A dear friend and mentor once told me a joke about the three ways people kiss. Through wide, pursed lips, mimicking a kiss on the forehead from your grandma, he announced, “Peaches.” Then, featuring the pinched, puckered-up lips of waspy PDA and besitos at your local gay bar, he declared, “Prunes.” In what can only be described as a hilarious sexagenarian attempt at tongues-gone-wild, he revealed the final type of kiss: “Al-FAL-fa!”
I heard him tell this joke several times over the few years that I was blessed to know him, and, every time, without fail, it elicited the same response- tremendous laughter and authentic smiles. That was who he was. He loved making people smile.
You Can’t Cry Your Way Out of This One
While he has since passed on, my mentor showed me, and frankly anyone he came in contact with, the importance of humor. When I came out to him and his amazing wife, I remember how he used some kind-hearted jokes to lighten the somber, almost ashamed tone I had set for the conversation. Looking back on it, I see how his sense of humor was meant to help himself and others to deal with the uncomfortable and difficult situations of life in a positive manner. It is exceedingly easy to throw a picnic blanket down by the rivers of Babylon and weep your little heart to pieces, but at the end of the day, guess whose ‘hind-in is still stuck in Babylon.
For us to truly, truly march through life’s thorns, thistles, and three-ways from hell, we have to be able to laugh at our experiences and ourselves. We have to stop taking ourselves so seriously. We’re special, don’t get me wrong. But we aren’t really that special. Whether we are a grandma kissing foreheads, a couple puckering up in public, or a tongue-flailing twink in heat, we are all members of the same, gloriously icky species which likes to show affection with lips and saliva.
We are children, friends, spouses, FWB’s, and life partners. We’re top-notch sneezers, coughers, belchers, and farters. We bump uglies, we eat ice cream, and our pee goes foamy after one too many beers. It’s all of this glorious ickiness, this wet and sticky grossness, which unites us as one human family. And it’s precisely because of this universal gag-factor that we should, no, we must, laugh at ourselves.
My challenge to you on this Valentine’s Day is this: think of something about yourself that is cringe-worthy or gross and celebrate it with laughter, whether that be your toxic post-burrito gas or the abomination that is your continued use of selfie sticks. Really get into it; you can even laugh at yourself in the mirror if you like. Just as peaches, prunes, and alfalfa are all delightfully funky in their own right, so too are we. With a dash of humor and a pinch of levity, we might just realize that it is precisely the gunk of our existence that makes it so damn beautiful. Even if we do not always recognize it, each of us is a gloriously icky, and beloved, child of God.