Context Optional

  • "What time is it and why do you smell like oranges?"
  • "Thank you for breastfeeding my non-existent baby girl."
  • "I had a lovely conversation about drunken farm animals awhile ago..."
  • "...the truth is that I am closer to a mole who likes to stay inside only I'm cuter than a mole and have better eyesight. Oh, and I don't have those weird little claw hands."

The quotes above are things that I have overheard or written and they make me laugh every time I think about them. They are funny because they are strange and they are strange because they have been taken completely out of context. Would they still be funny in the proper context? Yes. Would they be as funny? I'm not sure. I'll provide the original context and you tell me:

  • Luisa had been peeling oranges, went to wake Miguel up and these were his first words of the day.
  • This was my response to an e-mail from my friend Amy who had written to me about a dream she had in which she watched our three kids while Luisa and I were on vacation. It was a classic stress dream in which she needed to get the kids on a plane to Germany but hadn't packed. She then wrote, "And to top it all off - you wanted me to breastfeed your baby - although in my dream I was like, 'o.k. that is reasonable, plus I get to eat 500 more calories a day during this stint'."
  • I was having a facebook conversation with a couple of friends about the fact that Luisa's family used to get the Christmas goose liquored up by soaking the feed in wine. Once it was drunk, they would kill it, claiming that it made the meat more tender. Then, another friend mentioned that they feed beer to some cows for the same reason.
  • This little gem was taken from the following paragraph of an e-mail I sent to a friend in sunny California: "We are going up to the cabin this weekend and I will have to folic about in the snow and cold like some sort of frickin' snow bunny when the truth is that I am closer to a mole who likes to stay inside only I'm cuter than a mole and have better eyesight. Oh, and I don't have those weird little claw hands. I've digressed, haven't I? Well, I couldn't go to sleep last night until WAY into the wee hours because I was having grandiose creative thoughts. Don't you hate that? Anyway, I'm tired and maybe, just maybe, I've lost my mind a bit this morning. I know this because of the rambling and because I just accidentally wiped blueberry yogurt on my face."

The quotes are funny in context but I laugh harder when they stand alone. Well, that last one is funny (in or out of context) but that has more to do with sleep deprivation than anything else. What's my point? Well, I have been trying to figure out why I enjoy Twitter so much. Sure, I have a lot of random thoughts that amuse me that I can now throw out into the virtual world but it is more than that. I laugh a lot when I read other people's tweets and I have concluded that it is precisely because, often, it captures the human experience absence of its context. People are using Twitter for all sorts of purposes, including serious journalism. There are hundreds of articles about the impact of social networking sites like Twitter. For me, though, it is the cross section of lives that fascinates me most. Twitter allows me to observe from a distance and find the humor in the mundane. Finding humor in the mundane? One of my favorite things ever. I've heard that the devil is in the details but I'm starting to think that life might be in there too.

ETA: Last night, I spent a good chunk of time trying to find a quote I had written in one of my journals a long time ago that seemed relevant to this post. I couldn't find it last night but, this morning, I realized it was with my editing stuff for The Peep Show. So, here it is:

Wit is, after all, a form of arousal. We challenge one another to be funnier and smarter. It's high energy play. It's the way friends make love to one another.  

~ Anne Gottlieb