The Me Nobody Knows

Feb 5, 2024

“Are you talking to me?  Are YOU talking to me?  ARE YOU talking to me?  You better be talking to me … well, I’m the only one here.  You better be talking to me.”
– Robert DeNiro, Taxi Driver

Do you remember when you were still in-vitro?  On come on .. you remember when your sister pulled the fire alarm on the street corner.  And, the loud alarm sounded.  Your mother and father grabbed both of you and ran like hell.   Oh boy, you sure do remember that bumpity bumpity run your mother did.

You don’t remember me, do you?  I was the toddler who opened the door under the kitchen sink, grabbed the huge container of flour, judiciously opened the screw top and dumped it all onto the floor.  I was so proud of myself … until a got a pach in tookis.

I was the 5 year old in the Bronx park who thought it would be fun to take the slide down … going head first.  And, it was fun until I broke my nose.  Do you remember riding with me in the Police Car to the hospital?

Do you remember the 6 year old who decided he didn’t need to hold his mother’s hand when he crossed the big street with cars whizzing by.  Oh boy,  that was a big metal bumper that sent him flying high in the air.

Do you remember when my sister yelled to our mother, “Is he dead?”  Nah, the doctor said.  He’s just got a bunch of scrapes on his knees and forehead.  He looks like a clown.

Do you remember when I got drunk at our family’s Passover dinner in 1957?  That Manischewitz Grape Wine went down so smoothly.  About as fast as he fell asleep on the floor in the dining room.

Do you remember when I was 15 and stole my parent’s car?  I called my friend, Michael Axelrod.  He was the neighborhood king of all things bad.  I drove around the block and the car stalled.  Do you remember that I told you my heart was beating about a thousand miles a minute.  That I was hoping .. praying  …. That Axelrod could get the car running again and return home before my parents realized what happened.  Alexrod … now, there was a name that was filled with irony.

Do you remember after all of those shenanigans, the thing you liked most about me was that I liked to make people laugh?  You just loved my  jokes, right?  Even if they were dumb.  Do you remember that I once heard a comedian say that if a joke made ME laugh it was a good joke.  Even if nobody else understood it.  It was like an inside pitch.  A surprise .. that was the essence of a good joke.

I’m not sure when I turned the corner on being funny.  Maybe it was when I discovered girls.  They liked to laugh.  And, it didn’t take me too long to realize that if you made them laugh they became interested in me. So, I’d say something funny and they would laugh. And, I would say something crazy and they would laugh. And, the next thing you know … well .. that’s when it got a little weird for me because I was scared of girls.  Thank God for that surge of testosterone.

And, then it clicked.  Do you remember when I seemed to find just about everything funny.  I was a conversational comedian.  If someone said something boring, I found a reason to make it funny.  Do you remember when a conversation turned bleak …when someone had to do one better when someone was talking about death or imminent death.  And, I would instantly change the subject with, “Did you hear what Howard Stern said yesterday? ” Everyone would stop in their tracks and I would laugh and laugh.   I always seemed to turn the conversation into a laugh.  Do you think I can remember any of the funny situations?  No.  Do you think I can remember any of the funny jokes?  No.  But, you do remember that I made you laugh, right?  Do you remember that they were the best of times?  Indeed.

Do you remember me now?  I’m the guy who loves to laugh.