essays

Declaring War on Seriousness

I miss being irresponsible. Before I had a mortgage. Before I switched from having a job to managing a career. Before I knew what a 401K was. Before I worried whether Social Security would be there for me and whether I would have enough money to Kardashian buttlive on when I got squeezed out of the workforce for being too old. Before I cared about health insurance because who was going to get sick?

It seems like there was more to stoke the fires of our silliness in our less responsible days. A couple of us have this theory at work that people can be divided into two categories -- those who read MAD Magazine as a child and those who didn't. And those who read National Lampoon as an adult and those who didn't. I loved both, so for many years there was a monthly dose of hilarity to keep things out of perspective.

I remember getting my brand-new issue of National Lampoon and curling up in the tub to read it from front to back. Laughing until I snorted, calling my husband in to hear excerpts he didn't want to hear because he was kind enough to let me have it first. My favorite was "Tips and Tales from Bernie X." Bernie X was a New York Jewish cabbie who told these fantastical stories about everything from hunting Nazis to hooking up with hot women and driving celebrities across the country.

Everything is so serious now. Like many people, I read a lot of my news on the Internet, and I'm the one who reads the comments at the end of the article. There are a lot of hateful people out there sharing their spiteful observations about seriously depressing news. And the stuff that isn't serious isn't necessarily funny. So much of today's humor is focused on the horrors of reality, like People of WalMart -- it's a titillating train wreck but not what I would call humor.

Finding humor on the Internet is not the same thing as blocking out an hour or two to read a magazine from front to back. Snippets of humor here and there. Not enough to transform your thinking and not enough to transform your day. Just a little pressure valve, but it's better than nothing. I recently discovered The Fluffington Post. I especially like the cat section.

The writing reminded me of another old favorite -- the Weekly World News. I wondered if the same people were behind both publications. The print version of WWN disappeared in 2007, and I didn't know until I fluffington catGoogled it that it still exists on the Internet. WWN was famous for Bat Boy. One of my favorites was a headline, "Baby born with button nose." They doctored a photo and put a real button on a baby's nose. Maybe you had to be there, but I remember reading it on a camping trip and laughing until I cried.

As I've aged, I've noticed less humor in my life. Or maybe as we get older, we don't find as many things funny as we once did? I don't think that's the case. I think we get caught up in the responsibilities of life and forget our inner child who just wants to crack up.

So ... I'm declaring a war on seriousness. Humor and joy is the fountain of youth, and finding these treasures reminds me that I need to incorporate more silliness into my life -- books, magazines, movies, experiences.

 

Donna Pekar authors a blog called Rock the Silver, about aging with panache. It's about being fearlessly gray and relentlessly cool.

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