Do Animals Have a Sense of Humor?

I cannot imagine going through life without being able to laugh.

The other day I was lying in bed, giggling helplessly at the memory of something funny my husband had said hours earlier. It still makes me laugh. Giggling is the best feeling in the world. I looked at my dachshund, who was eyeing me curiously, and I thought about the fact that he doesn’t get to laugh. He’s really missing out.

Do dogs have a sense of humor? I’ve had a few that definitely showed subtle signs of it. One liked to run his cold wet nose down my spine at moments when I’d least expect it, causing me to screech. Another hopped up on the bed while I was taking a nap and sat on my face. And refused to move. That’s a heck of a way to wake up. I could picture both of those dogs laughing inwardly.

Primates can laugh in their own way. And now that we all have video capabilities on our phones, we are capturing more and more evidence that animals like to play. Even the grown ups. There’s a crow here on my drawbridge that enjoys riding the bridge up and down, and spinning on the weather vane. If animals can play, they have a sense of fun. If they have a sense of fun, a sense of humor must not be that far away.

I cannot imagine going through life without being able to laugh. I’d feel like something really significant was missing. It’s a quality of life thing.

We all have that one friend…

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


Clowns in Context

Clowns get a bad rap. Many people are really freaked out by them. It’s ironic, when you think about it. Most clowns (unless they are pedophiles or serial killers), only want to make people laugh and smile. They are simply there to entertain. Very few career paths can make that claim.

But I’ve known several people who are coulrophobic. I get it. Clowns are masked, essentially, so you can’t be sure of their true intentions. And there have been plenty of evil clowns in media and literature.

For me, it’s all about context. Clowns don’t bother me at a circus or a festival or a children’s party. But put one in a dark alley, or in a tunnel, or at the edge of a forest, then, yeah… no bueno. At that point, even my instinct to think the best of everyone would be severely challenged.

Every once in a while, the world experiences a creepy clown epidemic. Teenage boys (the origin of most ill-conceived ideas) will dress up as clowns and wander the streets, making people nervous, or actively trying to scare people. If this is something you’re thinking of doing, I’d strongly encourage you to change your mind, because if your clowny ass tries to scare me, rest assured I will punch the red nose right off your face. And if I manage to stop there, you should consider yourself lucky, bozo.


Read any good books lately? Try mine!

Lessons I Should Have Learned Way Before Age 50

This has been a year of great change and great learning for me. I’m starting completely over at 50, and that creates a unique set of challenges. It also allows for a unique set of insights. Here are a few things that I’m finally starting to figure out this year that I wish I had understood a long time ago.

