Skip nasty cracks; pick nose instead
At no time is it more important to laugh than during an election year. It’s the only thing that will keep most of us from a total and complete meltdown.
Take last week, for example. Following a convention-ending speech by G.W. Bush, our newsroom hit the streets to find out what folks thought about the president’s first four years in office. Of the five who responded, one man from Yuba City said he wished the president had “rotted inside his mother’s womb.”
“Geeze,” I wondered, as I read the “Heard on the street” Page One piece with the rest of you in the morning. “Why would we allow something so vile and so hateful to appear in our newspaper?”
When I got to work I asked Editor Richard Somerville about it, and he said the comment should not have been published and that a lack of communication between him and the news desk had resulted in the error in judgment.
That’s fine. Mistakes happen. People are human. We hopefully learn from our mistakes and move on.
But I couldn’t let the man’s comments just pass. This was the president he was talking about. A human being. A man we’ve entrusted to make decisions most of us wouldn’t want to make. The commander in chief of the most powerful nation on Earth.
And he should have “rotted inside his mother’s womb?”
What would cause a man to utter such a thing? The only clue I got was his residency. I’ve lived in Yuba City before, and while Rand McNally has often referred to it as the worst place to live in the country, it’s not all that bad. Marysville is worse. So is Olivehurst.
From his photo in the paper, the man didn’t look like a guy who was enjoying himself. According to “Heard on the street,” he wasn’t registered to vote, which made me wonder how he expected to replace G.W. Bush if he didn’t vote. Perhaps he’s just one of those people who enjoy being miserable. You know the type. We have lots of them here, and they call and write to me regularly.
Which is why it’s especially important for me to laugh often.
In fact, I attended a seminar just last week on the subject. As you would expect, the fellow who spoke to our group was pretty funny. If you’re going to make money teaching people how to laugh, you’d better be a regular hoot.
“Did you know that the average 4-year-old laughs around 400 times per day, while the average adult laughs maybe seven times?” he asked.
I hadn’t known that, of course. I’m pretty sure I laugh more than seven times a day, but that’s because I fell on my head when I was 2. My former drill sergeant never laughed. Too much starch in his shorts, I suspect. I thought he was hysterical but never had the guts to tell him.
In a nutshell, here’s the difference between you and a 4-year-old:
If you were having lunch with a business associate and noticed that there was something dangling from his nose, would you tell him? Most of us wouldn’t.
A 4-year-old, on the other hand, would not only tell him, but he’d probably point to it and tell everyone else in the room.
The speaker last week said he believes that our egos get in the way of laughter. “Laughter annihilates the ego … and the ego can be a pain in the butt,” he says.
Which is why 4-year-olds laugh a lot. They don’t care what you think if they decide to suddenly dance or pick their noses. In Nevada County we have lots and lots of big egos. That’s what happens in a smart community. Everyone is right all the time and spends their days showing the rest of us how stupid we really are.
Especially during an election year. Last week a fellow wrote a letter that started with, “Jeff Ackerman got it right for once. …” He meant that I finally wrote something he agreed with, which made it right because he’s one of those people who is never wrong.
“You should take your dreams seriously but yourself lightly,” said the humor expert, offering some tips on how to do that.
“Start off each morning singing ‘New York, New York’,” he suggests. “Next time you’re at McDonald’s, treat the person behind you (regardless of who it is) to lunch.”
He also suggested spending more time with little kids. “Volunteer at a kindergarten class,” he said. “Play hide and seek. Turn off the TV; crank the tunes and dance.”
Then there was my favorite. “The next time a telemarketer calls, sell them something.”
So there you have it. Next time you feel like saying something really, really nasty, pick your nose instead. Then go outside and Hula-Hoop for an hour. You’ll feel better, and so will the rest of us.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears each Tuesday.
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