Shake It Off

Shake it off - Golden Retriever shaking off water

By Judy Berman

Sometimes, any sliver of humor is fair game.

In a hardscrabble world, here’s a few who had a laugh in spite of being given a difficult time.

* A defense attorney I knew was assigned to a real tough character. His client had been convicted of murder, and his next stop was a federal drug trial.

I asked the attorney if I could talk to him about his client.

“Oh, I have to be careful what I say. He’s already sent me two letters in one envelope. One implied my mother and father weren’t married,” he laughed, dismissing the crude implications.

His client surprised everyone by pleading guilty at the start of the trial.

* Waiting on tables often has its own headaches. One such incident involved my Mom when she worked in a coffee shop at a Las Vegas casino.

A particularly ornery customer complained loudly about the service. She demanded that someone carry her tray to her table when she was capable of doing the same herself.

My Mom, who was in her 70s, could be a real pistol at times. She sweetly announced that she’d take the tray to the customer’s table. Then Mom proceeded to limp, lurching awkwardly toward the table. (I wish I could have been there. I’d have been rolling.)

* Speaking of restaurants, this is often where my family members and I torment each other – all in good fun, of course.

As I leave one restaurant, I dip into the candy bowl to take a few mints.

My son-in-law, Keith, pretending he doesn’t know me, says loudly: “Lady. Save some candies for other people.”

I slink out the door, laughing. But, payback is a bear, even if it does take me years to get even.

Recently, when celebrating our eldest daughter Danielle’s birthday at a restaurant, my jam came on. I started dancing out the door. I’m betting that same son-in-law was praying that no one he knew was there.

At another eatery, my youngest daughter, Jenn, noticed a black cloud in the huge fish tank. I told her: “I’ve got two words: fish flatulence.”

She lost it. Those words still make her laugh today.

* Sure, you’re overworked. But a little laughter lightens the load.

Happy Otter

When I was working as a reporter, my editor sent me an e-mail wondering when he was going to see my story so he could edit it.

“I don’t see you typing.”

Me: “That’s because I’m weak from hunger. It’s been 15 minutes since my last six-course meal.”

Editor: “You can eat on the way home.”

Well, it’s that kind of compassion and warped humor that keeps me from losing my sanity.

It’s times like these that I can appreciate the Dover Police Department’s video cam that shows an officer lip synching Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” (It was staged. But, so what?It’s great fun.)

Taking a skewered look at life is sometimes the best way to get thru to the other side of the rainbow.

Do you have a humorous story to share?

Video: Dover Police Officer lip-synching Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” – 

Video: K C and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake Your Booty” 

Main Photo: shake it off –  Golden Retriever shaking off water – Photo taken by Googie man on June 2, 2008

Photo: Happy otter – California sea otter bathing at Moss Landing, Calif. Photo taken by Sstasi on Sept. 23, 2007.

  1. I like stories of you being cagey, or is it a little cheeky? And I love how families share humor. One little anecdote of my own. Once a pious person said “He stuck his nuck out.” Funny only because he prided himself in being so prim and proper. We have gotten a lot of mileage out of that 5-word goof and use it when appropriate for over 30 years now. You’d have to have been there – not hilarious to anyone but us.

    1. Marian … I often refer to my skewered outlook on life as “wonderfully warped.” (That applies to many of those I know as well.) I can see why your family would get a charge out of this story. It’s the joke that keeps on giving. 😉

  2. i absolutely love these stories and this approach to life and work. i was a waitress/bartender/caterer too, for many years, while having other jobs, and tried my best but some customers really pushed the limit. we had lots of fun as the service staff )

    1. Thanks, Beth. Oh, the stories I’ll bet you could tell. My Mom’s were often hilarious. I think back to my days of working part-time at W.T. Grants at the hot dog counter. Fun times – especially after the edgy customers left. 😆

  3. “Fish flatulence.” I love it! I love having in-jokes with family or friends where you say a word or phrase and instantly the whole scene and its humor come back.

    1. Merril … Jenn was staying over with us at the hotel. When she woke up, I repeated that phrase and she burst out laughing all over again. You’re right. There are certain trigger phrases – one of my favorites is from the comedy, “Wise Guys” – that just make me laugh out loud. 😆

      1. Our daughters’ stuffed animal friends talked (of course). The other night while watching TV with my husband, I said some phrase that the stuffed animal used to say and my husband burst out laughing.