  • Not everyone is going to like your pets as much as you do. This was a hard lesson for me to accept, because I know for a fact that I have the best two dogs on earth, but hey, what are you going to do?
  • You can’t force people to like you. It would be great to get along with everyone, but some people just aren’t going to like you. They may have made that decision before even meeting you. They may genuinely find you irritating. Or there may be some negative chemistry going on that defies explanation that neither of you can do anything about. Oh well.
  • You can’t convince people to love you. People will either love you or they won’t. Behaving differently or trying to act charming won’t change that. So stop worrying about it. Let whatever happens happen.
  • There’s no point in worrying about what other people think. In fact, it’s quite liberating when you stop caring. I’m not saying you should throw the Golden Rule out the window. I’m just saying you shouldn’t twist yourself into a pretzel to obtain some stamp of approval that you may or may not get.
  • You’re most likely not going to radically change in the most fundamental ways. I’ve always had this fantasy that I’d become this person who dressed in artsy clothes and wore a long thick braid over my shoulder. Yeah, I could do that, but the truth is, I’m too lazy to invest in clothes and I’m a wash and wear hair kind of girl. And that’s okay.
  • People may want you to change, but that’s their problem. I have wasted a lot of time feeling guilty that I haven’t lost the weight other people want me to lose, or been this outgoing social butterfly who likes to join groups. But you know, screw it. Screw them. I’m me.
  • Rules are made to be broken. The older you get, the more you can get away with. Take advantage of that. It’s fun.
  • It’s great to learn from other people’s mistakes. Let someone else do the heavy lifting for a change.
  • Just because you’re craving something doesn’t mean you should eat it. As time goes on, more food disagrees with me. I may want that meatball sub, but I know I’ll regret it. That’s not going to change.
  • Take chances. If there is something that can change, and you want it to, you’re going to have to take risks. If you don’t, you’ll gather dust. What a waste of life!
  • Don’t let others decide what is important to you. Your priorities for my life do not automatically constitute my game plan for my life.
  • People love it when you’re curious about their lives. Pull your head out of your behind and ask questions about others. They’ll enjoy being in the place of expertise, and you might just learn something.
  • Never stop learning. Read. Discuss. Travel. Ask questions. Be okay with the fact that you don’t know everything. Then life will always be an adventure.
  • Look in the opposite direction every once in a while. I’ve discovered that when going about my daily routine, I tend to look at the same things. But there’s stuff behind you, and to the left of you, and even overhead, that you may not have noticed before. And often it’s beautiful.
  • Get over yourself. If you’re holding on to old baggage or regrets or disappointments, what does that achieve?
  • You only have so much energy. Don’t waste it on stupid shit. It’s okay to not participate in the drama or tolerate the crap. In fact, when you draw firm boundaries, not only does it reduce your stress, but others usually wind up appreciating it, too.
  • It’s easier to live without secrets. I was living with a doozie for a while there, and when I finally admitted it to my friends and family, it turns out that they didn’t care! I spent so much energy and time guarding that stupid secret that I could have used on something else that was more productive. Just get it out there.
  • It is so much fun to be able to laugh at yourself. Be silly. Delight yourself. Have fun. Don’t take yourself so freakin’ seriously. Life’s too short.


On Being Silly

From a recent conversation with a friend:

Me: “Why would anyone wash their hair with something that ends in ‘poo’?”

Her: “It’s a sham.”

Me: “I know, right? It’s not even real poo! It’s sham poo! If you’re going to do it, shouldn’t you go with the authentic stuff?”

Her: “Eeeew.”

I love conversations like this. Wordplay. Imagination. Humor.

Allowing yourself to be playful transports you to a different plane. For a brief, shining moment you get to remove yourself from the harsh realities of life and just have some fun. You also make someone else laugh, which is a delightful bonus. You can think back on the conversation during hard times and smile.

I’ve known people who couldn’t, refused to, or didn’t know how to be silly. I’ve always felt sorry for them. Silliness gives you opportunities to bond. Silliness makes for happy memories.

I was once washing a car with a guy and I squirted him with water. The way I was expecting it to go was that he’d chase me around the car, splash me with water, and a full on explosion of soap suds would ensue. We’d have created a memory. I’d be thinking of it right now and get a warm feeling about that person.

Instead, he froze, and looked at me with tears in his eyes. I apologized, and I never tried to be playful with him again. I felt bad, and I felt sad, but mostly I was hugely disappointed. Because I could see all the missed opportunities for happiness in our future. And I felt that loss acutely.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

Poor Chifferobe, Bless Her Heart

So my boss calls me and says he needs me to work on the drawbridge from midnight to 8 a.m., which believe it or not is great news, because I sure could use the money. But since I’m the resident floater who can be called in at a moment’s notice to work any day, any shift, you name it, I’m your girl, it means that a wrench gets thrown into any plans I might have for the day.

I hang up the phone and realize I’m going to have to spend the evening trying to force myself to get some sleep, which means I need to do my long overdue grocery shopping, like…NOW.

I rush off to the grocery store with my 2 ½ mile long list, make all my selections, and am kind of grateful that I’m in too much of a hurry to make impulse buys because I haven’t had anything to eat all day. (Well, okay, so I didn’t REALLY need that pint of coffee ice cream. Cut me a little slack.)

Anyway, I head to the checkout lines, and they’re all extremely busy, so I choose the line that looks the shortest. We know how futile that is, but, hey, I remain optimistic. There are two people ahead of me, and the first one has already had her stuff all bagged. Lady number two, suspiciously, has left all her food in the cart instead of putting it on the conveyor belt, and I think, fine. I start putting my items on the belt, hoping it will jog her memory or something.

