The Serious Business Of Laughing At Myself

“We need to talk,” she said, and as thick as my teenage skull was, I knew that phrase meant trouble. On the way home from work I stopped at her house so that she could break up with me. When she was done, I scraped together what little dignity I had left, held my head up, and walked away (controlling the urge to run). As my car came into view I began to realise that my hopes for a quick getaway were not going to materialise. While my girlfriend had been breaking my heart, my car had been simultaneously experiencing a similar, if more literal, fate. My now-ex-girlfriend’s mother had reversed into it, and now the driver’s side door resembled my insides. It wouldn’t open. And the car was parked beside a wall, so the door on the other side couldn’t open either. I ended up having to squeeze my broken spirit ignominiously through an open window. So much for a dignified exit.

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If I’m Proud Of Doing My Duty, I Probably Don’t Do It Enough

I didn’t wash many dishes in our first years of marriage, but I felt quite proud of every one of them. I could scrub one pot in a week and bask in the glory of my goodness. For some reason, my wife didn’t feel the same awe at my occasional fits of kindness. For some reason, I didn’t understand why. 

These days, I do dishes. I don’t keep track of how many, and I no longer feel the same way about them. They need to be done—it’s only fair. Even though I’m doing more, I feel less proud of it. This summer, I read a story by George MacDonald that helped me understand why:

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The Joke I Should Have Laughed At

Saying that I knew it all along was a lie, and they knew it. Saying that I was just playing along didn’t stop their eyes from laughing at me. I would have laughed, too, if I were them. I should have laughed, too, with them. I don’t know where my neighbour got the iron pyrite, all I know is the story they told me about finding it in the woods and do you think there’s more and will we all be rich? I’d never seen gold ore before, but it certainly looked the part. I was old enough to know the stories about children finding treasure, and young enough to forget that I was a fool. 

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