Progressive run today, I was thinking about timing.
Here is what I cherish about Grumpy over everything else. I think Grumpy knew that another thing he could teach me that I could use all of my life was comedic timing. Like the saxophone, I don’t think I ever mastered it like he did. One of his favorite comedians was Henny Youngman. You know, “Take my wife, please.” That Henny Youngman. Dad would chuckle every time he heard that. He tried to teach his children the subtle nuances of that line. Deference goes out to all the wives, it could be “Take my husband, please.” or “Take my significant other, please. It really did not matter what he said but how he actually said it.
“Take my wife, please.”
“Take my wife please.”
“Take my wife… please!”
There was a right way and a wrong way. Nobody ever could deliver this line like Henny Youngman. Emphasize wife, emphasize my wife, emphasize please, pause, smile, wait for the laugh. He couldn’t believe how funny this was. This was not the only line. “I went to the doctor. He said I needed an operation. I said to the doctor I needed a second opinion. The doctor said, Ok, you’re ugly too.” Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel were other favorites. “No wonder nobody goes to that restaurant, it’s always too crowded”. Proper pauses, wait…laughter, next joke. People don’t realize that the penny trick was much more than it seemed. Most of us remember Grumpy pulling a penny out of their own ear. I remember the first time, it is probably my earliest memory. He was dexterous and the trick was not complete until he said to the child “Is there any more in there?” There was a time in my life that I truly believed that this is where pennies came from, your ears. Most of the kids were very small, the real joke was for the older kids and the adults. He would captivate the whole room. He was actually setting up the next joke. I met a guy in the park that had a banana in his ear. Yeah, a banana… Nothing was sacred. The only thing I remember from taking Ancient Latin in college was what Grumpy learned at St. Patrick’s High School Latin class: Semper ubi sub ubi. This was translated, “Always wear underwear.” Sage advice, indeed.
Grumpy and I would have long discussion about what was funny and why. Sometimes he thought that if he repeated a particular joke enough times I would understand the nuance eventually. The bottom line is that he makes me laugh. Even today, when he can barely form a full sentence, he will say the right thing, with the exact right comedic timing and make everyone around him laugh. Keep it up Dad, I am still listening.
Back in Mt. Peanut, this is the turnaround at Arlington Heights Road. And they say you can never go home, ha! Favorite song today, Could I have This Dance performed by Anne Murray.