Puppies and Rainbows

You have to know Brian. He’s a man of slender build with years of height near mine, definitely more scalp than hair, a hurried gate accompanied by slightly longer arms than the average human, and – without giving him too much credit – near perfect execution of the “puppies and rainbows” gesture. A gesture, mind you, having its genesis in the midst of what I believed to be a fine proprietor/customer relationship.

See, Brian owns The Capitol Hotel. If you are a frequent reader, you’ll recognize this place. It’s a gateway to my morning silly-zone where I can be a sitter out of sorts with a crew of ne’er-do-wells I call my friends. There’s an old retired guy, another retired guy, a slightly older lady, sometimes a guy my age, an artistan I write about on occasion, … Oh, and a waitress. At times, slithering by I see peripheral pals and palettes passing by as well. I have examined, appraised, and evaluated all … concluding if a week went by without them in front of my bad jokes and goofy morning temperment, life wouldn’t be the same – for any of us.

This past January wasn’t much different. The first week of the new year began as any other. I walked in through the first set of glass doors taking a few steps before knobbing my way past the creaky old door into the main counter area. With huge glass/brass mirrors and dark, beet red booths always there to greet hungry patrons like me, this hotel in the ‘burg is like no other even in 2021. Covid seating restrictions forced my eyes downward to the empty seat poles strewn intermittently across the counter floor. Some booth seats then, and to this day, are tilted up to prevent seating on one side. Masked matrons scurried about taking orders as I strode my way over to the far corner booth to take my place among the sort-of welcoming warmth I saw on the faces of my friends.

Something was different that day, however. Quiet isn’t the norm … and then I figured it out.

They were waiting to see my reaction regarding a story broadcast the previous night. Our local news station ran a small story about something I did New Year’s Eve with my business. What I did isn’t relevant here, however, what I said during the interview is…

Prior to the interview, I agreed to talk with the understanding I could promote this blog site. She agreed. Cameras rolling, we discussed my event New Year’s Eve, then it happened. Now, I don’t really recall saying the words, but upon review later, I did.

She asked me, “Could you tell me about your blog, Doug Hugs?.” “Sure, I write about happy things. You know. Like puppies and rainbows.”, came the reply out of my unprepared, stunningly oblivious orifice.

I got it. If I had a friend entering the hallowed breakfast nook after seeing his blogous facial faux pas the night before, I’d remain silent until he spoke. After all, maybe the word circus had more crazy out-of-context clowns in his tiny mind’s blather bus.

Turns out, I didn’t. That circus left town. It was in-tents for a few seconds, though. Once all the laughter settled and good-natured ribbing calmed into friendly conversation about the entire interview, the morning unscrambled and life went about its normal routine until … until Brian – yes, that same Brian who finds his way into my wallet almost every day – decided to animate the very three words I’ve come to regret ever saying: Puppies and Rainbows.

“Hey, Doug! …”

With two hands dangling in front as puppy paws then extending upward and outward (gracefully, I may say) in a rainbow arc, he changed, forever, my idea of a Richard Simmons/Mikhail Baryshnikov collaboration with Bob Fosse for an adaptation of “Three Words of Regret.”

Why today, over three months later? This gesture migrated beyond The Capitol. Today. In a friendly local bread aisle where others were rising with the sun’s expectations, Brian and I had a moment at his insistence. A puppy and rainbow moment, mind you.

What was once a simple recognition of my slippery mouth muscle inside an isolated hotel, has now become a greeting – in Brian’s brain – outside the hotel café when he sees me. Oh, boy.😏. A reflex of two hands inside another building when he saw me later this morning. A Hollidaysburg happening hopefully no one saw occurring between two fifty-year-olds picking up a few items to sooth an already busy day for both.

This isn’t a secret handshake to enter a treehouse, or a password to get into some secret society. Apparently, now, it’s a dude-thing and I don’t know how to respond except to say, “Whelp, thanks Brian. At least your kind, err, gesture today took my mind off an extremely busy day and gave me some pleasant, kind thoughts as I ran my butt off for twelve hours.”

Next time an interviewer asks me about Doug Hugs, I may just say, “Kangaroos, and yoyos”. Let’s see Brian pull that off!