I get all my stuff out of my cart and two other people move behind me when it starts to dawn on me that choosing this line was a really, REALLY bad idea. Lady number one is freaking out. She’s only got 3 small plastic bags of food, and the cashier is telling her that it will be $172.00. Everyone, even the cashier eventually, figures out that this can’t possibly be right. The manager comes over and they fiddle around with various keys, she cancels the whole thing and starts over, and now it’s only $43.00. The cashier, who is named after some obscure inanimate object like Chifferobe, apologizes profusely, and admits that she’s new. She’s only been working there for 20 minutes.


Oh joy. All my stuff is already on the conveyor belt and there are now 4 people waiting behind me. There’s no way to discreetly change lanes now. Sigh. Suddenly the belt starts to move, and all my purchases head right for the cash register and I’m saying, “Wait! Wait!” Because lady number two never did put her stuff on the belt. So now she has to hand her stuff to the cashier one by one, over the top of my food.

When Chifferobe hits the total key, we all hold our collective breath. Thankfully the amount seems reasonable. The woman pays her in a big sweaty wad of coins. Poor Chifferobe is sort of at a loss as to what to do, so she spills them over the scanner and counts them out slowly, and finally sends lady number two on her merry way.

Now it’s my turn. As Chifferobe reaches for my discount card, she knocks some of my stuff to the ground, and it seems to have a domino effect. Soon there are cans rolling all over the aisle and boxes being crushed under foot. Thank God the eggs got through unscathed. (And the ice cream, or I’d have gotten really cranky.)

She means well, but I suspect Chifferobe is not long for the world of merchandising arts. In her defense, as I was wheeling my cart out the door, feeling quite relieved that I made it out alive, she did thank me for my patience, and she was always quite polite. As we say in the south when we’re feeling catty, “Bless her heart.”

Reality Based Children’s Books

The other day I watched a brief video of a Children’s book that was narrated by Samuel L Jackson. It’s called “Go the F**k to Sleep”. I don’t know what made me laugh harder: the actual book, which was surely written more for the entertainment of adults, or the fact that we have reached a point in history where we’re willing to laugh at ourselves enough to actually publish a book of this type.

This got me thinking of other children’s books that are simply crying out to be written. Here’s a few that I’ve come up with, but feel free to suggest your own in the comments section below.

  • Things Often DON’T End Happily Ever After. Sorry.
  • Glass Slippers Would Cause Fungal Infections on Your Feet
  • There’s a Good Chance You Won’t Become Royalty
  • Not Everyone is Beautiful and That’s Okay.
  • If You See Things Turning into Pumpkins, You Might Need Help
  • If You Go Around Kissing Sleeping Women, You May Appear Desperate or Do Time
  • The Plural of Dwarf is Dwarves
  • It’s Usually Not a Good Idea to Hang Out with Undomesticated Animals
  • The Yellow Brick Road Has Pot Holes
  • If Someone Gives You Magic Beans, Make Sure They’re Not from Monsanto
  • Jackass: The Eighth Dwarf
  • The Big Bad Wolf was Just Misunderstood
  • Humpty Dumpty Died and it Wasn’t Pretty
  • Goldilocks was a Burglar
  • Never Throw Wild Parties with Creatures 10 Times Your Size
  • If Someone is Creepy, Don’t Get in his Boat, Even if he Owns a Chocolate Factory
  • Most Problems aren’t Solved in 25 Pages
  • Not all Evil People are Visibly Ugly

Dog Wisdom

I had just settled down to write this blog entry, and was feeling rather stressed out because I couldn’t think of a topic, when my dog brought me his toy. It is Blue’s philosophy that no one should ever be too busy for a rousing game of tug-o-sock. How right he is. Once we have lost our sense of fun, the joy drains completely out of our lives. He’s very wise. Both my dogs are, actually. Here’s what I’ve learned from Blue and Devo, and their many predecessors, over the years.


