There are two kinds of people in this world – those who see life as a tragedy, and those who see life as a comedy. As someone who sees life as an absurdity, I think I may fall more into the latter camp. I don’t like crying. Like vomiting, I try to avoid it at all costs. And yet, I always seem to cry at precisely the moments I don’t want to – when I fell off an event at a gym meet, when my mom gets the better of me in an argument. When my teacher, who had spent the entire class period the day before picking on me, was the first to arrive at the scene where I had crashed my car in front of the entire school. When my ex broke up with me in a restaurant in a foreign country. I feel it signifies a weakness on my part – proof that I am capable of being wounded, an admission of defeat. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks – excusing myself to go to the bathroom, pretending that my contacts are acting up, and, much to the chagrin of my friends, finding the humor in the situation and laughing about it instead.
This last trick may seem like something akin to denial, or at the very least, indifference, but it does do the job. Just yesterday, my sister and I were at the movie theatre where we saw a preview for this terrifying movie called Unborn. We were only watching the preview and already I was pretty sure I was going to have nightmares (approved for all audiences, my ass). So I turned to my sister and made a joke. And I felt safer, less freaked out by what I had just seen. I made jokes when my grandfather was pulling some strange antics right before he died; I employed sarcasm on 9/11. And today I laughed uncontrollably over a commercial that showed a mob of people beating on a giant pinata.
I’ve never been one for slapstick – Mom always likes to tell stories about how I didn’t find it funny when cartoon characters got run over or had anvils dropped on them. I always pointed out, very seriously, that someone could have been hurt. I’ve learned to laugh at that stuff a bit now, but I tend to anthropomorphize and personify to the point where it makes it difficult to throw old things away (contrary to popular belief, it’s not because I have sentimental attachment to those things. It’s because I believe that those things will be hurt if I tell them I don’t need them anymore. F-ing Velveteen Rabbit). Most of the time I can keep myself in check, but every so often I find myself near tears over the emotional or physical harm being done to an inanimate (and in the case of the giant pinata, most likely a CG) object.
As I watched the pinata commercial, I thought about how scared the pinata must be when it dies. It must feel so alone swinging up in that tree and wondering why everyone hates it so much. I bet it’s surprised at how much it hurts the first time it’s hit, its terror mounting as the blows increase in frequency and intensity. It must feel so helpless, knowing that there’s no way out, that everyone is rooting for its demise, that everyone will keep swinging blindly at it, not even knowing the extent to which they are harming the poor pinata. I wonder if the pinata makes its peace with all this before that final blow, or if it merely dies wretched and confused. I wonder if the pinata dies when it is split open, or if it also must endure the additional torture of watching people descend upon its remains. The pinata must laugh when it sees what the fuss was all about, the reason for its death. I don’t even like candy that much.
I watched this commercial, and found myself dangerously near tears. So I made fun of myself for worrying about the feelings of a pinata. I made fun of the society that invented the concept of beating a candy filled donkey with a stick while blindfolded. And in place of my sobs came a semi-hysterical laughter.
I once made the mistake of telling my two best friends that I would laugh if they died in a freak accident. They mistook it for callousness, but I honestly think the absurdity of losing something so precious so quickly would leave me with no other recourse. It’s ridiculous – loss – when you think about it. How can you have something one minute and then not have it the next? Where does it go? Who takes it from you? And why?