Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

One of the TV networks has a campaign that says “characters welcome.”  The way I figure it, they must be talking about Baby Boomers.  I think it takes some age and experience before you can truly graduate to “character.”  

That’s not to say you can’t be young and still be a character. But, it’s rare.  As I’ve written earlier, it took me 50 years or so to achieve “characterhood.”  I would have claimed it earlier, but my wife wouldn’t let my weirdness ride in on anything else.  Characters can get by with saying things others wouldn’t say, because people respect their differences enough to give them some slack.  It takes time to build that kind of respect.

It’s very clear to me the longer my friends and I live, the more we achieve characterhood.  It’s a confidence level of having broken the mold (and more than a few rules along way) and still be interesting, respectable, charming, and morally bound.  Being a character is understanding you don’t have to prove yourself to others any more.

Characters usually aren’t “holier than thou.”  Not the ones I know. They have “been there done that” and aren’t boasting, but have learned and are coasting.

It dawned on me the other day that my closest friends are characters.  They’re the interesting ones.  You always have an acquaintance or two who doesn’t seem to cast shadows.  But, I don’t to hang around them that much.  I like to hang around people you wonder about some.

It’s like knowing people who aren’t  “buts…” (Not what you’re thinking.  That’s with two Ts.) I don’t hang around “non-buts.”  I like to think I’m a “but.”   (One T!) I’ll explain.

“Bob is a lot of fun and a hard worker, but, he’s crazy.  Or, “but he’s spontaneous.”  Or, “but you never know what he’s going to do.”

My friend, Ellie, has been a “but” for a long time.  I’m a bit jealous and am working to catch up.  “If you want something done, ask Ellie.  But, she can be off the wall.”   Or, “but you never know what she’s going to say.”

I will tell you one thing, I want to be a  “but.”  (Remember, that’s with ONE T.!)  And I enjoy being around other “buts.”  In many cases, they are the characters, the instigators, the encouragers, the go-to-people.

The next time you go out to eat and find a table of people laughing and having fun together, I’ll bet a character, a “but,” isn’t too far away.

My daughters-in-law might shutter at the thought, but I feel confident they’re married to “buts.”  Both my wife and I are.  The friends I truly enjoy are. Many of their children are.

“Buts” are followed by “ands.”  “And, they’re fun.”  “And, I love being around him.”  “And, she makes me laugh.”  “And, we really get things done when they’re around.”  “And, I can’t wait until he comes back.”

The next time someone calls you a “but,” ask how they spell it.  And, take it as a compliment.

Date of Blog Story: 
November 3, 2008

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