Third-grade humor can save your day.
Today everyone, including myself, woke up on the wrong side of bed. No one smiles. No one laughs. If I ask someone a question, they just shrug their shoulders. Today became one of those days when people ask one another, “Was there a full moon last night?”
Grumpy people flow through my morning like water flooding a basement. After finally reaching my church office, believing it to be my safe haven, I decide to take a stand. I say to myself, “No one needs to be around me on a day like this, and I don’t need to be around them.”
I dramatically close my office door after announcing out loud to no one in particular, “I need time alone to write my sermon and put together Sunday’s bulletin.” Unfortunately the door never remained closed, and my fight against my crabbiness and the world’s crabbiness failed. Seconds after I began believing that I was safe and that people were safe from me, a gazillion people knocked on my door.
By lunchtime I completed only half my sermon and only one Sunday bulletin. Feeling grumpier than before, I pouted in my office attempting to retrieve composure. Once again I failed.
And then it happened.
I suddenly remembered that the way I salvage a day like today requires third-grade humor. While I know that Christ teaches us to love God and our neighbor, I remembered that on some days like today, the only way that I can adhere to God’s code of love requires me to internally recite jokes from third-grade humor.
“Why is 6 afraid of 7?”
“Because 7 8 9.” (“7 ate 9.”)
As I started remembering my third-grade jokes, opening my mental file filled with one groaner after another, a smile slowly crept across my face.
“Why do cows wear bells?”
“Because their horns don’t work.”
As I recalled one joke after another after another, my tongue pressed into my cheek; and, I attempted to suppress my growing mirth. And as one person after another knocked on my office door and came in, I began observing how my mood actually improved with each visit.
“Pastor Tom did you ever follow up after my conversation with you concerning so and so?”
And I said to myself,
“What’s red and sticky? Baton Rouge.”
“Pastor Tom, I want to complain about so and so.”
And I said to myself,
“What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot.”
With every interruption, I told myself a third-grade joke. And by the afternoon, I found myself in very good humor. Plus, I noticed that after folks left my office, even a bit of their sourness seemed to sweeten.
Third-grade humor saved the day.
“Two sausages are frying in a skillet. One says, ‘Wow! I think it’s getting hot in here.’ The other sausage screams, ‘Ahhhh … a talking sausage!’”
I discovered how I began loving each disruption and loving each person who made it.
“What do you get when you add a tuba to another tuba?”
By early evening I found myself delighted to be alive, and I do believe that my third-grade humor helped others I met.
“One day I got a job picking up litter. I asked someone how to do my job, and they told me, ‘You just pick it up as you go along.’”
Hopefully tomorrow will be a new and grumpy-less day. But for now, thanks to third-grade humor, I can love God and my neighbor unreservedly.
Tom Towns is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Cortez.