This is going to sound super immodest, but… c’est la vie: usually, and most especially when I’m in an “on” mood, I can be a kick-ass story teller, and the more people react the better I get. I totally get high on positive reinforcement and laughter so the more people like it the better I get. Everybody has their off-days of course but when I’m on- you’ll remember it.
So- a few years ago we had this new humorless boss who had been hired at the college where I worked. Nobody understood why the committee selected her, she gave no evidence of having any sort of personality, and the only thing she seemed to have the remotest interest in was looming (as in literally one of these- only thing not directly work related she seemed capable of discussing- though that she would discuss endlessly long after most people would have taken the “I don’t give a damn” cues- there’s only so long you can be polite as somebody drones on endlessly about how hard it is to find raw wool in a small Georgia town [who the hell would have thought it?]). She mocked southern culture in general and southern literature in particular, and while most places that is absolutely fine if you feel that way and in fact how often does either have to come up?), when you work in the library of a southern liberal arts college that is home to the archives of one of the most famous southern writers who isn’t Faulkner it’s a bad thing, and even worse when part of your job is fund-raising and soliciting community involvement, especially from people who don’t loom.
Anyway, it wasn’t a love connection from the get-go, but being hospitable people (referring here to the staff at that library) we wanted to welcome her anyway, had a dinner in her honor, invited her and her husband (who didn’t come), found and bought her some goddamned raw wool (which almost made her smile for a second) as a welcoming gift, and while she sat doing an imitation of Kathy Geissfrom 30 Rock except with really annoying big bottle job '80s hair. I started talking to friends and co-workers at another table, everybody was laughing, and it spreads to the “host” table and I’m asked to “come in here, whatever you’re talking about we’ve got to hear it”, so, per request, I do an encore.
Specifically it was a story I told here once about a time I stole money from my mother’s purse and got a bad spanking for it- that’s the lead in of the abstract, the story itself is a lot longer and especially in person where there are a lot more digressions and I’m acting out the characters and making some quite good if I say so myself ad libs- and generally speaking I’m killing. People are literally holding up their hands begging me to stop so they can catch their breath- I am on fire- people have spewed wine and tea, and this isn’t one of those “you have to be southern” things because a dean present was formerly a dean at Rutgers and a professor present is from NYC and a former boss who’s present (because she’s involved in some activities with that library) is a Russian Jewish-Catholic (converted in childhood)- they are all in hysterics.
Except for Kathy Geiss-Nichtfaulkner who is making what she thinks humans would call a polite smile-like expression.
So I finish the story, which involves a big punchline and an epilogue, and literally get a round of applause. Including from Geiss-Nichtfaulkner, who says mirthlessly
“So the story is about people finding child abuse funny?”
Que? Huh? Smote who? No no no…
“Well it involves corporal punishment… with a belt.”
I say, politely as possible, “Not corporal punishment so much as an ass-whoopin’, and it was my ass that got whooped, and quite frankly I deserved it.”
“Oh… maybe after I’ve been here for a while it will be more… amusing.”
A bald chemo patient reciting Thanatopsis at The Laugh Factory would not have killed the mood faster. Literally met with “check please” and “Ooh, look at the time” comments all around and in five minutes the place emtied and she went home and loomed some potholders or whatever the fuck she loomed when she loomed.
She lasted three years but I think she was about the only person in that room who was still there when she left. She made it by all accounts an infectiously joyless place, pissed off some of the community patrons, and left because she was denied tenure. She’s spreading loom and gloom elsewhere now.
That’s probably the worst reaction I’ve had.
My favorite story about a bad reaction to an amusing anecdote though is from one of my favorite drag queens, Miss Coco Peru, who is brilliant but she can be such a re-tard.
*Not a euphemism- I don’t use mind altering substances other than caffeine and occasional viewings of FoxNew