Ha Ha (BONK!)

Recently one of my kids received as a gift a copy of "The Ha Ha Bonk Book."

"The Ha Ha Bonk Book," a collection of jokes such as elementary school kids love to tell, takes its title from the one that asks, "What goes Ha Ha Bonk?" "A man laughing his head off."

It comes to mind because it reflects so nicely the intimate braiding on this earth of the humorous and the hideous, the funny and the quease- inducing.

How like life the Ha Ha Bonk joke really is; in this house especially, how very fitting.

We laughed ourselves silly two weeks ago when the cat got involved in the paint project and emerged sporting hot-pink whiskers and fluorescent eyebrows. A half-hour later, we stopped laughing when a major pipe backed up in the cellar and sent the whole history of our laundering and nutritional activities scudding across the floor. We'd had a hard time here lately: known loss and known sorrow; seen the year hit bottom, and watched the sun start to set, as it seems, moments after noon. We were in a weakened state.

I have a spouse of 20 years named David. One morning last week, he woke at five. Unable to find again the furry path back to Dreamland, he reached under the bed to fetch forth the reading lamp, one of those tiny inventions that casts a bright cone of light into an otherwise darkened room. He attempted to set it on the bedside table, but misjudged the distance. It slipped. He caught it mid-air, and somehow in the process sliced clear through the flesh on his wrist, laying bare the minute circuitry of that joint's inner workings.

He leaped from the bed. At this point I woke too, and followed the red wet blossoms of blood as they led to the bathroom.

There I found David, attempting with a bath towel to tourniquet the wound.

Emergency Room, we were both thinking. "Get my pants," he directed as I wove into view.

I got them.

"Put them on me." I bent to do so.

He stepped in, like a man into an elevator; I pulled the elevator to the top; and fainted dead away in a great clattering of bones on the icy tile floor.

"Be right with you," I assured him, partially coming to moments later. He paced, oozing. "Sit down a minute 'til we see if it's the artery." Then still reeling, I crawled back to bed, with the idea of recovering the more quickly there.

"How are you?" I called feebly into the john.

And then fainted again, falling out of bed this time, striking whole new chords as my sorry skeleton hit the wood.

David came in then. He started laughing. It was the Ha Ha Bonk Book all over again.

It wasn't an artery, we'd decided by then. We lay in bed together, chalk-faced, and watched the sky lighten.

In an hour, we rose to take on the day.

He promised to drive to the hospital and see about some stitches. Instead he drove to work, consulted the guys in Production and stuck on a Band Aid in the Men's Room.

At day's end, he limped back in the door and indicated his wrist. "It hasn't closed yet. It's like a little guy's mouth. Look, I can do ventriloquism." And he peeled back the Band-Aid.

But it had closed‹barely‹so the show was over.

He didn't bleed again. I didn't faint.

We'd laughed all right, but we'd done it with a certain rueful quality.

On this side of Eden, is there any other way?

©Copyright 2002-2011 Terry Marotta, All Rights Reserved.