Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On the salutary effects of incendiary facial hair

So, Buffy, Hammer, and I are outside the university art museum, and there are all these fire trucks out front. Out back, there's a little knot of fire fighters, but no obvious emergency.

Then, at the head of the reflecting pool, we see it: a wide, black monolith holding a steel outline of a giant mustache.* And the mustache is on fire!

We giggled, snorted, and guffawed all the way across campus. Giant mustache! On fire! Hello, 911? My mustache is on fire! (OK, maybe you had to be there.) I could hardly breathe. Continence was a problem.

Then Hammer looked at me, eyes wide with delight. "Mom's laughing!"

Once I'd gotten over the giant, flaming mustache, this made me think. Our family loves a gut-busting, drink-spewed-out-the-nose laugh. It lingers all afternoon, both in little giggling aftershocks and in a general feeling of having shared something wonderful. Cuts right through teenage and tweenage angst, and parental exasperation. But if the kids are astonished to see me howling in glee, then by golly, we're not LAUGHING enough!

So now I actively pursue stuff for us to laugh at. Some of it comes naturally: we're kneeling in a circle for family prayer, and the cat settles himself in the center of the circle, as though we're praying to him. This is good for at least five minutes of hilarity. God doesn't seem to mind waiting. I also seed the reading areas with Calvin and Hobbes, the iPods with Weird Al, and the DVD player Abbott and Costello or the Marx Brothers. You just can't laugh with your brother and be mad at him at the same time.

Just don't light his mustache on fire—'kay?

*Andrew Sexton, Self Portrait, 2006, steel, rubber tubing and propane, 19 x 66 in. Brigham Young University Museum of Art "Mirror Mirror" exhibit. October 2009.
Lee Ann Setzer's blog about books, writing, and life in general.