  4. I love that video of the cop lip-synching to Taylor Swift – I’m still laughing! 😀 I might share him to my Tumblr blog later, I like the funny videos. I wonder what came of his career after putting that on You Tube? I don’t think a policeman would survive not being dismissed for that in the UK. Mind you, nothing wrong with it, but I can imagine the police force seeing that as an embarrassment. We are still very stuffy in the Britain about certain things you know! 😉

    I like what you’re Mum did with that bossy customer – best way to deal with people like that, and maybe that woman never did that again – I hope!

    I met a similar attitude when I was in my early 20’s. It was in a very long post office queue on a hot day, and a woman jumped the entire queue and stood next to the man at the front of the queue. When it was his turn she leaped in front of him heading towards the counter to be served, when he objected she screamed (and I mean, literally screamed) and claimed from behind her very dark glasses she was blind, and that was no way to treat a blind woman. She then hurled a ton of abuse at the man (something about rotting in hell) as she stormed out of the post office managing to go round several temporary barriers (backwards) and then found the door with no problem at all. And all the while using her white stick pointing directly at him hissing abuse. Even at that age I didn’t know a great deal about blind people, but I had gone on holiday with someone who was blind when I was a teenager, and I just didn’t feel that was the behaviour of a blind person. Many years later my Mum went blind and I met lots of other blind people, and that woman was definitely not blind! She obviously didn’t like waiting her turn. 😉 Not much of a funny moment though, but certainly a character to remember.

    Funny moment: Standing in another queue (what is it about queues?) with my Dad in a cake shop trying to by some doughnuts. Dad misunderstands, thinks I’m wasting time in the wrong queue. A stifled argument develops between us, I’m served, doughnuts paid for, Dad realises the other queue was for ordering food to eat in and slowly walks out of the shop feeling stupid, and I’m in a bad mood for being spoken to like a naive child at age 35. Outside the shop, just to lighten the mood I told him “When we get home” (his home) you’ll have to go straight to your room and think about your attitude. Dad agreed looking down at the ground and laughing. It was a good way to ease a stupid moment and we laughed about that for a few years! 😀

    And I loved your fish flatulence Judy – I didn’t know fish did that – haha!! 😉

    Sorry this is so long, I was going to keep it short, but when do I ever keep it short?!!!

    1. Suzy … The Dover Police officer had the department’s blessing to make the video. I read a couple of stories about it and his video is posted on their web site. As I recall, the officer was driving near a school’s athletic field and you’ll notice there are no other cars on the road. So his nodding to someone is just for effect. I’ve played this many times and laugh every time. 😉

      Your Dad took his consequences in good humor. Good for him. My Mom could be quite a stitch at times. I loved her stories.

      I don’t know if there is such a thing as fish flatulence. It was just something I blurted spontaneously. 😆

  5. I well remember the hot dog counter at W.T. Grant’s. Downtown, right? I can even smell it now, probably well more than 40 years later.

    Speaking of restaurants, many years ago my family was at a restaurant on Erie Boulevard East. Can’t think of the name, though it had “diner” in it, though it really was more of a restaurant.

    Anyway, I was about to have some soup and had the little cellophane container of crackers in my hand when my brother Martin said it would be a good idea if I crunched the crackers before opening the little bag. So I did so. Then I opened the bag. And all the crumbs flew out all over the table. As it wasn’t the night of Jan. 31, I couldn’t pass it off as confetti and was duly embarrassed. Occasionally I mention this to Martin.

    And speaking of him, one Christmas Eve my parents began to get the presents out — we were all past the age where one learns that they don’t really come from Santa. I really liked board games, and I can still see my mother coming toward me, beaming, and carrying the game of Risk.

    “I knew you wanted it!” she said.

    Wrong. Risk was one of the few games I wasn’t interested in — too complicated, and I wasn’t interested in war stuff.

    Years later, Martin confessed that he had told Mom that I wanted Risk, because HE wanted it.

    And once every few years I mention this to Martin, too.

    (Come to think of it, he’s lucky to be alive, isn’t he?)

    1. Martin’s very clever, and, yes, he is lucky to still be alive. Funny story, though. Mark, tell Martin he owes you. 😉

      W. T. Grant’s … many good memories. I worked there two or three times on a part-time basis.

      I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but was unable to. You always have an excellent set up for your mysteries. I know I’ve read it before but I forgot how it ended – great job!

