Monday, midday. Childish homophone posters adorn Mrs. Cicoria’s classroom walls. Colored pencils and nubs of crayon lay scattered across the floor. I’ve just come from a lower-level composition class where the students chose to write about such important historical figures as Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears. Fifth period likes to push you. They blurt out terse, incoherent thoughts as we discuss Lord of the Flies and chatter mindlessly while others voice opinions. Time for a coloring activity instead.
“Hey Mr. Rogers,” M—— says with her usual boldness, “you’re always so serious. I’ve never seen you laugh.”
I am confused. Nothing cheers me up more than a fit of sudden uncontrollable laughter. In my writing I enjoy treating overdramatic or everyday subjects with an unexpectedly humorous tone. I keep a blog with a secondary goal of making my readers laugh. My friends and I can crack jokes nonstop for hours, and I feel the closest to the people who will know I’m not serious when I make a potentially offensive one. Many of our oldest inside jokes still make us all laugh. I love Woody Allen and Joseph Heller. Also Dave Barry, Kingsley Amis, Kurt Vonnegut, Carl Hiassen, David Sedaris, and Mark Twain. I like mocking people instead of complaining about them. One of my favorite online activities is making fun of the Adult Gigs on Craigslist (my latest find being an ad by the world’s biggest Lord of the Rings nerd looking for a woman willing to have her vagina and the surrounding area painted to resemble the Eye of Sauron for the laughable sum of twenty-five dollars). Sam and Hannah can attest to the time we were making fun of bad porn titles and I laughed so hard I collapsed. Sex is funny. The pirate tells the hooker that it’s not only his leg that’s made of wood. Serious people are funny: I often feel uncomfortable in formal situations and am compelled to make inappropriate jokes to ease the tension in a room. So what is it about this job that brings out the worst in me?
“I guess you’ve never been around at the right time,” I say.