Continuing Education

Recently, I attended a virtual class on the subject of humor, as found in written pieces, stand-up comedy, and movie scripts.  It didn’t take long to learn that I was the dullest person in the class.

From the appearance of some classmates, I couldn’t tell if I was the oldest, though our time together proved I had the longest uncomplicated history. 

The format of the class consisted of the instructor asking a question or set of questions and then calling on each participant for an answer. The point was for her to show how each answer could be turned into a humorous incident.

Question one: “Tell us one thing you’ve done that few people know about you.” 

Right away, I regretted having signed up for this course. From my perspective, when only a few people have a particular piece of information about you, there’s a reason. And while taking in-person classes might allow you to sit in the last row and confess to everyone’s back, Zoom gives you no such option. Everyone is staring at you and if they can’t hear, they can turn up the volume on their speakers. 

Several responses to this question stood out for me:

“I financed my college education by selling drugs.”

“When I turned sixty, I decided to become a pole dancer.”

“I talk to my mother once a month, and only at noon when she’s drunk and I’m stoned.”

I realized then that my reveal that I’ve been baking cookies every week since the start of the pandemic had little promise of entertainment value. 

As each subsequent question became more difficult, panic ensued and my struggle led to more and more innocuous answers.

Question two: “Tell us a little white lie you told recently.” 

I can’t remember any of the lies told that day, including my own. Given the kind of truths people were exposing without a second thought, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the class would want to waste our time with a little white lie.

Question three: “What seems not worth paying attention to?”  

Phew. I didn’t have to struggle for an answer to that one, just repeated the answers of other students who named a variety of professional sports.

Question four: “What have you done recently that you pretended to care about?” 

The only answer I remember was not mine.  It came from the student who said she had just had a mammogram. The instructor wanted to know why she pretended to care about that.  After the woman said, “My breasts are my strongest feature,” she had our attention. What did it matter to anyone if she didn’t care about a mammogram?

Question four continued: “What have you done that you’re overly excited about?”

“I’m a recovering addict.”

That ended any hopes I might have had of bragging about my progress on the third draft of my novel or the fact that next year I’ll be celebrating my fiftieth wedding anniversary.

As the clock ticked, blessedly, toward the final moments of class, it occurred to me that the instructor had found nothing in my answers that would form a basis for a humorous blog, as she had with most other students. She did say our lives were filled with small stories that lead to something good, such as a new learning. 

I’m just grateful that the class provided me with this small story.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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10 Responses to Continuing Education

  1. josephgotchy says:

    Thoroughly enjoy reading your writing……and the latest retelling of your experience in the humor class had me chuckling throughout and glad I wasn’t taking the class. When asked to share a recent white lie, I would have said somebody was knocking at my door, excused myself, and gone outside to rake the yard. LOL! Keep writing and please keep sharing.

  2. Karen says:

    Never mind what the class thought of you. Your blog had ME laughing!

  3. Marilyn Pedersen says:

    Ann, you have an abundance of great stories because you have lived a full and wonderful life! Also, you are a good writer. Don’t hesitate to “strut your stuff!”

  4. Eleanor Owen says:

    Loved it. Found a humorous line in almost every paragraph. When is the 50th party?

  5. Darlene Bishop says:

    Amen to that conclusion, Ann. Kudos to you for trying something new though—I generally think of my life as being rather bland…not sure I would have done as well as you in answering the teacher’s questions. I’ll be looking for more humor in future blogs—ha!

  6. stillalife says:

    It seems that I must put myself in awkward situations often before I can write humor.

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