I can find humor anywhere. It’s a gift…or a curse. I waver on that regularly.
About 35 years ago I was in a small grocery store across from our apartment to pick up a few things we needed. We didn’t have much storage space so we went to the store multiple times each week for few things each time, usually diapers and baby formula.
To this day, I can still see the well-dressed middle age woman in front of me in the express lane with one item.
One roll of toilet paper.
Honestly, if she was behind me in line, I would have let her cut in front of me. Imagining the urgency of a situation where you would drive to a store to buy one roll of toilet paper, makes me want to help that person get out of there as quickly as possible.
This episode triggered a lifetime of “express lane humor.” See a person with two items…a bottle of Tylenol and a chocolate pie? Somebody is having a bad day. Express lanes are fertile ground for humor.
But the world is bigger than express lanes.
You are driving down a road less-traveled where vehicles come by once every 30-60 minutes. There in the road is a poor squirrel who has been hit by one of those infrequent vehicles.
Do you figure he looked both ways, maybe waited for ten minutes to see if any cars will come? A victim of sheer rotten luck? Maybe he figured it was OK to go across without looking?
Monte the Raccoon: “Hey Wilbur, why did the chicken cross the road?”
Wilbur the Squirrel: “I don’t know Monte, why?”
Monte the Raccoon: “Because he was fit to be fried.”
Wilbur the Squirrel: “That’s terrible Monte. Do you think the coast is clear and we can cross? Hasn’t been a car by here in hours.”
Monte the Raccoon: “Sure, go ahead. Nobody ever comes down this road.”
You can make up the rest of the story. Not exactly for kids, I guess. The moral of the story is: Never trust raccoons named Monte.
Eyes open, antennae up. The awful humor will come easily.
Whether you are writing blogs or looking for examples to build characters in your novel, you need to constantly be on the lookout for material, humorous or poignant.
Anyone who speaks or writes for publication on a regular basis is always on duty looking for illustrations to punctuate their work. How many times have you heard a speaker mention something relevant to their main point that happened to them within the last few hours or days?
Their eyes were open and antennae up and the real-life applications came easy.
Even if you don’t have something specific you are writing or preparing, a meaningful moment is worth remembering and writing down. You never know when you might want to use it. Write it down immediately, use your voice-memo function on your smartphone, send yourself a text or email. Whatever you do, capture the moment.
Word images are powerful. Stories that illustrate are memorable. Sometimes we remember the illustration more than the narrative. The illustration becomes the message.
This is why Jesus taught in parables. He told a story to a few or to many and you can rest assured those people remembered the point he was trying to make, because they remembered the story and could repeat it.
And those stories have more meaning than mine. (I have a few that don’t include talking animals.)