What brightens a gloomy day
better than a little humor? But let’s face it, not everyone can write
humor. It requires a keen sense of timing, imagination, and, above all,
a sense of humor. Moreover, what one person finds funny, might cause
someone else to groan in agony. Some like slapstick, and others enjoy
dry wit. What works for one person simply does not work for another.
This is particularly true in my
own family. Every now and then, my boys and I enjoy watching the Three
Stooges. We laugh until it hurts. We have even been known to imitate
Larry, Moe, and Curly/Joe’s antics. But it never fails that watching
even a few seconds of the stooges is enough to send my darling wife to
the opposite end of the house. On the other hand, Darla loves to watch
old-time musicals (someone shoot me, please), and she can often be
heard giggling with all her heart. Heaven help us all if her sisters
are watching the movie with her. The boys and I have to leave home.
I don’t know about you, but I
love putting my characters into all kinds of ridiculous situations,
hoping to earn a grin or two from my readers. Usually, I set them up
over the span of several chapters so the reader can feel the tension
building, and when the trap is finally sprung, it makes the payoff so
much more rewarding.
Many writers may draw on those
extremely embarrassing true-life experiences that happen to us all. I
don’t know about you, but these kinds of events seem to be the story of
my life. And often as not, the true-life craziness is stranger than
anything I could ever make up. Who says that God doesn’t have a sense
Just for fun, I’d like to share
one of those true-life experiences. I hope it inspires you in some way
as you write your next novel, or at least gives you a laugh at my
expense. My true story happened several years ago on a sunny Tuesday
afternoon. I had to make a quick trip to town to get supplies for the
youth meeting later that night. Luckily for me, I live in a rural area,
so it happened on a country road without too many folks to see.
As I was driving to town, a
giant hornet flew in my window, zipped past my face a couple of times,
and ended up buzzing against the passenger-side window. Unfortunately,
that old van did not have electric windows. I looked up ahead. I was in
a 25 mph zone and no cars were coming. As quick as I could, I reached
across to the passenger-side window and hurriedly cranked it down with
my fingertips. I swatted at the hornet, trying to shoo it out the
window, but the hornet wasn’t about to be budged.
When I looked up I realized I
was over the centerline, and a wide-eyed lady in a small car was coming
straight at me from the opposite direction. I quickly pulled back into
my own lane, trying
hard to avoid the poor lady’s
expression. As soon as she passed, I looked over and was relieved to
see that the hornet was no longer there. Having not learned a thing, I
reached across the car and quickly rolled the window up.
But before I’d gone very far,
the hornet buzzed by my left ear, and landed on the window next to me.
I rolled it down as fast as I could, but once again, the little beast
refused to go. Like before, I looked up to see that I was edging over
the centerline. I cranked on the wheel, and glanced around for the
I did not see the little critter
anywhere. Feeling fairly certain that it must have flown away, I turned
my thoughts on the night’s youth meeting.
That’s when it happened.
I couldn’t see the hornet
anywhere, but I could definitely feel it. As anyone who has ever hired
a plumber will tell you, there is a natural path down the backside of a
man’s pants for a bee to travel. And it did.
“Yelp!” It stung me on the left
cheek. “Help me, Jesus!” It struck again (hornets can sting multiple
times). As fast as I could, I pulled the van over, parked, and ran
around to the other side of the road. I started to unhitch my pants
until I noticed a nearby house. The windows were dark, but it looked as
if a small face might be watching from within. I yanked up my pants
and hurried back into the van. The little fiend stung me again. Even
worse, it was headed south.
I jumped back inside and raced
up the road. A quarter-mile farther I found an unpopulated spot, pulled
over, and positioned the van so I could finally be well hidden from all
onlookers. Then the little devil stung me again and again. In a frantic
rush, I dropped my pants and then peeled off my Fruit-of-the-Looms,
turning them inside out. The hornet flew off in an angry huff. I don’t
think he liked the experience any more than I did. Serves him right—the
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my
little story. I’ll spare you bee puns for now. Maybe someday I’ll tell
you about the bear that met me outside my front door, or the cute
little family of skunks. Until next month, don’t forget to inject a
little humor into the stories you write.