“You are such a disappointment,” my husband said referring to my newly diagnosed breast cancer. Although it might not sound like that would be a funny thing for someone to say, anyone who knows Fletcher can imagine this phrase, coming from him, sending those who hear it into fits of laughter. It’s all in the delivery. Just prior he’d expressed that he never expected me to get cancer; he perceived me as the healthiest person he knew.
“I’ve disappointed myself too,” I said after I stopped laughing. Tit* began her warm up, running in place on my hip. She saw an opportunity to make a mad dash toward my boob for a violent kick in the lump. I quickly added, “But I can’t beat myself up about it because I feel like I’ve done everything I could to avoid being in this situation.” Tit stopped, put her hands on her hips, shifted her weight then sat down with her back to me.
Each year we have a cookout to kick off summer and invite a slew of friends and neighbors. A few years ago an ice cream truck drove by the house at the height of the party and a bunch of kids ran toward the truck, as kids invariably will. Although I’ve known Fletcher for 35 years I still don’t understand whether the type of thing that happened next is spontaneous and organic, or somehow pre-meditated in a nanosecond, weighed for its entertainment value, then choreographed for maximum effect. In any case here is what went down. Without a moment’s hesitation Fletcher reached deeply into the pocket of his cargo shorts, pulled out a fist full of cash, which he began waving above his head as he dashed after the kids to chase down the ice cream truck. As everyone at the party turned their attention to see why their host was dashing across the front lawn, in an animated caricature of himself Fletcher flailed his legs so that one of his shoes flew off. Without a pause he continued to run, half-shod, until he caught up to the other children. He resembled a 7 year-old boy in every possible way except for the fact that he was a 50 year-old man.
I turned and scanned my guests’ reaction. All were amused, none were surprised. I shook my head, knowing that the term “Saint Linda” likely popped into the heads of some of our oldest friends. That’s what they used to call me for putting up with Fletcher.
“At least he makes you laugh once a day,” said one of our guests, whose own marriage has since unraveled. I thought, once a day? Are you kidding me? That would be a really somber day.
Most days with Fletcher are a marathon of silliness, often punctuated by hysteria. Its as though he is forever competing to maintain that grammar school lunch-table status as the person who makes milk come out of other kids’ noses. And its not just poopy jokes (although there are a fair amount of them). Its political, its personal, its both offspring and pet inspired. Over the years I have had to build up my resistance but every once in a while, much to the amusement of our children, I will become lost in a fit of laughter.
And in a most unexpected irony I am funny to Fletcher. Those who know me would not describe me as particularly funny but the master laughs at my attempts, he sincerely laughs, which I appreciate.
I recently heard a news story on NPR about how laughter is dangerous. The take away from the story seemed to be that hearty laughter can make you pee yourself and injure your gullet. Okay that in and of itself is funny – who says gullet? If laughter is dangerous I am in big trouble. On the other hand, we’ve all heard that “laughter is the best medicine,” yet here I am with breast cancer. So I guess maybe Fletcher hasn’t been dishing it out enough. Fletcher, you are such a disappointment.
*Tit is the name I’ve given my two-inch twin. She showed up in a dream the night I received my cancer diagnosis. My alter ego, Tit is always there ready to beat me up for getting cancer. The little bitch.