Disco Inferno

Oh, the sting and burn of a sarcastic observation! I don’t care much for the ones that leave scorch marks; but the ones that sizzle like a Texas barbecue sauce are another matter entirely. Gotta love those. And while it’s fun to watch someone poke a political bear, or William Shatner, sometimes we have to suck it up and take the roasting ourselves.

I love making people laugh. It makes me feel good. And then, there are those times where it’s someone else’s quip that gets the laugh. Very often at my expense. It used to mortify me. Now it makes me laugh as much as everyone else. A good zinger is a good zinger. I admire anyone who can pull it off. But i  really admire someone who can pull it off while being nervous and scared in the middle of a medical procedure. That takes a real gift. Or comedic intervention. Channeling the comedians of times past. But you’d be surprised how often it happens.

In the middle of a case, an invasive procedure, we are getting to the “easy” part. The patient has been silent for a while now and appears to have fallen asleep. A favorite song comes on the radio. I start to sing along. From under the sterile drape comes a deadpan and drugged voice, “You’re ruining it!” Commence full-on belly laughter. From then on, whenever any of us in the lab start to sing along with the radio – usually me – someone shouts out, “You’re ruining it!”

As we are preparing a patient for a procedure, he says, “Oh, and if my eyes start to water, i’m not crying. I’m….. I have allergies.” I respond with a sly grin, “Oh, i thought you were going to say that i was so beautiful it brings tears to your eyes.” He turns to me with a leprechaun smile and says, “You wouldn’t want me to lie, would you?” One coworker covers her mouth. The other says, “Ouch!” and laughs.  I responded at that moment with a snarly face and a laugh. But “You wouldn’t want me to lie, would you?” is becoming a standard response to any statement that remotely resembles fishing for a compliment. 

A non-English speaking Latino patient is coming out of anesthesia and begins to thrash. Worried that he will cause himself to fall off the procedure table, the nurse anesthetist calmly reminds him in Spanish that he is still in surgery and needs to not move, which does absolutely nothing. Knowing that when we are sedated, sometimes it takes a momma voice to bring us to our senses, but having to rely on languages i speak, i stick my head under the sterile drape and yell, “Basta!!!” The physician, who is Latino himself, calmly says, “Holly, that’s Italian.” I peek my head out from under, “It isn’t the same in Spanish?”  “I have no idea what you are trying to say, so i’d say no.”  Everyone cracks up. Now, whenever any of us is being impish or silly, another will yell, “Basta!!”

Most of the time, i don’t mind looking silly. Life itself can be pretty silly. So if i slip on a banana peel and slide into a pile of honey and chicken feathers, i’m going to laugh. Ok, that’s never going to happen. But if i am dancing around the office and a loud toot escapes during a Grand Jeté, i will laugh. Yes, that has happened. And it was funny. Or rather, it was funnier than it was embarrassing. Everyone laughed. Including me. I couldn’t help myself. Besides, as someone once told me, “You had better learn to laugh at yourself, because everyone else has already learned how to laugh at you!”

So go ahead. Take your best shot. Zing me. Parody me. Bring it. Tease me. Mock me. Make me laugh. Heckle me. Roast me. Do it. I can feel the sting of humor already. “Burn, baby, burn!”

Yeah, i know. I’m ruining it.



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