I grew up in a funny family, not funny like we kept jars of body parts in the basement, but legitimately humorous. When we get together, everyone is either talking about how much they hate certain sports teams and players or we are laughing at something that one of us said. The kind of humor that prevails in my family is the witty retort, and story telling. (and my niece tells a pretty mean knock knock joke) My family has been funny since I can remember which is where my story comes in. A funny joke is something that you can look up on the internet (why doesn't Smokey the Bear have any children?... Every time his wife gets hot he beats her with a shovel.), but that's a funny joke; it doesn't necessarily mean that the person that told it is funny. Being able to tell a story and especially a funny one, is a skill that takes years to craft and that some people never obtain (my dad always sidetracks for pointless details and never gets to the point fast enough(which is coincidentally, or genetically what I am doing now with parenthesis). The point is, it takes a lot of stories and punchlines with long pauses of confused and awkward silence that follow, until someone can really hone their craft. This is where my story begins.
I was in sixth grade in Riverton, WY and coming from a funny family, I am sure that I thought I was God's gift to comedy. In science class we were studying topography and we were making maps from markers and pieces of that long paper that comes off a roller like fabric at a JoAnn's. In my witty wisdom, I decided that I would make my map hilarious by making my land mass in the shape of a person and then naming all of the parts of the map zany names like "Stench Bay" for the body of water occupying the armpit and Schnoz peak for the mountain that constituted the nose. Let's face it people, sixth grade humor doesn't get any better than that. I was so proud of myself that I showed everyone in the class how incredibly hilarious I could be with names like The Great Groin Sea and The Chesty Mcforest Forest. (in retrospect, the chest should have been the Tetons, but I was 11, leave me alone.) While this may be all well and good for the kids in the class the embarrassment that I feel when I think about this comes when I remember the teacher's aid. Each semester a graduate student would volunteer as a teacher's aid to get experience in the classroom (and prepare them for the incredible world of making 20k/year). I must have gone over every pun filled crevice of that man map looking for laughs from that poor aid. I grind my teeth when I think about the effort that she must have had to rummage up to feign even a morsel of interest in the ridiculously asinine attempt at hilarity that was my map. I imagine myself looking up at her after I read off each area looking for a laugh, or even a smirk and as her eyes whipped back to me, realizing that I was now looking at her and not my map, she would say, "well... that's very... imaginative?" So I guess what I am saying is that if a kid tells you a joke or shows you something they think is just the funniest thing in the world, don't placate them. You tell them how stupid and unfunny their joke really is, so they don't look back a decade later and realize how uninterested you really must have been and how hard it must have been for Ms. Stenders to pretend that she gave a crap about your map. Do you hear me Ms. Stenders?! Why did you lie to me? You dishonest, placating piece of *clears throat*.
Looking back at it, I feel silly for being embarrassed at something so harmless, but I also cringe that someone had to tolerate something that I thought was hysterical that was obviously so devoid of humor it would make a clown cry. Thus are the growing pains of someone who wants to be funny I guess.