People who do not consume alcohol are so boring aren’t they? Can’t laugh, can’t have fun, don’t know the jolly side of life. Dull chumps, party poopers and holier-than-thou hypocrites. Many of the poor sods aren’t even able to join in the merriment that alcohol fosters; or enjoy the jokes it helps unleash.
I encountered lately some instances of the magical effects of alcohol in enhancing our capacity for humour.
First, with a group of three serious ‘university academics’ chatting about some current issue, whilst walking to our cars after a ‘seminar’. One of them missed a step and had to skip on one foot to ensure he did not fall. The lady academic quickly commented, ‘Not drunk, are you?’ And the other three instantly broke out in loud laughter, which went on for about 30 seconds. I smiled too, to show I shared in the spirit of things. But I could not quite bring myself to guffaw like the rest. Maybe I had missed the joke. It could not be put down to my not being drunk at the time, since the other three weren’t either.
Second, with a group of relaxed colleagues after a talk at a medical seminar. The authorities had presented a cylindrical wooden ornament as a gift to the speaker – wrapped in fancy coloured paper. One of the group pointed to the wrapped gift and said, ‘Not a bottle of alcohol, is it?’ Everybody immediately broke out in laughter – and the merriment lasted quite some time, as in the previous instance. I smiled too, to show I shared in the spirit of things. But I could not quite bring myself to guffaw like the rest. Maybe I had missed the joke. It could not be put down to my not being drunk at the time, for the others there weren’t either.
Third, with some friends at a house party. Four of the menfolk were holding glasses of Scotch. In the course of conversation, one of the men lowered his voice and made a comment about his wife. It felt to me to be quite a nasty and vulgar statement and the others too appeared to be taken aback, momentarily. The man who made the remark concluded it and went on to hoot with laughter and the rest quickly joined in – guffawing louder and longer than the previous two instances. I could not bring myself even to smile, even as a sign that I shared in the spirit of things, which I certainly did not. Maybe I had missed the joke.
I recognize that alcohol is superb at helping people indulge their sense of humour. I worry that the jokes it helps generate are so subtle that I am not able to catch them.
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