Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The best medicine

Last week I discovered a new (to me, anyway) blog: the "Life Stories" page on the salon.com website. These are brief, slice-of-life tales by ordinary people. I found the page when I was directed there by another site; I wanted to read the full story of "My Relentless Pursuit of the Guy who Robbed Me." I stuck around after finishing it and started checking out other stories on the blog. It took only a minute to realize that what I was enjoying were the headlines, not the articles.

It was like reading tabloid headlines while waiting in line at the supermarket: "My Pen-Pal Romance Went Bad." "My Apartment Was Burglarized and Now I'm Terrified." "How Bedbugs Ruined My Life." "Can I Take a Lover in My 50s?" "My Old High School Friends Won't Go Away." "Is Don Draper to Blame for the Male Makeup Boom?" "The Discovery Channel Gunman Hated 'Jon & Kate' Too." I didn't need to read any of the articles; I was perfectly entertained with the headlines alone. I told Sean about my favorite headline of all: "Why Does My Son Keep Coming Out to Me?" I did read that article, and it's actually rather touching -- the teenage boy in question suffered a severe head injury not long ago and probably can't remember that he has already told his mom he's gay. When Sean heard the premise of the article, he exclaimed, "That is a play or a short film! Send me the link."

Last week I read the best headline EVER on the Vulture website: "Clint Eastwood Wants Joaquin Phoenix to Play J. Edgar Hoover's Lover." I don't think anyone was trying to be amusing with that one, but for some reason I started giggling uncontrollably when I read it.

Maybe I'm just primed for a good laugh. I've been feeling kind of crummy lately, with a stuffy nose and chest congestion that never seem to completely go away, and I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping at night. When I'm overly tired, the first thing that goes is my sense of humor about myself . . . yet I am more prepared than ever to laugh at something that doesn't involve me. That's probably why I decided to reread Charles Portis' delightful novel True Grit instead of picking up West of Here, a new novel coming out next year, like I'd promised the publisher. There's something so comforting about rereading a good book, especially one that's full of laughs and adventure, as True Grit is. I wanted to find a lengthy passage to quote here, but although the book constantly provokes my laughter, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what's so funny about it. There's a dry wit that's difficult to convey out of context. Does "At the city police station we found two officers but they were having a fist fight and were not available for inquiries" seem funny to you? It made me laugh aloud. True Grit was also one of my dad's favorite books, and both he and my mom have been on my mind a lot lately; that might have something to do with my decision to reread this particular book at this particular time.

Then again, maybe it's just that the teaser trailer for the Coen Brothers' new take on the story has just been released. Their movie doesn't look funny at all.

1 comment:

Pile Girl said...

Tonight I was watching FRINGE. At a particularly dramatic moment, Peter says something like, "At this point, what would surprise you?" And Walter said, "Bacon flavored pudding. It would surprise me."
I laugh again every time I think of it.