Tuesday, February 07, 2012

An Inherited Case of the Giggles - Rose McCormick Brandon

Terrence, my five year-old grandson, came to spend the night. When it was time for bed, I read a story; that's our ritual. I usually read one of the Berenstain Bears books because that's what he's been liking lately. Instead, I reached for The Adventures of Bobby Coon by Thornton W Burgess. On the first page is an inscription: Jack Brandon, Christmas 1924. My father-in-law who passed away a few years before I married his son Douglas, received the book when he was about the age of our grandson.

Bobby Coon, nesting in a hollow tree for the winter, had a bad dream. The dream turned into a nightmare. A giant was beating Bobby's log with a stick. Bobby rubbed his sleepy eyes. The dreadful pounding continued. The half-awake coon didn't know if he was dreaming or awake. He decided to bite his tail. That would let him know if he was awake or asleep. At this point in the story Terrence began to giggle.

"So Bobby took the tip of his tail in his mouth and bit it gently. Then he
wondered if he really did feel it or just seemed to feel it. So he bit it again,
and this time he bit harder. 'Ouch!' cried Bobby."

Terrence lost control of his giggle. He rolled back and forth on the bed struggling for breath. At this exact moment I discovered an awful truth. Terrence has inherited my gift of visualizing a scene into absurdity. It's a helpful ability when used in writing but one that's also caused me embarrassment. Once when I was fifteen, sitting in a church pew at a youth meeting, the teenage zealous speaker, his face red from exertion, preached to us about our sinful tendency to criticize others.

He cited Jesus' story about the man who tried to remove a speck from another man's eye and couldn't do it because he had a massive beam stuck in his own eye. A vivid picture settled in my brain. A man strode through the small downtown section of our town, a plank protruding from his eye. I saw him linger at the Sears window. Shoppers gazed at him, horrified.

As this movie played out in my mind, I started to giggle. My face turned crimson. I clamped my hand over my mouth and lowered my head below the pew in front of me. Nothing worked. The movie continued. The man in my mind strolled through town oblivious to the two by four in his eye. I laughed through the entire sermon. And the sermon was no laughing matter. My cousin seated beside me giggled too, not because of her own vivid visions but because my giggle set her off.

Now my affliction has been visited upon my poor grandson. He is doomed to visualize scenes that will undo him at the most inappropriate moments - in the middle of a wedding speech, during a Christmas song warbled to a courteous audience by an untalented singer or perhaps at a PTA meeting when a worried parent over-dramatizes an altercation between children.

For now, Terrence and I share an out of control moment thanks to Bobby Coon. I wonder if the writer of these delicious stories possessed a motion picture mind too. I wouldn't be surprised if he did.


Charles Van Gorkom said...

Now you've give ME the giggles as well! LOL

Peter Black said...

The giggle gene -- what an affliction to suffer and to pass on to the poor wee lad! A grandma account, set to crack many a face.
But, it's not so bad, is it, so long as it doesn't get one into deep trouble, eh?
A penchant towards visualizing absurdity -- a necessary capacity for an engaging writer, I reckon.
Thanks Rose. :)

Diana said...

Rose, I have the same kind of visual mind and I have guffawed out loud in church (and elsewhere) more than once. But, hey, laughter doeth good like a medicine.


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