Humor is an interesting phenomenon. What’s amusing to one person might not be funny to someone else. My humor tends to be deadpan, so people often think I’m entirely serious when I’m actually joking. Oh how I love the people—The Lady of the House, Madame C, Nolagirl—who bust out laughing when I’m not even trying to be funny. To be thought hilarious is to be known and understood.
My humor fell short recently.
In the mercantile where I work, we sell a lot of souvenirs. What most everyone wants is a souvenir sporting the name of the trail they just visited. They don’t want something stamped with a vague “California” or “National Forest.” They want their very specific destination emblazoned on hats, shirts, mugs, shot glasses, magnets, and Christmas tree ornaments—especially Christmas tree ornaments.
Several times customers have looked at Christmas tree ornaments and expressed dissatisfaction because the name of the trail is not on the ornament. A couple of times I’ve joked, Just get a Sharpie and add the name on there! People have reacted with more or less (usually less) amusement.
The other day I made the suggestion to a complaining lady looking at an ornament, then added, If I had a black Sharpie in my pocket, I’d do it for you, but I only have an orange one.
Not only did the lady not smile, but The Man started elbowing me in the back. I guess I didn’t sound as funny as I thought I did.
Actually, for a joke, I don’t think it’s a bad suggestion. Why not just make an ornament (or any souvenir) say what it needs to say in order to jog the memory of a wonderful trip? Having a souvenir labeled in a factory doesn’t make a memory any more valid.
Later that same day, The Big Boss Man was hanging out with us in the store, and he mentioned people not always understanding his sense of humor. I said, Me too! In fact today, and I told him the story of the lady and the ornament. The Big Boss Man cracked a smile and chuckled, I swear he did!
When I got to the part about The Man elbowing me, I said, I told him I was joking!
The Man interjected, It wasn’t funny! No one was laughing!
I thought it was hilarious, I maintained.
I guess I was the only one.