By Susan Dromey Heeter,
This week I muse joyfully on the most wonderful, wonderful of events – the joyous, the raucous, the brilliant: the belly laugh. There truly is nothing better, nothing greater. And, brilliantly, I’ve had several this summer.
My friend Brian often remarks, “Comedy plus tragedy equals time.” I’m not sure who originally said this; it’s been attributed to Carol Burnett, Woody Allen, Cosmo Magazine.
All I know is that when I stood in line last Saturday, waiting for Rush tickets to see The Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway, I ended up chatting with a lovely couple who’d seen the performance twice, flown in from San Diego to watch it again, and hoped to score some cheap seats.
They were young, entertaining, we chatted easily as we sat on the pavement in front of the Imperial Theatre on West 45th. I asked them of other shows they’d seen, they told me of several and I admired their interesting lives and travel.
And then, I did the unthinkable, the unforgiveable, I asked the cringiest question of all – “Are you having a baby?” And, of course, my new friends were not expecting. The wife looked at me with that look that can only come from being asked something unspeakably invasive, “Oh, no, we’re not.”
And then that lighthearted chatter ended, my phone suddenly become a merciful and urgent distraction, I had sunk down that hole for which there is no light, no ladder, no exit. I was doomed.
And then, time passed. I got my tickets and walked to Times Square where I called my friend, Ellen and told her of my deed. And as only good friends can do, she both cringed and laughed, remarked, “Yup, you crossed that line, Susan, had to go there, had to ask.” And as we dissected the moment, I explained of the rounded belly and the empire waist dress – attempted to get some sympathy. And got none but did get a raucous laugh. Oh, the tragedy! And on Broadway no less!
When I told the story to a group of women back in Dover, everyone had their own tragedy to share – either having been asked that fateful question or asking it of someone else. A few friends had been on both ends, double winners. And we laughed. We guffawed. We all knew that moment of “Oh, damn – those words did just come out.”
Last night I had dinner with friends and last summer’s Olympic Games came up in conversation. And one diver in particular was the topic. No, we did not discuss his springboard or platform moves, twists and turns, we recalled his name: Steele Johnson. Yes, Steele Johnson.
Last summer we laughed at this particular name and a year later, it was still funny, still made us giggle like five year olds. “Hi, Dad, I’d like you to meet my boyfriend, Steele…Johnson.” Oh, dear God, the tragedy…..but, oh, the comedy.
I muse joyfully on the comedy of tragedy – what a gift that someday most things can invite a laugh…cringe worthy though the moment may be – kind of like this president, someday we will laugh.
May you muse joyfully on laughter this week – but perhaps refrain from asking anyone about their pregnancy or, if your last name is Johnson? Perhaps re-think the name Steele.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, debuts her new column “Joyful Musings” at InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.