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Smell the Coffee: Let's agree to disagree over what's comic or crude

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Apparently, the author of that famous children's book was wrong.

Everyone doesn't.

Or if they do, some aren't capable of seeing the humor. I pity their poor dogs, which I'm certain are receiving more than their fair share of blame.

For those who aren't falsely disgracing their dogs--especially those who were kind enough to email about being able to laugh over those unpleasantly scented parts of life that I wrote about last Sunday, you're my buds. My people. I've got your back. Well, I would if I wasn't nervous about standing behind you.

The emails after last Sunday's column were so fun, even the haters. It was like reading a play-by-play of a ping pong match.

The first one loved it.

Second one hated it.

Third said I should have my own sitcom.

Fourth proposed removing my fingers so I could never type again.

The back and forth continued at a fairly even pace. In favor. Opposed. Hilarious. Disgusting. Never before have I written a column that provoked such a divisive response. Who'd have thought something as natural as a little air soiling could prompt proclamations of both hatred and love?

Still, it got me to thinking about what makes people laugh, and how wildly ranging the idea of what's funny can be.

When my daughter was small, she'd attach herself to a joke and tell it so many times the words "knock-knock" became the spoken equivalent of fingernails down a chalkboard. Over the years, she's honed her sense of humor to the point where she's one of the funniest people I know. Her sense of timing and ability to twist words around often send me over the edge, laughing so hard I'll have tears running down my leg.

 My boyfriend is also unfailingly funny, as are most of my relatives. It occurred to me, as I was painting my 20-year-old nephew's toenails the other day while he napped, that our prank-prone gatherings would be intolerable for most of those haters of last week's column. We are admittedly childish and occasionally crude. It's been that way as long as I can remember.

And I'm so grateful for that.

To be able to find the funny in the worst situations has been the biggest blessing to me. When I was a scrawny, flat-chested pre-teen with braces and glasses and unfortunate hair, being able to make the joke about myself before some cruel classmate could do it tended to disarm my tormenters. And as an adult who has landed in one difficult situation after another, being able to root out the parts that are laughable has saved my sanity.

Still, I get that there is no universal funny. Some love clowns, while for others, they're the stuff of nightmares. I can go into hysterics over an old Mystery Science Theater, but that same show once caused a friend to get carpet burns because she dove for the remote to change the channel when it came on.

The thing to remember is that no one hits a home run every time they're at bat. There are writers I love, even though I don't love everything they write. Adored singers with songs I skip past. Favorite actors with movies I dislike or performances I feel are weak.

But I've never wanted to cut off their fingers when they missed the mark.

And never unjustly laid blame on my dog.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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