Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Beard, Spider Man, Baseball and Compassion

I have recently grown a beard. I now realize that I have always had a stereotype/prejudice against people with beards. Especially the black ones. My beard is thin and has a lot of white in it. I wish it was a little thicker and blacker.

I was thinking of getting some Just for Men beard dye- but my former self promised he would never do that. My beard pisses off skin heads cuz it shows that black and white can live together in peace.

I have a good friend who I just spent ten hours in a car with road tripping to a gig. He was struggling big time with breaking up with his girlfriend. Talking about it for eight hours at some point I was just using the cliches... “Don’t worry Matt, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.” But since the BP spill, not so much.

The Braves are awesome this year and that makes life a little better. Slumps are inevitable. Gotta remember that when doing comedy also. Sometimes jokes just aren’t funny to me any more. Sometimes my sense of humor is dark and I come off as an asshole, sometimes the new stuff needs a lot more work and I am trying to grind it out.

Saw a story on line about the casting for the new Spiderman movie. There was a campaign to cast a black actor. The headline of the story was- Why can’t Spider Man be a Black Guy? Why can’t Spider Man be black? I don’t know- cuz he isn’t. Why can’t Babe Ruth be a black guy? What about Fat Albert, why does he have to be black? Why can’t he be a skinny white guy? “Hey, hey, hey this cracker’s here to stay.”

I am just saying. Somethings just are what they are.

They say black is thinning. Unless you are that actress from Precious. How big would she look if she was white?

I am learning about compassion from five year old son Owen. While brushing his teeth last month he leaned forward and jumped up to spit in the sink, smacking his nuts into the cabinet door knob. He was hurt. And upset by my gut reaction- which was to laugh. That upsets him. He said, “It’s not funny! You always laugh when I hurt myself. It is not funny.”

I know it hurts son, I am laughing because it looks funny, like when we laughed at that Charlie Chaplin video where people got hit in the face by boards or fell down holes.

“Oh, but it isn’t very funny.”

He is of course right, physical comedy isn’t solidly written comedy. Which makes me laugh...

Owen made me realize that I need to be more aware of that, be genuinely sympathetic for him, and remember it is not funny when you are the one in serious pain.

But, it is hard not to laugh when a football goes through his hands and pounds him in the face. It just looks hilarious.

Looking back, he is right. I laugh all the time when he bumps himself or smacks his head into a door knob. I think that early on in a babies life, we as parents realize that a child’s level of reaction to a fall or bump somehow correlates to your reaction as a parent.

I have taken his feelings to heart and recently when he gets hurt in some funny looking way, I bite my tongue and try to make sure he sees I sympathize. We play baseball a lot with a tennis ball. A few weeks ago I hit a line drive off his face and as he ran to get the ball I could see he was hurt. So after I got to first base, I went and made sure he was okay. Even though I most likely could have taken second.

This week we were playing and he was crowding the plate, so I threw a little too inside to back him off. He had plenty of time but didn’t make a single move to get out of the way. The ball hit him square in the eye. It looked funny as shit. Until he started to cry.

I knew in the over all he was fine, so I really had to bite my lip and get to compassion. I consoled him and he quickly started to feel better and wanted to continue batting. I was walking to the “mound” and started joking with him about how he didn’t even try to get out of the way.

“Way to keep your eye on the ball son.”

And then a very cool thing happened. He laughed hard.

That was the first time I can remember him having the ability in his mind to make the intellectual connection required to laugh at the use of language. He even made a point of repeating the joke at the end of his ‘getting hit in the eye story’ later to mommy.

So, what did I learn? That my son makes me proud. He teaches me, and on top of that, at five he already appreciates basic comedy writing structure over physical comedy.

I was helping Owen with his homework. The section called for coloring with a dark crayon. I told him, “Yellow is not a dark color.” Owen says, “it can be- if you press down real hard.”

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