Days of Thunder
The last time I laughed?
If facetious laughter doesn’t count (had me oodles of that), then I guess I’d have to say January 16 when I was walking my dog and witnessed our neighborhood’s pubescent ginger menace, Evil Opie, launch his Huffy off a rickety wood ramp, go full horizontal and Wile E. himself into an ice-coated snow bank.
“10 out of 10 ya freckled bastard!”
What’s that? You think that may have been a bit facetious?
I guess you’re right, but if you knew this little monster, you’d be laughing your ass off.
Tiny moments of levity, typically at the expense of someone’s good health, are all I got to keep grinnin’ nowadays. But since I’m plump with humility and can chuckle at my own faux pas (French for face plants), I think I’m square with God.
Now that culture has outlawed comedy, genuine laughter has become the rarest commodity. Taking a cue from social media, most mainstream “entertainment” is out to evoke only one reaction: pissed-off dumb-ass.
Today’s superheroes are always cynical, dark and way too political.
Revenge drives all story lines.
It’s always gotta be This vs. That in a clash of zero-sum.
I rebuff those televised toxins.
I do get a kick from reading truly talented humor writers on Medium (you know who you are), but man oh man do they have to work for it. Curators put in extra hours suppressing anyone not posting dreck about California sports teams, the latest 5-bullet BS or the glorious magnificence of Python which I come to find is not the much-anticipated sequel to 1997’s Anaconda.
I long for those happy Thunderpuff years (circa 2015 to ’19 I reckon).
If you didn’t read Thunderpuff, you missed out on arguably the most talented writer to lend their work to this misguided platform. She’d hilariously and painfully relive relatable life events (e.g. work sucks, large groups suck, stupid people suck) in highly polished essays, cleverly marrying insight into those warped areas of the socially unaware human psyche with intelligent examination and the occasional insight into loud, offensive body functions.
I thought she was at her best when the target of her piece was Thunderpuff. Her first work I read had to do with a perfectly described cringe-alicious moment at a social gathering when she defied her own introversion and *gulp* attempted to make conversation.
If self-deprecation was art, this was a masterpiece.
Her stories took time which good stories do. (Did I say that out loud?) No more than once a week, I’d have my bag of Cool Ranch ready for a 5 to 9 minute joyride which always ended way too soon.
And did I mention her illustrations? I loved them, always bringing the right zing to the story at the right time.
Thunderpuff deserved the hearts, the claps, the reads. Comments were often overused accolades (can I just say “Brilliant!”) but the real mark of her quality was how she’d trigger her fan-base into joining in on the joke. We’d share our own embarrassing tales. We’d highlight and unpack well-written lines that really hit home.
And we’d try our best to make her laugh.
It was the community Medium hollowly spoke of.
That was when humor became a legit category. Sure, it was mostly packed with a bunch of political crap that stunk of Onion and extracted a titter or chortle from curators, but at least it showed promise for growth as more humorists with fresh, original ideas joined in.
It was fun.
Then Medium began to pay, then paid less, people got sour and walked. Humor suffered the most.
I don’t think that’s why Thunderpuff left.
Maybe it is.
I don’t know. I’m bad at guessing but that doesn’t stop me.
You write about what you know, right? What happens in daily life. That stuff is usually unfunny when analyzed by 95% of the population.
Then there are those who replay events with Magic 3D Eyes and see the hysterical hidden image sharpen into view. We fall off our chairs, out of breath as relatives and doctors wonder how to deal with us.
But what happens when the ha-ha doesn’t come into focus?
My brother, my sister and I unexpectedly lost our mother on February 6th. Due to a colossal screw-up by local authorities, her body was transported to the wrong funeral home.
She died shortly before.
Two months later, I’ve regained my joke reflex about that unbelievably devastating phone call and the magnificent clusterfuck that followed. The only one who would’ve gotten a kick out of this tragic comedy was Mom, but she wasn’t up for it.
Which led me to think about one of Thunderpuff’s last posts which dealt with facing similar sadness. Harsh material. She was brave to write about it, and still she made us laugh. Given her circumstances, a break from writing was understandable.
That was over a year ago.
I get it.
A search on Medium won’t find her. She erased her account. Google will locate some of her work likely reproduced without permission kinda like the drawings I’ve included in this post and HEY did I say that out loud?
Well…you know what they say: Piracy is OK if it improves your work.
If by some off-chance she reads this, I hope she forgives me.
I hope she’s still writing.
I hope she’s happy.