  6. Hi! First I wish to be selfish!

    I first wanted to mention via your posts I have discovered mutual friends Like Rick, Carol and Jim dating back to WOLF and when I ran a show at Clarkson in that time (your memory is better than mine!). You get a chance to catch up anymore? Also when were you at WT Grants? I worked Camillus and downtown late 60’s?

    Now back to the rest of the story! “Shake it off! “! ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ came from the life of Norman Cousins editor of the Saturday Review (or Evening post?). Later became a regular column in Reader’s Digest. My mention of this is humor, laughter are extremely important as they are positive and focusing on the positive brings positive health and healing — yes? Negative emotions seem to bring sadness, hurts, and in general a decline in growth and poor health I believe

    I too, am proof along with Norman Cousins that laughter … positive emotions can be really empowering and healing! I have had more diseases than I care to recall including heavy metals,h cardiac issues and more. I am still here. Why mention this? We need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and that goes for everyone on this planet! The exception would be the one who is always right! Him I would follow (maybe).

    Could it be that if we all learn how to ‘Shake it off’ we could start to become healthier! If our leaders could learn to ‘Shake it off’ we could lessen conflict! If we can learn to ‘Shake it off’ could we learn how to help each other more? After all we’re all broken in some measure — yes?

    Now go out and smile and laugh for no reason at all!

    Thank you Judy for this and the bye bye! I am smiling out loud! God Bless!

    1. Rick … I worked part-time at W.T. Grant’s two or three times in mid- to late-60s. What show did you do at Clarkson? I am in touch with a few of the folks from my radio and newspaper days. I’ve only seen two of the radio DJs that I worked with within the past couple of years. We’ve moved and so have some of them.

      “Laughter is the Best Medicine” was one of my favorite parts of the Readers Digest. I think if everyone would just “Shake It Off” and be a little less serious all the time that we would all be happier and healthier. 😉

      I’m glad this brought a smile to your face. Take care.

  7. This is such fun, Judy, especially the examples that prove you and your mother BOTH have wonderful coping and getting even skills. I love it.
    My favorite tale comes from a friend and a young colleague who were getting estimates at hotels for a block of rooms for an upcoming conference. While they were waiting for the estimate at one hotel, my friend saw her niece’s husband having a very intimate time with a woman in the bar. When the woman got up to go to the ladies’ room, the two women followed her. The colleague broke into (fake) tears about her husband having yet another affair, even before his treatment of antibiotics was finished.
    Their act stopped that encounter but probably there were others, but they decided that at least they’d done their part to stop that one.

    1. Marilyn … I tend to think that Mom often had faster reflexes. My best responses might not come until the middle of the night … or years later. Mom’s reaction to that ornery customer makes me laugh every time I think about it. 😆

      Your friend’s actions are funny. If they made that woman reconsider actions, bravo!

  8. The Dover Police video makes me smile each time I watch it, Judy. Question for you, did you take the photo of the dog? Finding humor in little things each day, makes like much stressful. Thanks for these great stories.

    1. I’m glad you enjoy that Dover Police video, Jill. It makes me chuckle, too. Thank you for your comments. 😉

      The photo credit for the dog is listed in the links under the videos. He goes by the name of Googie man. I got it off Wikimedia which has many wonderful free photos for public use.

  9. I agree Judy – laughter is awesome. Forgive me if I’ve told this story to you before but it’s one of my fave memories.

    When I moved out west to a little village of about 300 people, I learned to play guitar so that I could lead the songs at the small church I attended there. One morning one of my guitar strings broke as I was playing and without thinking I said, “oh crap, my g string broke.” People almost fell off their chairs laughing. At first I was mortified, but it didn’t take me long to laugh as well. ❤
    Diana xo

  10. I believe , if you look for it ,you can see the funny side of anything , well almost anything .
    It was my hubby’s birthday recently and we stayed in a hotel a few miles away . We met an old man , while we were having lunch, with a gorgeous King Charles Spaniel ( WE HAVE ONE OF OUR OWN ). We had a little chat then later another couple came in and got chatting to the old man . Then the old man got up handing the dog’s lead to the couple and asked if they’d look after him while he went to the loo. The strange looks on the couple’s face, and the thought that they had just been given a lovable dog for keeps, really made us laugh.
    The old man did come back for his dog, so no animals were left stranded in this story ( believe me I’d have took him home if the man had done a runner lol )

    1. Funny story, Cherry. That man must have been pretty trusting of them – and his dog – to hand over the dog’s leash. I can understand the couple’s confusion. (King Charles Spaniels are gorgeous.) 😆

  11. Mom, you forgot about the part where we were making our clams say “Feed me Seymour” and Dave was trying not to bust out laughing. And who can forget the airport incident where that nice older couple told us to check out the Louge and see the Pyramid in Paris, and the comments Danielle and I made when we got there!
    Great story and I love Grammies stories too!

