Monday, February 25, 2008

Let's Hear It for Laughter

Patricia Sprinkle here, in case you don't recognize the picture. I saw that most folks have been putting glamor shots on these blogs lately, so I thought I'd show you one of mine. I'm the one in the mini-dress, at least two decades ahead of her time. Are those great legs or what?

I've been thinking today about how serious some folks are about the most amazing things. Maybe that's why I write humorous books. I find people so incredibly funny.

Example: My husband and I live two doors from a lovely walking trail. On Sunday afternoons we stroll along admiring plants and trying to identify birds by their calls. We meander for an hour or two while discussing our week, pausing often to look up at striations in a rock face or down into a rushing brook. As we walk, we play a game. We rate other folks on the trail by their Earnestness levels.

Our local joggers, bikers, skaters, and even walkers are amazingly serious about what they do. Almost all wear the intense look of astronauts stranded on a dark and distant planet who must come up with the formula for repairing the space ship before their oxygen runs out.

They frown in concentration as they glide along on skates or pump those bike pedals before an invisible panel of severe judges who apparently preside over our trail. One short glide, one weak pedal thrust, and wham! Instant expulsion from the Serious Exercisers Club.

All the while they are competing for those unseen judges, they are also whizzing past us, judges of their E - levels.
“There’s a nine,” we say.
“She’s definitely an eight.”
“Give her a twelve on a scale of ten.”

Each summer, the trail is lined with bushes heavily laden with fat blackberries. Bob takes off his hat and we fill it for a cobbler or to top our ice cream. Amazing, as crowded as the trail is, that so few people except us and our grandson seem to notice the blackberries.

Some folks are so serious about their exercise that they involve their children. Joggers push triangle strollers. Bikers pull kids in rickshaws. The kids are asleep or look utterly bored, but their parents can’t see that, so they wear the pleased, intent look of adults who are seriously multi-tasking: getting exercise while spending quality time with their kids.

Most of those who run, walk, bike or skate in pairs don’t talk to one another, but some do bring their cell phones to keep up with current events, business, and the status of their divorce.

We gave the twelve to a mother who was simultaneously jogging, pushing a bored tot in a stroller, AND conducting an intense conversation with her ex-spouse on her phone.

The odd part to us is, these people seem to think they are having fun. How do they look and act when they are serious?

Some Sundays I want to call, “Lighten up! Have you looked at your expression in a mirror lately? You aren’t training for the Olympics out here. We've got a blue sky here, a nice spring breeze, new wildflowers since last week, and fascinating rock formations. Forget staying in the zone. Look around you and smile. Can you remember the last time you laughed out loud?”

I don’t really want them to change, though. If they did, what would I have to chuckle about on Sunday afternoons? And where would I get characters for my books?

My tenth—and last—Thoroughly Southern mystery came out this month. WHAT ARE YOU WEARING TO DIE? is about the deaths of two young mothers in a small Georgia town that finds itself drowning in methamphetamine. Not a humorous subject, but I find levity can help the pain go down. One reader wrote, “I laughed and I cried.” What author could ask for more?

For more on my books, visit me at my website,

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