WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH ~ THE TOUGH NEED LAUGHTER by Tina Wagner Mattern
In these uncertain times, when each day can, and often does, bring worrisome news, I try to remind myself to focus on all the blessings in my life instead of the negative things that may be going on in the world. Mark Twain, inarguably one of the world’s greatest humorists, once said, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that’s laughter.” Let me just add to that, “Love makes the world go round, but laughter makes the trip so much more fun.”
With that reasoning in mind, I have to say that a relationship with humor as one of the foundational underpinnings is one sure way to get through tough times. This has definitely been the case in my marriage; I have been with my best (and weirdest) friend for almost 40 years now. His name is Fred; he is 63 years old. His inner child, Freddie, however, is about 8. It is this character who keeps our marriage fresh and endlessly entertaining. He keeps me laughing even in those times when the world feels like it’s spinning out of control.
I’ll give you a for instance: You know how boring grocery shopping is? Not with Freddie. When he comes with me, this is usually how it goes: We walk into the market and Freddie says, “I wanna push the cart!”
“I’m the man.”
“So you’re the man. What does that—?”
“I have qualifications. I have muscles.”
“I guess you could call them that. But what does that—?”
“AND I have hair on my chest.”
“You have hair on about 90% of your body, Freddie. You’re more bear than you are man. It still doesn’t explain why you should—“
“I am the man and I push the cart.”
I can see that I’m never going to come out on top of this ridiculous dispute.
“Okay. Whatever.” I let him push the cart but each time I try to put something in; he runs about 10 feet ahead. This continues until I am literally chasing him up and down the aisles and the other shoppers are laughing out loud. A woman who’s been watching this whole debacle laughs. “I have one of those at home,” she says. “Of course, mine is 3.” I shrug, smiling, “He seemed so normal when I met him.”
I’m 6 years older than Fred, which delights Freddie no end, giving him an opportunity to spout endless old lady wisecracks. For instance, I walked into the kitchen one winter day, rubbing my arms. “I’m cold!” I said. He turned around and perfectly deadpan replied, “Well, honey, you’ve just been alive a really long time.”
He ducked just in time to miss the sponge flying at his head.
When our kids were little and Fred and I found ourselves short of alone time, we started taking a nightly bath together after the kids were safely in bed and asleep. It was here that my husband and I discussed our days, talked about the children and dreamed of upcoming vacations. It was also here that Freddie liked to come out and play.
“Quit splashing me, Freddie!”
“You’re not helping anything, you’re just splashing me!”
“I’m helpin you rinse.”
“I haven’t even washed yet.”
“Whatever!” This would usually be followed by him winding up his toy frogman and setting it loose in my direction.
After one particular bath, I was trying to pull up my pajama bottoms while Freddie was trying equally hard to tie the legs in a knot. Exasperated, I shouted, “Knock it off!” He ran out of the room before I could throw something at him but then from the bedroom I heard, “Ha-ha!” Peeking warily out the door to see what he was up to, I said, “Ha-ha, what?” In his best Bart Simpson voice Freddie said, “Ha-ha, you’re married to me!”
I couldn’t help it, I laughed. Later however, I regretted encouraging him because as we were watching TV, I had one of my routine hot flashes. When I reached for the little portable fan I keep by my recliner, Freddie suddenly turned to me with a devilish gleam in his eye. “You look cold!” he announced.
“No, I’m not,” I said.
“Seriously, you do! I need to help you!” Grabbing a big fluffy blanket he wrapped me securely in it, and then draped himself over me like a 180 pound octopus. “There! Isn’t that better?”
I called him a name I can’t use here.
Over the years of being married to this one-man circus, I’ve learned some things to expect/not-be surprised-by/avoid at all costs where Freddie’s concerned:
- All toothpicks and/or sticks found while on a walk are pokey-things.
- A bra which is not where I would expect to find it, will likely turn up repurposed as earmuffs.
- Never, ever precede Freddie up a flight of stairs.
- Hugs, no matter how tenderly they begin, will usually turn into wedgies. (he just can’t help himself)
- Wearing a sweater that zips down the front is (according to Freddie) just asking for trouble.
- At bedtime, my pillow will often disappear just before I lay my head down.
By now I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes and thinking this might be the weirdest relationship you’ve heard of so far, and that I might have the patience of a saint. Possibly, but that’s not to say that I’m entirely innocent either. Being around Freddie will more times than not inspire my own inner 8-year-old to come out and play. She is rarely at a loss for words. For instance: Freddie lost most of his hair by the time he was 40, so now, (as payback for all the old lady jokes) when he says, “I need a haircut.” I smile sweetly and ask, “Which one?”
So, with all that said, I hope that all of you out there who feel like the world is in chaos right now, has at least one bonefide character in their life, someone who keeps things interesting, who can be depended upon to lighten their spirit with laughter. I count myself blessed because I’m married to mine.