    1. Jenn … I forgot about the clam incident. That was a fun night. Glad you loved your Grammie’s story. It always makes me laugh. 😆

      The well-meaning, but confused couple at the airport did get our trip off to a great start and I thoroughly enjoyed the “Louge.” (aka The Louvre) I guess I should explain the ‘pyramid’ the couple referred to. It was I.M. Pei’s controversial design – the 71-foot high glass pyramid in the courtyard that is the entrance to The Louvre art museum.

  12. We were brought up to “find the funny” – Dad had a wicked sense of humour and encouraged laughter at every opportunity. Sometimes it seems that we find humour in the not-very-appropriate. I maintain that it depends how you look at things.

    1. Your Dad had the right idea, Jenny. My father also found the funny in many situations and told many humorous stories. Your Dad’s outlook does reinforce my belief that it is your perception that makes up your reality. It’s so much better to look at the lighter side of life … and enjoy. Even if your/our reaction is not-so-very appropriate. That just makes a situation even funnier. 😆

  13. There’s nothing like shaking up a somber room with a bit of antics, Judy. Cheers for the newsroom crack-wise to your editor and restaurant funnies to your son-in-law and daughter. Beware the gassy fish!

    1. Mark … Knowing you all at the Syracuse Post Standard, I know you had more than your fair share of exchanges in quips and wisecracks. It does make the day a lot more fun when that happens. Our family does have fun when we get together. 😆

  14. Judy I had a giggle, which we all need to do on a daily basis. I watched Mamma Mia the other night and laughed myself senseless at Julia Walters character. I realised I have lost my sense of humour a bit being a mum. Back in the day before kids we would play tricks on friends and do silly stuff. I adore that policeman clip it had me smiling. Thanks for putting some fun in my day.

    1. Kath … At times, I’ve misplaced my sense of humor as well. That policeman’s rendition of “Shake it Up” helps restore it. Glad it gave you a giggle. There are many movies I return to just for the laughs. 😉

  15. Wonderful, happy post, Judy! I would have died laughing at the “Lady, leave some for the rest of us!” remark. And the “fish flatulence.” My sister, the family comedian, is arriving in a few days. I’ll be prepared for sore stomach muscles from cackling out loud.

  16. Judy, you really rolled me off of my chair (in the library) with these true stories! I am grinning and the others in the library see only words and no funny pictures… I loved your mother’s and son-in-law’s sense of humor. I am one who will try to ‘pay back’ those who have done the candy sort of joke, too. Generally my two brothers are always able to pull my leg or cause me to laugh in spite of myself!

    1. Truth is stranger than fiction … and often much funnier. I’m glad you liked these, Robin. My brother, who is 10 years younger than me, always got me. It was extremely rare when I was on to him before the punch line. He does make me laugh. 😆

    1. And, thank you, for the helpful view into yours about the unwelcome changes in WordPress. I’m much obliged. It’s been a real headache navigating WordPress’ new format and I didn’t understand why they thought the new one looked better until AFTER I read your post.

      1. Thanks for the follow. It might be a long haul and I don’t usually use this blog for more than R&R. But, nil desperandum (I think it’s a kind of flower).

  17. Ha! Reminds me of the time I went to a fortune teller. I knew was in for a bad experience when I saw her using a fish tank instead of a crystal ball.

    “The tank grows cloudy,” she said.

    “Fish flatulence,” I said– and demanded a refund… : P

    Great stuff, Judy– clearly, you got a million of ’em!! : )

  18. Judy — a restaurant story I heard last night from a friend. He’s 85, and part of a group of cancer survivors who meet every Friday for breakfast. My friend always orders one pancake with his bacon and eggs. Last Friday, the waitress brought him three pancakes by mistake. When he tried to tell her the order was incorrect, she told him it was his lucky day and not to worry about it. Several days later, he received an “invoice” in the mail, on restaurant stationery, billing him for two pancakes — something like $2.89. He was flummoxed, until he found out one of his buddies had gone to some effort to play a prank on him. My friend planned on some revenge today, so I’m hoping for an update. Jim

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