Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Get an ugly girl to marry you!"

Ever since I was a small child able to understand English my Father would say to me, “Son, there are only two things you need in a woman: she gotta be hardworking and not lazy, and she’s gotta be able to laugh – and that’s the most important. A sense of humor is absolutely critical in your partner.” My mom would echo this advice to the letter, and having witnessed the last 21 years of their marriage I can say that I have taken their advice to heart. A sense of humor is a wonderful power: it can diffuse an argument and scatter hard feelings to the wind as easy as blowing on a dandelion, but it is a power that cannot be abused. You can always have too much of a good thing and a sense of humor used too often can do more harm than good.
For this reason I feel that the Incongruity model of humor is one that Madea unconsciously supports the most often. As she describes the joys of getting older, something society tells us is a bad thing, she encourages that we relish our experience and the benefits of being elderly, even turning around, “Payback is a mother!” from a curse to a joyous proclamation. Similar to my parents’ theory on choosing a wife one must be able to laugh in all situations, such as what Madea calls the “fried-everything diet.” If we are overly concerned with our weight it directly affects our outlook on life. Choosing to do something about weight and doing it are great life choices, but choosing to accept it and living happily with it are also great choices according to Madea, and despite the health benefits of the former it is important to remember to enjoy life.
Yet this advice goes completely contrary to what the reigning experts would tell us. Everyone seems to have the secret to losing weight and looking great, but rare are the products which tell you to accept yourself for who you are and be happy (present topic of discussion excluded). Madea however manages to attack and dispel all of these viewpoints with the power of humor. This opens our minds to the possibility that this “woman” knows what she’s talking about and we are now ready to accept her advice on the grounds that we might become a little happier.
I was at a party my Freshman year for one of the theater groups on campus and during the festivities a pair of seniors lost their balance somehow, toppling backward and breaking an expensive piece of electronics. Rather than fly into a rage (as would have been completely justified) the host of the party immediately cracked a joke, inciting laughter and the incident was soon forgotten. I never heard whether the host was reimbursed or not, but what I will never forget is that he was willing to sacrifice his desire to protect his assets for the sake of the good time his guests were having.
This I cannot help but match with Madea’s advice on parties: it is precisely the reason she mentions why she doesn’t have parties at her home anymore, as stuff is going to get broken. And based on how she deals with rudeness in the workplace I can safely assume that were this incident to have taken place in her home the offending pair would have been tossed out the nearest exit. However, despite our tendency to praise Madea I cannot say which is the right action to take; both are justifiable in the circumstances, but I personally am inclined to smooth the matter over for the time being with the understanding that the matter would be settled later. Regardless, a sense of humor in either choice is a necessity if being happy and staying happy is important to the host.

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