January 15, 2011

Fact Is Better: Groundhogs Can't Predict the Weather But They Can Bring Two Folks Together

No matter how hard you try, you won’t get out of life alive. As cliché as it sounds, the old adage is true. People who take themselves so seriously always remind me of this, and as result I have come to appreciate those folks who know how to laugh at themselves. Especially older folks.

I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to really start putting your life in perspective when you know your days are numbered. In a way, it’s comforting to me when an elderly person – no matter what their age or state of health or financial situation – remembers and encourages others to laugh. And to embrace life (no matter how much or little there is left to it).

I was working at the brewery on a particularly slow day, when a very tall, elderly gentleman came in. At first, I thought he was, well, crotchety – asking all these questions about why we didn’t have beer yet and how this ruined his plans for the weekend, blah blah blah. I patiently explained that it would be available for Groundhogs Day.

The following conversation ensued, and it was a gentle reminder about how quickly people can morph from something awful into something beautiful. It happens every day.

(Not enough of us are looking for it, though) . . .

The Man with the Cataract Surgery: “Well, between me and you, that holidays is crocka shit. Of course the damn groundhog’s gonna see his shadow with all those people and cameras around!”
Me: “Between me and you, if I was that groundhog, I would intentionally dive back into that hole just to spite all the people stupid enough to watch a groundhog see it’s shadow.”
The Man with the Cataract Surgery: *something in his disposition changes - becomes more gentle and amiable* “You know that today is Friday? And people say T.G.I.F.? Well, did you know, Friday is actually Poets Day. Spelled out ‘poets’ for me.”
Me: “P-O-E-T-S.”
The Man with the Cataract Surgery: “Piss Off Everyone, Tomorrow’s Saturday.”
Me: *laughing* “That’s good. I approve. I might just use that.”
The Man with the Cataract Surgery: “Go right head! It’s all yours to use. Can I tell you another one?”
Me: “Sure.”
The Man with the Cataract Surgery: “It’s a longy, but a goody. So, this teacher is talking about whales in her class. Telling her kids all about the different whales that exist. And the kids look afraid, so she reminds them that even though there are some enormous whales out there, they can’t swallow people because their throats are only so big. And one little girl pipes up and says, ‘No way. Jonah was swallowed by a whale.’ And the teacher tells her that it’s just a story. So the little girl says, ‘Well, when I die and go to Heaven, I’m going to ask Jonah if it’s really true.’ And the teacher smartly asks back, ‘Well, what if Jonah isn’t there?’ And the little girl shrugs and says, ‘Then I guess you’ll be asking him.”
Me: *smiling from ear to ear* “Oh, hey now!  That wasn’t bad either. You know, you’re certainly the most upbeat person that I’ve talked to in a while. I appreciate that.”
The Man with the Cataract Surgery: “Can I tell you something? I survived a heart attack, four angioplasties, having my caryatid arteries worked on twice, cancer of the larynx, diabetes, and the first of two cataract surgeries.” *he points to his swollen, red eye* “And, as of today, I’ve beaten the cancer and have no more diabetes! And I can see pretty good outta one eye for the first time in a while now!”
Me: “Good for you! It sounds like Someone on high is smiling down at you.”
The Man with the Cataract Surgery: “I think He has something more He wants me to do here on Earth. That, or, I haven’t suffered enough punishment yet!”
Me: “I think it’s probably both – God’s got a sense of humor like that.”
The Man with the Cataract Surgery: “But in all seriousness, after my heart attack I decided that life needed more humor in it. And that I was going to take the time every single say to laugh. We’ve got enough people talking about how bad everything is, that we don’t need to be a part of that. It’s healthy – it’s important! – to laugh, or get a chuckle every day.”
Me: “I agree. And I’m thankful for people like you who remind me of that. Hey, I got one for you. What did one snowman say to the other? ‘Do you smell carrots?’” *I pretend to sniff the air around me.*
The Man with the Cataract Surgery: “Oh, oh!” *he puts his hand on his chest as he wheezes with laughter* “Oh, that’s just bad. You know, I had another one I was gonna tell you but I forgot. More reason for me to come back I suppose!”
Me: “You can come back anytime, you’ve made my day.”

True story.

Further proof that fact is better than fiction.