I hoped this week that when our new carpet arrived I’d get an idea for a column, but the process was uneventful. I kept trying to make the installers laugh, but they pretty much just stared at the floor. The Olympics are over, so it’s too late for my jokes about the Uzbekistan/Bulgaria field hockey match.
The presidential election is always good for humor. Four years ago, I watched a lot of TV coverage of the contest, but at the time nothing funny occurred to me so I’m not optimistic this year. Occurring is exactly what the great humorists like Jon Stewart and Jerry Seinfeld have to do. They walk around the house, office, or supermarket, or read a newspaper until something occurs to them. Great humorists have always done this. Maybe it never occurred to you.
I decided to start occurring in the basement. I really shouldn’t call it a basement. When we moved into the house it was a basement, but we spent $15,000 to “finish” it. Actually we finished 75 percent of the basement and left 25 percent for storage. It occurred to me that the 75 percent we finished was being used the exact same way as the 25 percent for storage. And then it occurred to me that I blew 15 grand. I decided to go upstairs. Two occurrences were more than I could afford.
As I entered the laundry room, it occurred to me that the kitty litter needed changing. Then it occurred to me that I really don’t like cats. It’s my wife who loves the cats, yet it’s my job to change the litter. It never occurred to me before just how unfair this was. You can learn a lot about your marriage when you start occurring.
Attics are always full of interesting artifacts that bring back memories. I could rummage around the attic, try on some old clothes, look at scrapbooks, and read through old letters. Something funny would certainly occur to me there. This seemed like the perfect plan. Then it occurred to me: We don’t have an attic.
My wife suggested I go out to the garage for an occurrence. “Dick, don’t you see what a disgusting mess it is, filled with old empty paint cans, floor mats, rusty tools, decayed fertilizer, animal droppings and dry-rotted automobile tires? Doesn’t it make you realize how desperately you need to clean it up?”
“Sorry, it never occurred to me.”
I was getting desperate. My plan had failed. I was doing a heck of a lot of occurring, yet it was all essentially humorless. But there was one place I had not yet occurred — a place just ripe for a funny occurrence: The kitchen. I raced into the room and swung open the refrigerator door. Suddenly, dozens of good things started occurring to me. It occurred to me how many food items had passed their expiration date; it occurred to me how many tasteless non-fat foods were in our fridge; it occurred to me how many empty containers were on the shelves. I was in heaven. I told my wife all my funny occurrences.
“That’s great, Dick. But Dave Barry, Art Buchwald, Andy Rooney and Jerry Seinfeld have already written about that very topic. In fact, if I remember correctly, so have you.”
Yes, I was having trouble occurring, so I simply reoccurred.