Jest For Success

Let’s face it; the world is in turmoil, and it might seem like there isn’t anything funny to think or talk about. But that isn’t true. Comic relief is all around us, just waiting in the wings. Have you seen the pictures online of people wearing shoes, coffee filters, old compact discs, diapers, or duct tape as face masks? Of course, these things don’t work, but the laughs they provide are priceless. 

There is no doubt that hard times can bring out the darkest of humor. Everyone knows that the coronavirus isn’t funny, and neither are its symptoms or effects. However, it is how we deal with what is left, the fallout, that seems to bring out the funny side of life in quarantine. It is either laugh at this stuff or spend your time searching for a looney bin. 

You don’t have to dig deep to find what keeps people laughing and being silly. It is all over the internet. Perhaps you might fancy the Pandemic Barbie, whose wardrobe comes complete with pajamas and a flask of wine or the new Lego set with very few pieces that showcase how the tiny Lego people practice social distancing.  

It was undeniable and a foregone conclusion that the meme makers and jokesters would bleed through. If you make people stay in their homes for weeks on end, suddenly the most mundane of things become insanely funny. Soggy cereal, oatmeal, and a lack of makeup don’t generally tickle most people. But let a talk show host ramble on about how they cope each morning with new additions and hacks to their breakfast line-up, and now it’s entertainment. Cottage cheese in your oatmeal, anyone?

And then there is the television host of a late show, who, with a straight face, quoted the New York Post which asked if the coronavirus can be spread through farts. Apparently, an Australian physician answered the question stoically and without emotion. He didn’t suggest that it was or wasn’t a possibility. He simply recommended social distancing and of course, keeping your pants on.

During times of quarantine, any thoughts of filtering a conversation have gone by the wayside. We have reduced our conversations to discussing the hows and whys of cutting our own hair and casually chatting about underwear issues that have popped up during quarantine. I couldn’t help but laugh when host Ryan Secrest mentioned on national television recently that he had taken a walk outside and was completely unaware of the fact that his underwear was on backward. Something felt different, he said, but he attributed it to being in quarantine too long. He did note that he corrected his mistake once he figured it out. Glad he let us in on that little gem.

Want more categories of folly? Look no further than when people talk about the excessive length of their hair and or the fact that they are too lazy to shave. YouTube videos have flourished with hair hackers narrating the how and why of each scissor stroke. The results of all that hacking are usually more than amusing, albeit a hair stylist’s nightmare to fix later. No wonder sales of scissors and shavers have spiked recently.

Even spam has gotten to be more light-hearted than usual and manages to provide a good laugh. The days of urging me to collect a zillion dollars from a Nigerian contact are gone. Now, the spam comes from stores that announce their newest and most desirable clothes are the half price ones offered just in time for an at-home date night. Was there a deadline for that? Sillier and even more amusing emails are beginning to go where store ads have boldly not gone before. These ads suggest that I should liven up my outdoor walks, bike rides, and yard work by shedding the jammies and exercise clothes. They think that their forward fashions will allow me to sparkle and shimmer in the neighborhood sunlight. Creative? Yes, indeed, but honestly, the only thing that shimmers more in the sun right now is the sweat from my constant outdoor activity and days spent indoors. More importantly, I wonder if these stores would take an even trade of toilet paper for a clothing purchase? 

And then there are the dogs. In my neighborhood, there are a lot of sluggish dogs who refuse to take another step. Their humans are pulling the leashes but nothing happens. The dogs are exhausted. There is no more barking going on. If they could talk, I know they would wish their humans would leave them alone. A walk is one thing, a marathon is quite another. Funny stuff.

Even virtual technology is not immune to the witty thoughts of a new kind of professionalism. Do we have to remind people that it looks a whole lot better to come out from under the bed covers and, perhaps, get completely out of bed to have a work Zoom session? Maybe the thought of getting dressed might help as well. 

But one of my biggest laughs came at my own expense. On a recent trip to the grocery store,  I found myself talking out loud to perfect strangers. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” I called out to no one in particular, my words muffled by the mask I was wearing.

I wasn’t raiding the aisles looking for scraps of toilet paper or bins of sanitizing wipes. I wasn’t even trying to work undercover and steal hand sanitizer from someone else’s safely sanitized cart. I was buying ice cream. Two half gallons of it. Comfort in a container. My guilty pleasure. For some reason, I was behaving like I was buying pallets of it and then airdropping it to my house. A panic buy of epic proportions in my mind. The irony of it all made me snicker. Like a regular sneeze or a cough to clear my throat, I was just keenly aware of everything around me. I was afraid someone would say something about my purchase. I laughed, and I couldn’t stop, and it felt so good.

Weeks of pent up emotions came out in a hearty belly laugh. No one cared that I purchased some ice cream to help cope with the effects of this pandemic. They were doing the same thing.

If I realize anything at all, it is that jokes and quips and funny statements help relieve the boredom, anxiety, and loneliness. We all know about social distancing, hand washing, wearing face masks, and the necessity of kindness and community awareness. I am not doing weird things like applying shoe polish to my gray roots or using a Sharpie to fill in the gaps for highlights and lowlights. 

I hope there will always be something, anything, to help lighten the mood when issues and daily life become challenging, hard to handle, and overwhelming. I know the amusing emails, texts, and calls have helped me get through this avalanche of uncertainty. But one thing is for sure. I know that even if there isn’t much to laugh about, at least I have ice cream. 

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