I know I’ve said this before, but Jacob makes the ideal audience. If I ever lost the last shred of my sanity and stood up at an open mic in a comedy club, I’d make sure Jacob was in the room. It’s one of the good gifts brain injury has given him. (There are good gifts in everything. I’m convinced of it.) He doesn’t carry a lot of baggage–like anxiety about the future, or over-due bills, or a never-ending to-do list, or the typical insecurities common to those of us who live in a constant state of wondering what other people think. For Jacob, delight lurks beneath the surface every moment, ready to bubble up into laughter at the slightest provocation. This trait brings out the inane in me like nothing else can.
I promise I’m capable of intelligent dinner conversation–and we have them all the time. But I don’t transcribe those here, because I’m not selling my journal as a sleep aid. You kinda have to be there to benefit from deep delvings into theology, philosophy, science, and the like. For me, however, all it takes is one glance at Jacob, and seriousness tends to get shoved aside.
Case in point. Last night’s dinner discussion:
George: I read an article today about ways the Bible is used as literature in public schools.
George: One way is to take a common idiom that shows up in a story–like “He washed his hands of the situation”–and ask students where the idea originated. They trace it back to Pilate.
Jacob: Pontius Pilate
George: That’s right, Jacob. Pontius Pilate.
Me: Good old Ponch-ous. (I catch Jacob’s eye. He looks away, but the corner of his mouth twitches slightly.)
George: Isn’t it Pon-ti-us?
Me: Well, yeah. That’s how you spell it. But it sounds more like Ponch-ous. (I look at Jacob again.) PONCH-ous.
Jacob refuses to look at me but makes the characteristic high-pitched, humming sound that signals an impending laugh.
Me: Hey, PONCH-ous, nice PAUNCH ya got there. Maybe you should try some Pilates.
As usual, I laugh at my own pun.
Jacob almost spews his water across the table.
George has given up the topic and resumed eating.
Me (whispering now): Paunch-ous Pi-lah-tees.
Jacob tries to pretend he doesn’t hear, but–as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before–he has supersonic hearing. Another brain injury anomaly. He suppresses a laugh and takes a bite of food.
Me (whispering even softer): Paunch-ous Pi-lah-tees.
Jacob’s cheeks bulge like a chipmunk around his grin and a laugh erupts.
We continued eating with the occasional whispered Paunchous Pilates interjected at random moments, always evoking the desired reaction. Meanwhile, George never did finish his story about the article. Why can’t that man stay on topic?