I am going to start this post with a quote from my boyfriend, Michael. Actually, I am going to start this post by retiring Michael’s title of “boyfriend,” in honor of my feisty friend Sarah, who used to work with me and who gave me a hard time every time I used that term.
What are you two, fifteen years old?
Sarah would say. And since I am about to turn sixty-one years young1 tomorrow, maybe it’s time to heed Sarah’s advice, and stop using the term “boyfriend.”
But how else should I refer to Michael? Here are some possibilities:
None of those sound great to me, for various reasons. I’m not sure why “boyfriend” has always seemed like the best choice, so far. Perhaps, the terms we hear when we are young are difficult to shake.
A logical replacement for “boyfriend” would be …. “manfriend.” But nobody says that. If I did use that term, that would be too distracting. That would derail people from any story I wanted to tell about Michael.
One more thing, before I get back on track. I supposed I could just refer to Michael by name, with no identifying title. That always seems self-centered and unhelpful, though. Why should I expect anybody to remember the name of my boyfriend/partner/old man/main squeeze/significant other/manfriend … without a helpful hint? Or remember my name, for that matter?
Maybe people should remember, though! Maybe we’re important enough to be remembered, without any identifying information, dammit!
Anyway, let me start this post over.
This post is about a phrase that Michael says to me, quite often. It’s kind of a joke, a running gag, between us.
Picture this, if you will. I come home from work, walk up the stairs, and enter through the back door, into the kitchen. I am often pretty tired, and I immediately sit down at the same table where I write this blog.
Let me set the scene, with a photo of that table:
That’s not a great photo, actually, to give you an accurate picture, since there are other distracting elements in that shot. I’ll check my photo stash and see if I can do a better job …
…. Nope. Can’t find a better photo, right now.
I suppose I could take a new photo of the table, but the light isn’t correct (it’s the wrong time of day). Also, I’d have to find my friggin’ phone to take it.
Maybe, just maybe, setting the scene accurately isn’t quite as important as I sometimes think. In any case, back to the story.
So, after I return home from work, I sit down at the table where I write this blog. Michael is usually in the kitchen, making dinner. If not, he comes into the kitchen. He greets me:
How was your day, babe?
or words to that effect. I then tell him what’s foremost on my mind from my day at work (of course, leaving out any details as dictated by confidentiality). When I’m finished talking, Michael will usually respond, with our running gag, like so:
Everybody loves you, Ann.
And I smile. Or laugh. It never gets old.
Well, even though Michael has said this many, many times, there’s always some element of surprise.
I am rarely — if ever — feeling universally lovable, as I’m telling my work-a-day stories. I’m sharing what has lingered from the day and — as I’ve often written about here — the negative sticks. So, my stories are often tinged with regret, worry, concern, or at least a wish to learn from mistakes I’ve made.
So Michael’s response, no matter how often I’ve heard it, surprises me, on some level. And, as many Humor Experts 2 have opined: When we laugh, it’s an expression of the unexpected.
Sometimes, when I return home after work, I’m feeling great — very much in touch with pride in my work and with my gratitude for doing work I value and enjoy. In those cases, when Michael says
Everybody loves, you, Ann
my laugh expresses joy (or celebration, which I wrote about recently).
And, no matter how I’m feeling after work, I can always appreciate the absurd in Michael’s response. No matter how worthy and lovable we are, no matter how much I may yearn for Michael’s statement to be true … not everybody is going to love us. It’s impossible.
And that’s okay. We can still survive, thrive, and keep on going.
Okay! I’ve got to end this post, because I’ve got an appointment with Mia 3, very soon.
Thanks to Sarah, Michael, Mia, my old4 student Chris Delyani (whose book is in the photo above), everybody I love, people who love me, and everybody who has ever loved or been loved by anybody. And, more thanks to you, for visiting and reading today.
I hear Mel Brooks‘s voice in my head as I say this, thanks to his 2000 Year Old Man albums. Thanks, Mel!
Despite any expectations on your part, there are no helpful details about humor experts in this footnote. (This gag never gets old for me, either.)
Mia is the woman who cuts my hair. Just as I have trouble finding a good title for Michael, I never know what to call Mia, either. My hairdresser? No, that’s my mother’s term. My stylist? Too pretentious and not accurate, since I don’t experience myself as being “styled” in any way. Also, I feel uncomfortable using the possessive term “my” about people in my life. Feel free to make suggestions about what I might call Mia (or Michael, too, I suppose).
I never know what word to use in this situation, either, since “old” has such negative connotations. Chris isn’t old; I just met him a long time ago, when I was teaching a class at Boston University. Feel free to make suggestions about what word to use here, also.