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Gordon Kirkland: Justice Is Blind - And Her Dog Just Peed In MY Cornflakes
A collection of short humor about trying to survive life as a husband father and dog owner.
Nothing is sacred in the hands of humorist Gordon Kirkland. From video arcades to vasectomies, wheel chairs to weight control and mega-stores to marriage, Kirkland exposes the foibles of daily living with hilarity and honesty.
Winner of the 2000 Stephen Leacock award of Merit For Humour
In 1990, Kirkland sustained a severe spinal injury in a golfing accident--his car was rear-ended while he was on his way to a golf course ("It really screwed up my handicap"). In the years following his accident, laughter helped him cope with the stress and pain of his slow and difficult recovery, and the knowledge that he would not be able to walk again without the assistance of forearm crutches.
Here's Kirkland's unique sense of humor and outlook on life in the '90s. Meet "commutus obnoxiousi," more commonly known as Other Drivers ("The male of the species is sometimes called the Wet-lapped Swerver, because he tries to simultaneously steer, hold a coffee, answer the cellular phone and insert a stress reduction cassette tape into the stereo"). Or one of Kirkland's sons, "a teenage-grocery-sucking-appetite-on-legs" who is being taught to drive by his mother ("Diane gave me a very important duty to take care of while she and Mike are out driving. I'm in charge of hosing down the driveway every day. She wants the ground she'll be kissing to be clean when she gets home"). And Kirkland himself, enthusiastic and downright irrepressible, who, having been told that it takes fewer muscles to laugh than to cry, and being committed to energy conservation, chose to give his readers the chance to laugh with him, at him, and hopefully, at themselves.
Gordon Kirkland, born in Toronto in 1953, held management and executive positions both in private industry and the Canadian federal government before becoming a humor columnist and freelance writer over five years ago. His syndicated weekly column, "At Large," is a regular feature in a growing number of Canadian and American newspapers. Kirkland is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the BC Paraplegic Association. He lives in Pitt Meadows, BC with his wife Diane, two teenage sons, two cats and the dumbest dog to ever get lost on a single flight of stairs.
It's Always OK To Laugh - Unless It's At Me
Despite living with me for all these years, my family doesn't seem to understand when something is funny, and when it's not very funny at all. I'm writing this column so that they, and anyone who might be in your household who is similarly humor challenged, might gain a bit of understanding about when it's appropriate to laugh, and when it's not.
Basically, it all comes down to who is involved in an event. For example, if something amusingly unpleasant, scary, disgusting, or even mildly painful, happens to one of them, it's funny, and therefore appropriate to laugh. However, if something completely and utterly unpleasant happens to me, the other members of the clan should realize that this is not at all funny, and refrain from laughing - at least until I can't hear them.
An example of a humorous household incident occurred a few years ago.
I entered a contest that required me to take 20 photographs in the order they appeared on a list. One of them required an interesting scene that included an insect.
(At this point, you should understand that my wife is terrified of anything that remotely resembles a spider. If she turns the page in a magazine and sees a picture of a spider, the book will fly across the room.)
Mike, my oldest grocery-sucking-appetite-on-legs, got a rather realistic looking plastic spider, from one of those vending machines that gives a two-cent toy in return for fifty cents. I placed the toy spider inside a carefully cracked open and drained egg, with a couple of legs appearing out of the shell.
It was placed -- and looked quite photogenic I might add -- on the egg shelf in the refrigerator. After I photographed the scene, I went on to take the other pictures on the list. In my haste, I forgot to remove the eggshell the held the spider.
As soon as I heard the scream, I remembered the egg.
When I got to the kitchen, Diane was just regaining consciousness on the floor in front of the open refrigerator.
Obviously, the scene of my semi-conscious, arachniphobic wife, who had obviously discovered the realistic looking spider emerging from an egg in the refrigerator, might well be considered funny. Laughing at it would be a completely natural reaction. Diane didn't understand that, and, as a result of her underdeveloped sense of humor, became quite annoyed at my laughter.
On the other hand, an event that could never possibly be considered humorous occurred just this weekend.
I opened the refrigerator, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a snack item that the grocery-sucking-appetites-on-legs had obviously overlooked. There, on a side-plate, wrapped with cellophane, was some leftover meat pate.
I spread a generous helping on a cracker, and quickly discovered why no one had eaten the rest of this culinary delight. It tasted terrible. I re-wrapped it and returned it to the refrigerator, because I know that there is one person in this household who can eat disgusting things like broccoli without gagging, so I assumed the pate belonged to her.
When I mentioned my unappetizing experience to my dear, kind, loving wife, she gave me one of those deer-caught-in-the-headlights looks and said, "You didn't...?"
She tried to tell me I had eaten cat food, but I pointed out that the cat food was clearly visible on another shelf.
"Dear," she said, already starting to laugh, "I put cat food on that plate and mixed in her anti-flea medicine to make it easier to give it to her."
Clearly, this is not funny at all, because it didn't happen to one of them. If it had, we could have all shared a good laugh. Unfortunately, my humor-challenged spouse didn't understand the important difference in this situation.
Of course, she didn't want to keep her misplaced hilarity to herself, so she immediately shared my misfortune with my equally humor deficient sons. They too laughed uproariously. Another round of laughter ensued when one of them questioned my intelligence for even thinking that they might have left an uneaten snack item in the refrigerator for me to find.
And do you think they'd let it drop? Nnnnnnno-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o... Hours later, when I sat down at the dinner table, I discovered that I had been served cat food.
"We know it's your favorite, Dad," said one of the humor disenfranchised grocery-sucking-appetites-on-legs.
Despite my misfortune, and the annoyance I felt at my family's lack of understanding about when -- and when not to -- laugh, I was still able to find an upside to this event - when flea season starts this year, the animals and I won't have anything to worry about.