Laughing at Midnight

I have been known to tell rather long & elaborate anecdotes/jokes.  Once, a friend during one of my epic recitations excused himself and took refuge in the restroom.  To save you from a tale of unexpected length, please find the “punch line” (actually a cartoon) directly below.  If you are of the mind, the entertaining back-fill follows after.

“Note the Piquant Tartness at the First Taste, Subsiding Subtly to a Delicate, Gracious Nuance…”

Background detail: Saturday afternoon I hosted a wine tasting.

Forgive me.  I am old.  There are two principle reasons why my sleep could be disturbed in the depth of the night. The first is a terrifying nightmare that totally unnerves me. Like:  I have blown off two of my three courses the spring trimester of my Senior year.  There is no way that I am going to graduate in June!  What am I going to say to my parents?  I won’t be graduating with my class!!  I awake from my slumber (at midnight, or near).  In my anxiety I have acquired a coating of perspiration. Awakened, rubbing my eyes clear, I remember that I rec’d my B.A. from Union in June 1971 – witnessed by my parents! {Side note: since high school, I have been beset by academic nightmares of this type my entire adult life.}

But then there is a second reason to disrupt a night’s rest.  My bladder has reached the limit of its endurance, and must be relieved.  And it is here that the central point of this exposition spins.

While in the loo, and this happened around midnight, an image of an old cartoon returned to my mind. Do not ask why.  Maybe it’s related to the wine tasting on Saturday?  But there it was. The cartoon had taken up residence in my brain.  A cartoon that I had seen nearly 50 years ago.  I started to laugh.  Like, really laughing.  It’s past midnight and I’m in the bathroom laughing (laughing mostly in my head because I didn’t want to alarm sleeping Sandy).

I returned to bed, re-positioned my pillows to no gain.  The cartoon was embedded in my head.  I had to stifle my laughter. I reduced it to a steady giggle that burbled like a hot mud spring.  I had to find that cartoon! This is the internet age!  I’ll find it! Who was the cartoonist?  Savage?  Brian Savage? Attempts to fall back to sleep were fruitless.

Sleep not arriving, I retreated to my desk and laptop downstairs and I got busy googling (in black & white films of yore I’d be in full pajamas, bathrobe & slippers.  I was in plaid boxer shorts, a Grumpy t-shirt & barefoot).

Brian Savage’s cartoons appeared in both The New Yorker and Playboy.  In a few minutes I found the cartoon.  Just seeing the drawing sent me into a paroxysm of laughter.  I wouldn’t find the caption ‘til later that day; but the drawing alone was priceless.  No caption was really needed!  And if it had turned necessary I knew I could write a caption in a blink.

A great cartoon is music… a combination of melody and lyrics (line drawing and caption).  Savage’s talent is that his drawings standing alone are worthy of study and can set a grin on your face.  Dave Berg at Mad Magazine had that talent.  As does Bill Watterson – creator of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip.

But a great caption can take a drawing to a different level of laughing pleasure.  A great caption confirms and extends the humor of the image.  And so it was when I returned to my desk at 5:30AM, still in full giggle mode, I was able to locate the original caption!

I loved it!  And yes, I could riff off the text.  But why?  Why look to improve on a Rogers & Hammerstein tune? Just laugh!  Laugh as I did at midnight.  Or maybe you won’t find this cartoon as funny as I do.  At least it’s better than getting poked in the eye with a hot stick.

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