Thursday, September 07, 2006

Not the funniest kid in the room

I was a very lonely kid. I didn't have a lot of friends, and I experienced school as a long, unpleasant wave of rejection. I made friends in college, but moving to the Upper West Side was like being back in high school.

I've lived in NYC long enough to have a reasonable crop of friends, even if they inconsiderately insist on getting married and leaving the area. But I really want the other students in my program to like me, because I'll be hanging out with them for years. I suppose that's normal; everyone wants to be liked and respected by their peers.

Tonight was a little disappointing for me. I'm in a very small evening class -- 12 students -- on a boring topic. It's been a long day, we're all tired, and none of us want to be there. So I tried to make a few jokes to lighten the mood.

Nobody laughed. It was like dead air on the radio.

I pride myself on my sense of humor. At my last job, I was excellent at telling jokes to enliven boring meetings. So it's a shock to perform, so to speak, and not get any applause. When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to be the class clown, so I tried to be funny, and it didn't work so well; the other kids mainly thought I was weird.

But now I'm funny. Really funny. In my master's program, I cracked up my fellow students on a regular basis. In fact, once I made a professor laugh so hard, he had to shut his eyes and lean on the blackboard, tears streaming down his face. The class was laughing too.

The course was in child development, and the prof was talking about Freud's oral stage of development. He said that when he was in college, he had a girlfriend who grew up on a farm, and she loved to let the baby calves lick and suck on her fingers.

"And that's why you didn't marry her?" I asked. It brought the house down.

But tonight -- nothing! My only consolation for the lukewarm reception of my attempts at humor -- well, actually there were two -- was, one, the professor, who was making valiant attempts to be amusing (and he wasn't half bad) wasn't getting any laughs either. Two, I rode the subway part of the way home with another student, and she seemed pretty willing to talk to me. So I guess I didn't totally lose face with my classmates.

But I really need to shut up in class. No more jokes. This class is a tough crowd. I don't want them to think I'm a crazy old lady. There was one of those in my master's program; she always made strange, irrelevant comments that no one wanted to listen to. I don't want to be like her.
Copyright (c) 2006 "Ayelet Survivor"

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