Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

You may think you know people for years, and still not really know them.  Yet, you learn a lot when you get a group of Boomers sitting around talking about how we’re not old like our parents and that we won’t complain about our illnesses, and, oh, have I shown you the scar from my latest knee surgery, and, by the way, did you know that man who sits on the park bench every day is only 65 years old and he looks every day of 72.

For some reason, all that brings me to Crazy Sue.  One Saturday morning, several of us no longer looking into long-time careers met at Starbucks to enjoy coffee and read The Wall Street Journal.   Crazy Sue came in, and, as she was often wont to do, began holding court by spouting forth her opinions. (Before you shake your head at me calling my friend Crazy Sue, you must realize that was her “achieved name,” as she would, indeed, explain to you herself.  A given name, she would tell you, is nothing you can control. “But, I have ‘achieved’ the name of Crazy Sue,” she would share, “and intend to be known that way.”)  Alrighty then.

At any rate, she was talking about her upcoming retirement and declared she was thinking about moving to the Everglades.  Bill Jack, who was not known for his tact, said, “Sue, being a school teacher has fried your brain.”

Louise spoke up, “I know the truth. Sue is going to the Everglades with a rifle and a pontoon boat. She needs a new pair of alligator shoes and wants to get them fresh."  We all laughed.   

Crazy Sue, who taught eighth graders for 35 years, did not laugh. Anyone who has been around young raging hormones for so long certainly could handle a silly alligator. In fact, with her school-teacher training, Crazy Sue could handle anything. 

Here was a woman who was late for church one Sunday and ran a four-way stop because there was no traffic coming in any direction.  The sheriff, who had been a block behind her, pulled her over.  She had been his teacher a while back, like 30 years back.

"Miss Sue,” he said, “I'm going to have to give you a ticket."

"What for, Frank?"

"Running that four-way stop.  You could have killed someone."

"Frank, your power of observation hasn't improved in all these years. I couldn't have hurt a soul.  There's no one else on the road.  They're all in church where I’m headed, and I'm late because you stopped to lollygag.  Now get back in your car and go arrest those wild girls you used to date."  She drove away.

Bill Jack, still thinking about the Everglades, continued his taunting.  “Crazy Sue, if you want an alligator, you sure don’t need a gun.  You’re mean enough to wrestle a gator with your bare hands.  But, the Everglades sound too wild even for you.”

She gave him an eye-lock that was cold and hard.  "Number one. You are the only grown man I know over 60 who is called Bill Jack.  Pick one name and grow up.  Number two.  You are not emotionally capable of understanding my reasons."

I sat in silence after that.  Number one. I was afraid to imagine her reasons.  And, number two, I believed the alligator story.

Date of Blog Story: 
February 12, 2008

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