Laughter is good medicine

April 11, 2014 

A good laugh can be good for the soul.

I like to hear and tell amusing stories. From a library of them I have heard, saved and told over the years, I want to share four with you.

Funny things occur almost daily, in a multitude of places, including homes, schools, workplaces, churches and. yes, even in courtrooms. From an email sent to me more than a decade ago by Grover Dees, I gleaned a report of the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal, which recorded the following questions asked of witnesses by attorneys during trials and, in certain cases, the responses given by insightful witnesses. (My apologies to attorneys.)

•  “Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?”

•  “The youngest son, the 20-year old, how old is he?”

•  “Were you present when your picture was taken?”

•  “Were you alone or by yourself?”

•  “Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?”

•  “Did he kill you?”

•  “How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?”

•  “You were there until the time you left, is that true?”

•  “How many times have you committed suicide?”

•  Q: “She had three children, right?” A: “Yes.” Q: “How many were boys?” A: “None.” Q: “Were there any girls?”

•  Q: “You say the stairs went down to the basement?” A: “Yes.” Q: “And these stairs, did they go up also?”

•  Q: “Mr. Slatery, you went on a rather elaborate honeymoon, didn’t you?” A: “I went to Europe, sir.” Q: “And you took your new wife?”

•  Q: “How was your first marriage terminated?” A: “By death.” Q: “And by whose death was it terminated?”

•  “Can you describe the individual?” A: “He was about medium height and had a beard.” Q: “Was this a male or female?”

•  Q: “Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice that I sent to your attorney?” A: “No, this is how I dress when I go to work.”

•  Q: “Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?” A: “All my autopsies are performed on dead people.”

•  “All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?” A: “Oral.”

•  Q: “Do you recall the time that you examined the body?” A: “The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.” Q: “And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?” A: “ No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.”

•  Q: “You were not shot in the fracas?” A: “No, I was shot midway between the fracas and the naval.”

•  Q: “Are you qualified to give a urine sample?” A: “I have been since early childhood.”

•  Q: “Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?” A: “No.” Q: “Did you check for blood pressure?” A: “No.” Q: “Did you check for breathing?” A: “No.” Q: “So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?” A: “No.” Q: “How can you be so sure, doctor?” A: “Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.” Q: “But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?” A: “It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.”

Let me share a three of my favorite yarns. One relates to sound and smell.

A 5-year-old girl received a wrist watch and a bottle of perfume for her birthday. She approached every house visitor, wanting them to listen to her watch and to smell her perfume. Finally, the mother had had enough. So with company coming for dinner, she told the girl not to mention the gifts to anyone. The little thing stood it as long as she could and then announced to the table guests, “It anyone hears anything or smells anything, it’s me.”

Another yarn concerns a prayer request. A lady asked her pastor to pray for her husband during a Sunday morning service. “He has a dangling kidney,” she said. “You know I can’t be that specific in my prayer,” the pastor responded. “Well, you did last week when you prayed,” she protested. “What did I say?” the pastor asked. The woman answered, “I heard you pray for all the loose livers.”

A final yarn concerns an unsuccessful politician. I read a book written by a judge in Western North Carolina. He wrote about a man who ran unsuccessfully several times for public office. He was a Democrat in a strongly Republican area. His several failures to be elected made him so despondent that he decided to commit suicide. To make sure his attempt was successful, he went to a hardware store, where he bought several items: a rope, some rat poison, a pistol and a can of kerosene, after which he took all those items with him down to the river. He stepped into a boat, tied the rope around his neck and to an overhanging limb, doused himself with kerosene, swallowed the rat poison, set himself afire and held the pistol to his head and fired. The bullet went awry, cutting the rope in two, throwing him into the water, which doused the flames and caused him to throw up the rat poison. He swam out, changed parties and ran on the Republican ticket and won.

Go ahead and laugh a little. It can do wonders for you and for others.

Ray Hodge is a retired pastor who makes his home in Smithfield.

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