself much less noticeable.
While it is less than a scientific measure of good character, I myself have never quite trusted someone incapable of laughing at themselves. Looking round the world today, I cannot conceive of a greater indicator of personal delusion that finding one’s every word or deed above the slightest humorous critique. To take oneself that seriously can, in direct opposition to one’s intention, lead one by the nose straight into buffoonery, a land where everyone gets the joke but you. Sad.
By way of illustration, The Songwriter and I were happily shopping last weekend in one of our favorite markets. Our arms laden with fresh fruit and flowers we turned to leave and saw a small crowd gathered round the doors. A storm of colossal proportions had blown up suddenly, rain was coming down in sheets and no one was eager to brave the deluge to get to their cars. I was impatient. I reminded The Songwriter that whenever we’re in Scotland we walk in the rain without complaint. He reminded me that we were not in Scotland at the moment and he was disinclined to get drenched whilst carrying a full bag of groceries. I tapped my foot. I sighed. Eventually, he gave in and we made a run for it, me squealing all the way. I got in the car first and my eyes immediately fell on the door lock. I can tell you it took every inch of compassion and good sense in my possession not to lock that door and watch The Songwriter pitch a fit in the rain. It would have been funny, right? Oh, it would have been funny. Even he would have agreed, though perhaps a bit later. I am lucky to share life’s journey with someone who gets the joke. Never trust a man who doesn’t.
“If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don't bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he's a good man.”