For instance, a friend and I had a saying years ago that everything is better in opera. Which still holds true. Ask you husband what he would like for dinner normally, or ask him the same question in an opera voice and suddenly the routine becomes both ridiculous and hilarious. I think the opera tactic stems from my childhood growing up in church. Anytime I heard the opera vibrato spilling out of a nearby hymn singer, I couldn't help but giggle. For those of you who know the old hymns, it was particularly hilarious on the Sundays we sang "Victory in Jesus." It literally sounded like some of the opera folks were about to take flight and I couldn't contain myself. And for that matter, still cannot. Which is why I decided, if you can't beat them, join them because there is pure joy to be had and endorphins up for grabs rippling out of the waves of ecstatic vibrato. Especially when asking your friend if they can pick you up from the airport.
Another silly tactic I enjoy is adding a y or the y sound to words. So Halloween becomes Halloweeny, constipated becomes constipatey, Filipino becomes Filipeeney and so on and so forth. Just another way my brain attempts to transform plain into momentary entertainment.
A few years ago, I had a great alibi for my silly slants. I taught 8th graders. And 8th graders are not known for their mature logic and reason. In fact, over the course of my tenure as a teacher of these mystifying creatures, I accrued many nicknames, all of which were derivatives of my maiden name, Mullins. Mullet, mole, mully, moleymon, and mullinator were just a few of the monikers I received. As a teacher of early teens, I was in essence a silly referee at any given point during the day. Which was often, my favorite part of the job.
While my 8th grade audience imparted some influence in my life, they can't be held responsible for my propensity towards ridiculous. Let's be honest, I showed up in that classroom silly. At parent night one year, I was introducing myself to a classroom full of parent's and said the word "do" twice in a row in one sentence. Instead of continuing on with my informative diatribe like a professional should, I opted to pause and then pronounce to parents entrusting me with their children's education, "Oh, wow, I just said doo-doo." And then giggled nervously at the blank stares and somehow managed to scamper back on track.
So suffice it to say, I've come to grips with the fact that I was born this way and come from a lineage of silly. Or as my grandmother, Ouida (pronounced Wee-duh), would say, "she gets so tickled at herself." Like when I saw a cereal called Weetabix in the grocery store and decided that was a perfect nickname for grandmother from that day forward. And what a good, affectionate sport she was. Or, perhaps she was just overly graceful towards my genetic disposition towards all things bright and silly.
From early on I remember my paw-paw saying things at the dinner table just to make himself laugh. A memory, I do love. Hearing him laugh to himself over something silly he shared whether or not anyone else did. Life was too short, and sometimes too tough, not to laugh, and he lived laughter well.
For those of you who know my mom, you probably know her laugh. Another one in my direct lineage that chooses to laugh it out and has been known to take multiple walks on the silly side. She made family shirts for us when my sisters and I were younger featuring a watermelon and combining our family's last names (Waters and Mullins) so it read "The Watermullins." Since this was prior to the onset of the cynical teenage period, we wore them gladly and thought we were a family of comedians. All we needed was to trade our mini-van for a clown car and head out to an audition for MAD TV.
While my dad and I are not blood relatives, I did spend the majority of my growing up years around him. A man who has been known to vacuum the family cat to try to curb shedding, speak in a variety of accents, and always pick the odd, kid we didn't want to date and then refer to him as our boyfriend. In fact, even though I'm married now, it wouldn't be weird for him to tell me "hey, I saw your boyfriend (insert name) at the grocery store today." To which he would respond with a smile, and now, I would laugh, but in my teenage years, this is how I came to perfect the eye roll.
My sisters may initially paint me as the weird, silly one if asked. But let's go ahead and let the freshly vacuumed cat out of the bag. My older sister, Livvy, made up a song about her infant son with the lyrics "Jonah Roy Jernigan don't get a perm again," and when we were teenagers, helped me create the hit game "Burrito in the Microwave" where one person impersonates a microwave and the other person acts as the heated burrito. And my little sister, Emily, regularly uses the word "turlet" instead of toilet and once fashioned a grill out of aluminum foil, wrapped it around her teeth, and then smiled for the camera. Evidently, I have silly to the sides as well.
This brings me to my husband, Stephen. While we have no genetic relation (because that would be illegal and gross among other things), this is a man who regularly woos me with silly because he too, has an affection for the absurd. If you meet him, your initial impression may be that he is nice, laid-back, and perhaps even a little serious. All reasons why he is the major breadwinner of our family. While he is silly with those close, he knows when not to say doo-doo in a company meeting whereas I, clearly, do not. When we were dating he made me five tiny bunnies out of foam core, simply because it was ridiculous. And I loved them. Not because I'm a crazy bunny lady, but because I loved imagining him at work, crafting tiny bunnies while trying not to draw the attention of his co-workers, all because he knew I would find great delight in this silly gesture. He is also quick to make up stories about inanimate items which is eternally gold to me. Nothing like imagining the life of a chip clip shaped like a pig to take your mind off income taxes and the rising cost of health insurance for a blessed minute or two.
All of this is to simply say, our baby, which is baking up in my tummy as I type, has little chance of escaping some silly. The genetic odds are stacked in favor of lighthearted, laugh when no else is laughing, ridiculousness. I like to think it's in my tummy tap dancing, practicing its stand up right now, and giggling to itself about its rapid metamorphosis from an amphibious form with a real, live tail and paddle hands into a human baby.
To be perfectly clear and let another vacuumed kitty out of the baggy, we are medium with child (waddling every day closer to great) and due on January 4th. We couldn't be happier and more thankful that God would entrust two silly rabbits with a little life. Whether our baby arrives giggling, and telling yo mama jokes, or straight faced and pushing its imaginary readers up its nose, love already abounds and I look forward to the joys and challenges of parenthood with my best friend and baby-daddy.
God is a great giver and friend. He creates imagination, wit, babies and laughter. And then invites us to enjoy, observe, and partake with those around us. And sometimes, it's just a little more delightful in opera.
You should probably try it :)