June 27, 2012

Laughter is good for you

By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time

---- — Anyone over the age of 30 should remember the TV sitcom “Bewitched” with Samantha the “nice” witch; her “ordinary” husband, Darrin; her mother, Eldora; and her Aunt Clara.

Our family has a special connection to Aunt Clara. We have founded the “Clara Club.” We don’t idolize Marion Lorne, who played Clara. We, quite by accident, imitate her.

An online biography of actors states that Aunt Clara was “befuddled, muttering, doorknob collecting, bouncing into walls or conjuring up some type of unintended harmless witchcraft,” making Darrin and Samantha cringe most of the time.

Our Clara Club started a couple of years ago, when my daughter Tracey; my mother, Jean; my sister Sharon; and I decided life is way too serious. It’s time to laugh at your missteps, even if they are patterned after Aunt Clara.

We aren’t witches, and we don’t cast spells, but we do laugh at ourselves. For example, one day I was trying like heck to get a music cassette to play. I put it in, took it out, pushed buttons and complained to my husband, Toby, that the cassette player was broken.

He took a look, reached for the cord and plugged it in, and quite calmly said, “That was a Clara.” You get the picture.

Another time I was making Toby’s favorite oatmeal cookies. As I was mixing the last ingredients, someone knocked at the door. When I returned to the kitchen, I placed the doughy cookies onto the baking sheet. Fifteen minutes later, when I took the cookies out of the oven, I noticed they were like a pile of chunky sawdust, collapsed and not mounded like they should be. Then I noticed the unopened bag of flour. I had forgotten to add the flour! Clara Club … we ate them sprinkled over ice cream.

I was going to tattle on my mother, my sister and my daughter and tell you their “Clara” acts, but I love my family and don’t want to be thrown out. Anyway, at the moment, I wear the “Clara” crown, for the best Clara act. Read on.

I was at Walmart in Malone, hurrying to pick up a few items before a meeting. My car and house keys are on a purple-coiled wrist strap, bought to make sure I didn’t lose them. I made a quick stop at the ladies room and hung my purse on the hook. Giving the stall door a quick shove, I turned around to check to see if the potty was clean … and my keys flung off my wrist and into the toilet!

Now, this isn’t just any toilet. It’s one of those supersonic, flush-in-a-flash toilets, installed to cut down on germs. I thought, “Oh, my gosh, what am I going to do? That is probably one of the germiest places in Malone, and I have to put my hand in there to get my keys!”

My seconds-long thoughts fled quickly when I saw the little red light flashing on the back of the potty, telling me it was getting ready to flush. In a “Flash Gordon” second, (over 60 will remember him) I stuck my hand in the toilet, pulled my keys out and … WHOOSH … the toilet flushed.

I stood there, motionless, contemplating what had just happened, when it dawned on me, I had these germy keys in my hand, including the push-button one to the Toyota truck I was driving. I quickly placed the keys on the paper holder, finished my business and wrapped the keys in toilet paper. When I got to the sink, I soaked them, and my hands, with soap, hot water and sanitizer, repeatedly. I held them under the dryer, hoping they would dry enough to work on the truck. Thankfully, they did.

When I got back to my mother’s house, she asked how my shopping trip went. I thought about not telling her, but you can’t lie to your mother, even by omission. I started to laugh, and the whole story came out. My parents laughed till they cried. I’ll bet you readers are laughing right now at my Clara Club antics, right?

That’s OK. Laughter does the heart good. By the way, want to join a club? No meetings. No dues. You just have to commit a really ridiculous act and be able to laugh at yourself afterwards.

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.