2017-02-01 / Columns

Looking forward to celebrating with my own ‘funny Valentine’

SALLY’S WORLD
SALLY FRIEDMAN

When I was a college junior, I made a list of what I wanted in a husband. For some reason, I saved that list. And I cringe when I read it.

At that stage, we tend to think in a limited sphere.

The man I was going to marry would be tall, and probably blonde. He had to dance well. Smart would be good. And hopefully someone with what our mothers back then called “a future.”

Nowhere on that list was anything about character. Or honor. Or humor.

Two weeks after I graduated from college, I married my husband. Yes, very young by today’s standards. But quite average back in 1960.

Vic wasn’t especially tall. Nor did he have that sun-bleached blonde hair that an actor from that era named Tab Hunter did.

He was a decent dancer, but not a sensational one. And he was already a newly-minted lawyer, so the future was actually the present.

How lucky I was that this man I’ve loved for 56 years turned out to be not just honorable, not just sterling in character, but also…a master raconteur and really, truly funny.

From the moment we met, I knew that he had a marvelous sense of humor. He told jokes well, something that can be painful to witness if it’s done poorly. My late father, an incurable punster and joke-teller himself, was absolutely delighted to find a kindred spirit in this new son-in-law.

But I never thought much about that side of my new husband. So young, so preoccupied with my job, his job, then babies tumbling into our lives, I just took it as a given that Vic could make me laugh. It was nice.

But as marriage—and life— brought the trials and tribulations that they do, it started to click: No matter how awful or scary or hopeless things seemed, Vic would somehow lift me with a light comment, a funny observation, a tease.

No big deal, you think?

I can tell you that it’s a very big deal.

Of all the things I love about my lifetime Valentine, wit and humor are right at the top of the list.

Who knew that laughter would become our emotional glue, a respite from the storms when the world seemed out to get us.

Who knew that when the world made my cry, Vic could still make me laugh, sometimes while tears still streamed down my face.

His humor is a gift. I accept it greedily.

Laughter heals when the world wounds.

It restores when we’re depleted.

Somebody once observed that marriage is a bungee jump, a lifetime leap into the unknown. And it is. It’s heavy going some of the time. It’s uncharted territory, even years into the bond.

That’s why my husband’s flashes of humor, especially in our stressful times are so kind, so forgiving, so generous. And yes, so loving.

That all came home to me in such an unexpected way.

Like so many of you, some years ago the world stopped to watch the royal wedding of the beautiful Kate and her handsome Prince William. I swooned over her dress, the pomp and circumstance, the fairy tale quality of it all.

And somewhere in all that pageantry, long after the formal ceremony, there was a micromoment when the TV cameras caught William leaning towards Kate, saying something. And in the next second, she was laughing delightedly. Nothing forced for the cameras. Genuine giggling.

I remember thinking “Yes, Kate, that’s what it’s really all about. Just that moment of laughing together, repeated endlessly through the years.”

Shared humor may be the unsung but uncommon treasure of loving long and well. Laughter sweetens a marriage. It puts a gloriously positive spin on life.

To be able to laugh at the indignities that rain down upon us with someone is sweet, sweet nectar.

So yes, I’ve forgotten about the tall dancer and the guy with blonde Tab Hunter hair.

I’m in love with a man who makes me laugh every single day of our lives together.

So often, that phrase from the wonderful old song, “My Funny Valentine” comes back to me:

“You make me smile with my heart.”

And yes, what a blessing that is!

pinegander@aol.com

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