Essential humor

Mrs. Happy and I met some friends Saturday evening to see a movie called Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. Bill Murray plays Bob, a famous actor whose career is on a downward spiral, though he can still generate a significant income ($2 million for a week’s work) endorsing a Japanese whiskey. While in Japan, he meets Charlotte (Johansson), an American who’s in Japan to be with her photographer husband while he takes pictures of a rock band. Though they are at different stages of life (she’s young and newly married, he has two kids and a raging midlife crisis), they find each other and develop a (completely non-sexual) friendship that comforts them both.

A couple of scenes really stuck out to me. In one, Charlotte asks Bob if marriage gets any easier. I paid special attention to his reply so I could write it down later, but this is probably not verbatim:

That’s hard. We had a lot of fun in the beginning. She would come with me whenever I was shooting a movie, and we would laugh about everything. Later, though, she didn’t want to leave the kids. We don’t spend that much time together any more.

You can read a lot into that, but one thing I see (which is borne out through phone conversations with his wife) is that Bob and his wife have fallen into the trap of taking themselves and each other too seriously. They have lost the ability to laugh with/at each other. That’s death to a marriage.

Last night, Mrs. Happy and I were watching TV (the season premiere of The Practice, if you’re interested) together. During a commercial, we had the following conversation:

her: Do we have any of that Dr Pepper left?
me: I
don’t think so. I’ll check… <walks to the kitchen and opens the refrigerator> No,
it’s all gone.
her: There’s no apple juice either, is there?
me: Nope.
her: So we don’t have anything to drink?
me: <walks back to the living room> There’s
some milk.
her: No there’s not.
me: Yes there is. I bought some today.
her: Oh.
me: It’s two percent, though. (note: Mrs. Happy prefers whole milk for drinking and two percent for cooking.)
her: Okay, I guess I’ll just have that.

I poured her a glass of milk, brought it to her in the living room, and turned the light off to enhance the atmosphere of our The Practice experience. A few seconds later her whole body went into a violent spasm, and she stopped just short of spewing a mouthful of two percent milk all over the living room. She glared at me and said, “I thought you were giving me water!”

Being the sensitive soul that I am, I laughed hysterically. And after she got over the initial shock, she laughed too. It turns out that she had said to me, “Okay, I guess I’ll just have water,” rather than, “Okay, I guess I’ll just have that.”

I’ve known married couples who would find no humor in something like that, who in fact would find nothing but offense and an excuse to fight for days. Mrs. Happy and I don’t take ourselves or each other that seriously. We both laugh when either of us does or says something stupid or weird, issues forth some sort of bodily-function-related noise, cooks pasta with marinade instead of marinara (I did that), or causes a glass dish to spontaneously combust (she did that). We’ve been married nearly five-and-a-half years and we haven’t lost our collective sense of humor. I hope we never do.


Before you e-mail me to tell me I made a punctuation mistake, look at Dr Pepper’s official Web site. There really is no period.

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