  • If you need attention, put yourself right there until you get it.
  • Once you’ve learned how to relax your entire body with one big heavy sigh, all your problems will seem to melt away.
  • Sometimes you have to bark to be heard.
  • Put yourself right in the middle of the bed and let the rest of the planet adjust to you.
  • Sleep is the most wonderful thing on earth.
  • Learn how to look cute and the world will beat a path to your door.
  • If you really want to maintain a healthy body weight, eat the same boring thing every day, but do it with enthusiasm.
  • If you don’t talk, people will usually assume that your motives are pure.
  • All you need is love. And kibble.
  • If your natural instinct is to tell the truth, someone is bound to call you their best friend.
  • Everything tastes better with gravy.
  • It’s usually best to keep your opinions to yourself.
  • Every once in a while, howl at the moon.
  • Never go for the jugular when simply baring your teeth will do.
  • Be comfortable with who you are.
  • Allow yourself to be hugged.
  • There’s nothing quite like a good back scratch.
  • Squirrels are highly overrated.
  • If everyone around you believes you can’t do housework, then you’ve got it made.
  • If an artist catches you playing poker just once, you’ll never live it down.

Laughing, here…

I was cleaning out old files in my computer, and came across this conversation I had with an old friend with whom I’ve lost touch. The writing isn’t mine, per se, in fact it’s rather poorly written, but I think this is too hilarious not to share. It makes me laugh until I cry every time I read it, which I suppose says a lot about me. Kip, if you’re out there, I miss you.

Kip: did i tell you what happened to me few weeks ago with a window?

Me: No.

Kip: well we were having car trouble so sharon took my car. Anyway, my car decided to go wrong too so she had to get one from work. So she goes to work and i have to wait till she calls to go get her in her car after it was fixed. So i walk out the front door, taking my keys, get to the car realise i need hers. So go to go back in. But she has taken my front door key off my car keys.

Me: lol

Kip: then my phone wont ring out…

Me: lolol

Kip: so have to wait for her to ring. Meanwhile im trying to open the latch with a stick…

Me: lol

Kip: Doesn’t work, so give up. She rings, I tell her im now locked out. She comes home, we go to open the door but I have put deadlock on with the stick.


Kip: so cant open door with the key.

Me: oh my god, I’m crying.

Kip: The only window we can open is on the stairs, so we open it. It opens upwards but i barely fit through…head first.


Kip: And my top got caught on the latch hook


Kip: So i’m stuck head first upside down in the window

Me: I’m howling.

Kip: Sharon sees that i’m caught so she unhooks it without telling me. I fall through window and down half flight of stairs.

Me: I can’t breathe.

Kip: Head first. Man we were laughing so much

Me: Oh my god, that’s hilarious.

Kip: The spare key is now hidden outside

Me: lol

Kip: I’m so not going through that again.


Joke Theory

A sense of humor is a very personal thing. What I find funny may not amuse you in the slightest, and what you find funny could downright offend me. There is also a time and a place for jokes. If you tell a joke at a party where everyone has had a few drinks and it brings the house down, there’s no guarantee that that same joke, when told at a staff meeting, will not bring the sound of crickets. And I find Saturday Night Live to be hilarious at times, but I doubt I would if I were watching it at high noon.

I often laugh at inappropriate moments. I get this from my mother, and it often gets me into trouble. I think it’s sort of the opposite of a tickle. You can’t tickle yourself, but you can make yourself laugh. I’d much rather laugh than not. Once I learned to stop taking myself so seriously, I set myself free.

And then there’s the famous quote by Ella Wheeler Wilcox: “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.” Humor provides a sense of bonding. If you’re with a group of people and you’re laughing about the same thing, it’s as if you’re saying, “I’m just like you.” “I like the way you think.” “You make me happy.” Some of my best memories are related to times when I’ve laughed until I cried with someone.

Which brings me to my theory about jokes. Your favorite joke defines you in many ways. Once you have that basic definition of yourself, you can pretty much divide the world into two groups: those who laugh at your joke, and those who do not find it funny at all. Some people fall into a grey area. They don’t “get” your joke, but they think it’s funny once you’ve explained it to them. I believe there is still hope for those people.

At this point I’m sure you’re dying to know what my joke is, so here goes:

Question: Why is Turtle Wax so expensive?



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Answer: Because their ears are so small.