Saturday, July 19, 2014

No Complaints

Tuesday July 15th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

   I am by nature a complainer. I think most comedians are to some degree, and that’s a large part of why many of us are attracted to the concept of comedy in the first place. Our minds tend to go that way anyway, so why not pick apart life in general and point out the flaws and absurdities? 

   It’s hilarious when done right, and I became skilled at it early. I used to pick apart school lunch every day in grade school, just because I thought it was funny. It was funny, at least to the kids in my class. I used to get them rolling to the point they almost choked on the food, and that’s about the best compliment I could ever imagine. Killing a kid would have made me a comedy legend.

   Then one day out of the blue one of the lunch ladies got in my face and said she was sick of my smart mouth and told me to shut it once and for all. She said how hard they worked every day on a limited budget to feed us, and then I’d walk in and get all the kids laughing. She said it hurt all the kitchen employees, and they dreaded seeing me enter into the cafeteria. I felt like a giant ass. 

   I didn’t realize that my bitching had hurt those ladies, and that day I walked in the kitchen and said I was sorry to each and every one of them. I told them I was only trying to get the other kids to laugh, and I didn’t realize that I was hurting their feelings. I don’t know if they believed me at the time, but I absolutely meant it. I still do. From that day forward I never made another joke.

   Granted, I’ve done jokes about school lunch on stage but that was decades later and in another state. The chances of any of those ladies being at my show would be astronomical. My luck they would be having a convention or reunion in the town I was playing, and I’d infuriate them again.

   I often use this very forum to tee off on something or someone that grinds my gonads, and I’m sure I’ve turned people off with that too. I would love to paint a perpetually sunny picture of the world, but from my vantage point I just don’t see it. There are circumstances that befuddle me.

   A big one I am painfully reminded of every day is my roommate Sheri. What a horrible hand she has been dealt off the bottom of life’s deck, and it sickens me to see all the pain and suffering she is enduring. She is out of the hospital after her stroke on New Year’s Eve, but her life is hell.

   I am delighted that we were able to pull off a benefit comedy show for her, and I see the direct result of it every day. She has a chair lift that takes her up and down some stairs, and our event is what paid for it. Most of us don’t need to think twice about going up or down any single flight of stairs, but Sheri can’t do that by herself anymore. It’s a major deal for her just to get out of bed.

   She has nurses that come over on most days and help her do the simplest things, and she has to take all kinds of medication that is very expensive. She’s on disability, and some of her medicine comes out of that. My rent money really helps her, and I do all I can to help her in any way I can.

   It’s extremely sad all around, and sometimes I look at her situation and wonder why somebody so nice has to suffer such a cruel fate. Sheri is a kind soul and would never hurt a baby flea. I’ve known her twenty years, and feel an obligation to help. Yet through all this mess I’ve yet to hear Sheri complain even once. I’d bet few of us could take it so well. It’s time to shut my yap. Again.

It's far too easy to complain about almost anything. That's a habit I need to break yesterday.

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