Word Worms

John Branyan says we were created with a little bit of stupid in us. All of us. He’s a comedian I found on DryBar comedy. He comedically claims, “God put something stupid in every one of (us) … that the rest of the world is supposed to laugh at. So, when you cover something up that people are supposed to laugh at, you are covering up a blessing. Recognize your own stupidity then share it with the ones you love.” That is, laugh – according to John.

His follow-up example to illustrate the point is how we, as mature adults, always give the obligatory “honk your horn” arm pump to large, passing trucks on the highway. That, in itself, isn’t funny as I listened to his delivery. My mind didn’t jive with his thought; however, when he proposed the idea of the truck driver returning a gesture to “honk our little horns”, I understood why he is the comedian and I’m not. He continues, “We don’t pass a construction zone and (pretends to use a jack hammer) expecting them to say, ‘Hey, let’s do that for the passers-by’ (my edit here)” … “Comedy is built into the fabric of our society, DNA.”, as he says.

You can’t be serious all the time. Even a local grocery store, in their attempt to sell popcorn to the masses, finds a comedy error in a sign of the times:

I don’t need 8 ounces of sensual experiences at the local grocery store. If I did, not quite sure what $2.49 cents each would get me, anyway. At close to 2/3rds the way through my life if actuarial tables hold true, spending less IS very tempting because I’m not doing well in the retirement savings department. Where popcorn participation falls in the Redenbacher ridiculousness of this Weis wonderment, I’ll never know. Caramel sticks to my teeth and that’s more important to avoid than whatever two Washingtons and a few quarters would ever get me. With that, I’ll pass on carnal popcorn for now.

There’s my friend, Joel. Now, before you get ahead of me here, there’s no connection to the popcorn. None. There is a link to comedy and humor, though. He’ll not admit it, but there is. A chain of events always lead to his upsetting my affable apple cart. The absurdity of this relationship is the bait I always take … and laugh about later while driving away … alone … thinking through a series of sentences he artistically bobs in the water. I consider the things in his life I’m supposed to laugh at while noshing on a bagel, but end up digesting my own “crazies” a half-hour later.

To be serious for a moment, my jokes ARE funny, original, and clever. He can’t see his way through the normal in life to appreciate coffee-time flair. He responds, not reacts, which is very positive. Even in the daily, “You’re not funny … You think you are, but you’re not.” responses, he’s complimenting me. I see this no other way. “Shhh … Just be quiet.”, is another. Yeah, not going to work. I’m respectful, kind, and pleasant. But, hey, … if I hear an opening for word wizardry or playful bantering, I’ll jump in to keep the conversation between my friends lively and interesting. Mike, Sue, Jim, … Joel and others need this in the morning.

There is always one final barb from Joel that gets me, however. Hard to nail down the exact words. They are a blur in my memory. Might as well figure he knows what those few phrases are a few feet under the water where my sensitivities swim. He says something to upset me. Once I take the bait, his laugh is genuine as he reels in my insecurities and rage at, once again, being lured by the rod of ridiculousness. I do think he derives great merriment at this game – as I do moments later recognizing my stupidity once again.

We have these friends who do this to us, don’t we? As a matter of record, these very friends will also do anything we need at any time as well. He was the first to help me last Friday when the wind damaged my concession window. He’s been a continuing friend in matters personal when I stop by his workshop to talk or watch his mastery on the lathe or admire his woodworking artistry. We’ve argued over poker rules when he knows I’m right and upsets my chip stacks. In years past, there have been times I’ve needed help and he’s been there for me.

I know I’m not crazy or anywhere near it. I am a bit gullible, of course. I’m fortunate to have a friend who recognizes this and, despite accepting my higher level of humor and humility, still welcomes me at his breakfast table a few days a week inside a hotel cafe.

Appreciate the little bit of stupid in yourself and share it with the world. Find a few friends who see it in you and laugh with them. John kinda has it right. I believe most of the comedians see all the crazy in the world and make us laugh.

Joel sees my “non compos mentis” and responds accordingly – with respect and admiration. He’s clearly not a comedian. Artist, yes. Humorist to any degree, not really. DryBar comedy won’t be calling him anytime soon. For that matter, my phone won’t be buzzing, either. Neither Joel nor I expect fame or fortune from our words – comedic or otherwise. I’ll continue to pour out my soul and he’ll do what he does … put a few more tasty word worms on the hook.

…and I’ll bite once again.