Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
SHARE PROBLEMS AT YOUR OWN RISK
If you have a problem, they say the best thing to do is get it off your chest. Sharing your worries with another person is supposed to make you feel better. I say: bull…loney.
Whenever I share my problems with someone else, I always end up feeling worse. This is because most people have no idea what to say it that situation, so they usual blurt out something which does more harm than good.
When you tell your problems to others, you’re likely to hear three different types of replies. The first is the “no sympathy” response. “Whattaya complaining about?” the other person barks. “You think you’re the only guy in the world with hemorrhoids? Sheesh! Don’t bother me unless you got real problems.”
Another common “no sympathy” response is: “Whattaya expect? You do something stupid, you gotta pay the price!” (Apparently all “no sympathy” responses begin with “Whattaya…”)
Most people quickly learn to avoid sharing their problems with the no-sympathy types, but the stinging rebukes which are part of the learning process are quite painful.
The second type of response is the “Pollyanna platitude.” You pour out your deepest fears and worries to the other person, and in reply you get a big cheesy smile and a series of clichés: “Every cloud has a silver lining!” “When the world hands you a lemon, make lemonade!” “It’s always darkest before the dawn!” etc.
Occasionally the other person will don a red, curly wig and burst into song. “The sun’ll come out…tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomor-ROWWW…”
When this happens, you can make yourself feel better by grabbing the crooning dolt and shoving him or her out a sixth floor window, but of course, your serenity will be short-lived since a murder trial soon will be added to your already existing problems.
The third type of response is the “I can top that” reply. You share your problem, and the other person says, “Gee, my cousin had that, and he was dead within two months,” or “Gee, my neighbor got caught doing that, and he had to go to prison.” (Apparently all “I can top that” responses begin with “Gee…”)
The “I can top that” people always catch themselves—a bit too late—and quickly but unconvincingly add, “…but I’m sure that will never happen to you.”
There is one response which does bring comfort and hope to the person unburdening himself. Unfortunately, hardly anyone is aware of it. I had to learn about it from the wisest soul I know: my dog Elvis.
On one particularly stressful day a few years ago, I began to tell Elvis my troubles. He looked up at me with big brown sympathetic eyes, and without saying a word, came over and plopped his head into my lap. He clearly communicated the message, “I understand,” and it made me feel much, much better.
I vowed from that moment forward, whenever someone told me their problems I would employ the Elvis technique and make them feel better. (Up until that point I usually offered an amalgam of the three typical replies, such as the time I said to my distraught neighbor, “Whattaya worried about? That’s no big deal… I’m sure you’ll find the money to pay your bookie… unless, gee, my uncle Max was in a similar situation and some goon broke his kneecaps… but I’m sure that will never happen to you.”)
I had my first chance to use the Elvis technique a few weeks later when a woman at work told me she was being evicted from her apartment. I looked at her with sympathetic eyes, and without saying a word went over and plopped my head into her lap. After the paramedics revived her, she said that being unconscious for a while did make her feel better as it was the first time in days she wasn’t thinking about her rent situation, and because of that she decided not to press charges.
That evening when I told my wife about my good deed, she suggested that possibly the sympathetic eyes and the silence were helpful, but I should probably leave the head-plopping to more experienced grief counselors, such as house pets.
So now I’ve got a big problem: I have no idea how to conclude this column.
What’s that? Yes, I realize it’s not the end of the world. No, I’m not whining. Well, yeah, I guess everything will work out fine.
Hey, what are you doing? Please get your head out of my lap. Excuse me, but… hmm, that’s very relaxing. Yes, I agree. Who cares about a silly column anyway?
|Home||Current Faith||Current Funnies||Faith Archive||Funnies Archive||Contact Bill|