The secret to humour is surprise.
A moot point perhaps, but oblivious in this case to the signifiers that make the ‘everyday’ flow seamlessly from one interaction to the other; if they weren’t, you’d find yourself hopping madly all day. Whatever it may be, obvious, deliberate, debatable, moot? A couple of years ago my mother discovered a reservoir of previously untapped ‘ridiculous’. It’d become, after a fractious few years— a pleasure spending time with her, if not for the first time— but the first time in a long time. She’d seemed to be a little more understanding and accepting of my foibles, and I of them, which makes all the difference in the world. It helps relieve a little of the ‘complicated’. The fact that my mother’d discovered comedy and was making me snort on a regular basis was merely a bonus.
But this is irrelevant, a long-winded introduction and steady build up leading to a crescendo of noise— which is not entirely bunkum as it happens. It’s a story involving balloons…
My nephew loves balloons, especially the kind that when released, fly around exulting a harrowing scream, flitter then drop excitedly with one good spasm before expiring. Louis and I had been synchronising the take-offs of them all morning, much to the delight of the little man and thought what a wonderful idea it would be to release even more. Amz was on her laptop, but my mother was hands-free…
So Louis and I filled some balloons, gave them to her and instructed her that under no circumstances was she to release them. Even now, I feel as though I should’ve added something.
Anyway, Louis and I expended what little breath we had left into the remaining balloons and poised at the ready. The scene was to be spectacular; six whirling tubes of shrill screech, dancing unpredictably towards an enthusiastic death-knell. However, I failed to entertain the one element of unpredictability.
‘Ready,’ I said, ‘on one . Three… two… one… release…release…release!’
Louis and I had a successful launches. But my mother held firm. Even upon the final release! Even though the room was filled with the sound of screaming babies Even though the launch command had become a desperate, personal plea for her to relinquish her grip…
‘Why the bloody hell didn’t you launch? We’ve just done this ten times … at what point did you not think I was talking to you?’ A reasonable question in the circumstances I thought.
‘Because,’ she said, ‘you told me that under no circumstances was I to release them.’
Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled…
Not unlike those sodding balloons!