Releasing my inner child

When you’re expected to write something funny every two weeks, it’s not easy. Just pick up a newspaper, and you tell me what’s so funny. So where is a good place to look for ideas?

Hey, how about, which features writing ideas for kids of all ages? Children, by their very nature, are not all that much into the news, and many of them laugh a lot, so that’s where I’ll go.

Think I’ll try topics for Grade 3. I vaguely remember the third grade. I turned eight that year, and I had a young pretty teacher, on whom I had a big crush. She was probably doing all kinds of inappropriate things with the children in the class, but I have repressed all of that. I just remember that I couldn’t wait to get to school every day. Oh yes, I am not here to reminisce about my childhood fantasies, but rather to look at those topics in writesource, and see where they lead me.


The first topic on the list is “My best birthday.” Well, that’s an easy one for a third grader, because how many birthdays have you had? A total of eight or nine, of which you can’t even remember the first two or three anyhow, so that leaves at most six. And when you’re that age, birthdays can be fun, so the idea of a “best birthday” makes a lot of sense. But I have now had 69 birthdays, and I can barely remember any of them.

Now, worst birthdays, that’s a different story. My fiftieth was definitely one of them. Actually, the birthday itself was terrific. My wife threw me a wonderful party to which she invited all my friends and associates. It was a great night. I had heard that turning 50 was an upsetting experience for a lot of people, but I didn’t feel that way at all. I loved it. Hey, I said to myself, this isn’t bad! I like being 50!

The happy feelings lasted for two weeks, at which point I became very depressed, and this depression has lasted, on and off, right to this day.

Okay, maybe another topic will cheer me up. How about “Magic tricks I can do”? That’s an easy one. I can’t do any magic tricks. This doesn’t cheer me up at all, especially because I know that two of the great comics of modern times — Johnny Carson and Steve Martin — started their entertainment careers doing magic tricks. It seems to be almost a prerequisite for fame in the humor world.

All right, how about “A sport I’m good at”? Uh oh. There’s another problem. I don’t think I’m very good at any sport. I once had a pretty good shot in basketball, but I was not very fast and not very tall, and pathetic on defense. I was okay in tennis, but by no means good. I have always envied people with athletic ability. I also envy people who can fix things. And people who don’t worry all the time. In fact, I am filled with envy.

This exercise is making me totally depressed. There’s got to be a topic that will put me in a fun mood. Okay, here’s one: “Funny things my pet has done.” We got a beagle puppy when I was 12, and he became a pretty neurotic dog, since he was being raised by a pretty dysfunctional family. He occasionally bit people, such as a friend of mine who had the nerve to sit in my father’s favorite chair (my father and the dog were inseparable). But he also did cute and funny things, and here is one of them.

We were away for a few hours, and when we came home it was apparent that Casey had gotten into a food cabinet, and had chewed open a box of matzos. There were a few matzo pieces on the floor of the kitchen, but most of it was missing. He couldn’t have eaten it all, we thought, but where was the rest of it?

Well, it turns out that Casey had done what dogs do. He had “buried” the matzo pieces to eat at a different time. You’d sit down on the couch, and hear the crunch of matzo underneath the couch cushion. You’d lie down on your pillow, and, “Crunch,” more matzo. Of course, we had to punish Casey and we made him go to his room for an hour, but it was good for a lot of laughs.

Perhaps the most interesting topic on the list, and one that seems a little weird to be giving third graders is “Things I’d like to change.” I have no idea what I would have written back then — perhaps I would have simply said, “My brother” — but today I wouldn’t know where to start. Well maybe I’d start with my nose, which has always been a bit long for my liking. Yes, I know, I could get plastic surgery for that, but I’ve lived with it for so many years that I’m used to it. I’m used to it blocking my view of the floor or of what I’m eating.

I do have a funny nose story, though. One day when I was leaving my house, I kissed my wife good-bye, and then turned around, bumping my nose on the edge of the doorway. My wife became hysterical over this, and I had to laugh too — though not nearly as raucously as she did.

It has become one of our “stories,” though — you know, the kind married couples use as they go into their golden years together and run out of new things to talk about.

Ah, there’s an idea for a whole new column! I’m sure my wife will love that one.

Perhaps I’d be better off using another one of those “Grade 3” topics. Oh, here’s a good one! “Unusual fruits and vegetables.”