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Surprise! (Funny?)

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In article 17/40—Hey, I love You—I divulged my penchant for phoning friends for no reason other than to just connect. Here’s another story that follows my doing so.

Surprise. (Funny?)

After finding one dog’s missing leash in the kitchen and chucking to myself as to why it was there, I leash up both of my furry friends, exit the garage, pass the front of the house, and press “Martin R.” on my phone’s list of favorites.

Martin is a dear, old mentor of mine with whom I speak on occasion. He grew up in the suburbs of Toronto speaking Yiddish and is the type of person who will analyze the previous sentence to deduce if “dear, old mentor” implies his age as advanced or our friendship as long established. (Both are true.)

Martin: “Hello.” Me: “Hello, beloved.” Martin: “Reb Brian, why are you calling me today?” Me: “To say hi. Why?” Martin: “Amazing timing. Just exquisite timing.” Me: “Good timing, like a good joke?” Martin: “Yes, darling, timing is important in comedy, but this is the opposite of levity. And it’s just exquisite timing. Fifteen minutes ago, I found out my friend Mark got a terrible life diagnosis, and I’ve been sitting here stunned, not knowing how I could talk about it. Or who I could talk to about it. And, then, you call. ” Me: “I’m here,” I say, “glad to listen.”

Of course, though, timing being as it is and phones being as they are, the call disconnects.

Martin: “What’s the last thing you remember hearing?” Me: “You were just telling me about Mark’s diagnosis. Go on.”

And he does. He tells me all about his friend, how they became friends, and the diagnosisAs I listen about a person I’ve never met and will never meet, I’m reminded of the healing power of feeling heard and attended to. I’m glad to be present for my friend.

Me: “Tell me three things you admire about Mark.” Before Martin has told me a second, the call disconnects again.We reconnect. Martin: “I hear they are working on a technology that will allow people to talk to each other through these electronic devices called cell phones.” As Martin tells me more about Mark, the dogs and I decide to take another loop around the block.

The conversation shifts, as it does when we chat, and we share a few jokes.

  • I, for one, think Roman numerals are great.

  • Someone tried to sell me a coffin, and that’s literally the last thing I need.

  • I just found out I’m color blind! The news hit me right out of the purple.

As we both chuckle, Martin brings the conversation toward a close.

Martin: “It’s just amazing, your timing. Not just comedic. That you called me, just now, when I needed a friend.” Me: “Sheer luck, my friend…and the will of the universe, the timing.” Martin: “Reminds me of the joke, ‘What’s the most important thing about comedy?’” I know the punchline: “timing.” But, to make the joke work, I would have needed to interject it before he finished asking the question—which I’ve missed—or wait an absurd amount of time before responding, “timing.”

So, without another word, I hang up.

     

Having him wait and wait and wait for my never to come response of “timing” might be the funniest thing I’ve ever done. Incongruity humor theory (there are other theories, too) says that we laugh when situations turn out differently than we thought they would. Like in the joke, “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, unlike the other passengers in his car.” How about you? How adept are you at finding humor in the dog leash not being where you think it should be, being called old, calls disconnecting, or any other situation that takes you by surprise? 

 

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