Laughing Matters

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As I stepped outside in my slippers on a recent brisk Sunday morning to fetch the newspapers, a group of runners, showing me up with their early energy, jogged past, leaving a loud conversation about world politics in their wake.

“The bottom line,” one guy shouted to his huffing companions …  I paused mid-shuffle in my Uggs waiting for him to breathe and complete his thought … “is that it’s a mystery to me.”

Him and everyone else.

That’s why we need “the simple machine,” as a former editor of mine liked to advise. Take this past year. We expended a lot of unnecessary furrowed-brow debate over so many issues that were quite simple.

Among them: Mega sports stars shouldn’t be considered role models for anything more than athletic prowess, having a little Hollywood in glamour-starved Detroit has benefits beyond the usual bean-counting measures, and humor really does help “restore sanity.”

Good reason, then, to end the year on a light note.

How? “Go through the motions, and the emotions will come,” I’ve been told. To put it another way, rehearse happiness.

“A day spent practicing gets you closer to accomplishing something,” noted choreographer Twyla Tharp said during a recent appearance in metro Detroit. Practice fun.

Like runners’ hearts, humor needs a workout. Use it or lose it.

For our annual gift guide, we exercised frivolity by devising slightly irreverent categories (elitist and rug rat) to describe those on your gift list. You can just imagine the playful labels that got left on our cutting-room floor.

With six tongue-in-cheek personality types in mind, our staff hit the road in search of retail inspiration. The result: a mountain of “presents” in our offices, where they attracted admirers.

Take “Kelly.” Her long, flirtatious eyelashes and tawny color had us beguiled. Did I say that she’s a giraffe — a 4-foot-tall stuffed one? She didn’t make the cut for the trip to the photo studio (too tall for a still life), but she didn’t make it back to the Village Toy Company in Grosse Pointe, either. A staffer’s credit card intervened.

Kelly quickly became a Facebook darling and made guest appearances in cubicles around the building, sometimes wearing clothing. She was sporting a purple cardigan last I saw her. At this writing, she has vanished, leaving only a ransom-note reminder of a few giddy days.

The laughter and faux intrigue she inspired are evidence that adults are big kids. Most adults, that is. Some people (we all know a few) can’t surrender to silliness. Pity them.

You’ve heard the expression: sending a boy to do a man’s job? Maybe that’s not a negative. In this month especially, we can learn from children.

As the carol goes, “Let your heart be light.”

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