I have people problem.
I would like to think that I am an open minded, tolerant and easy going person.
I am so hearing a few people choking on their sleep when I typed that. Yes you. Go back to bed.
But the undeniable fact remains that I am only such during the first few encounters with a new being. I am plain judgmental for this specific matter if I am to keep up staying in touch with this so called new friend for a prolonged time, as I believe they too have their own kinks in maintaining their respective long term friendships.
Frankly speaking, it is due to my own inadequacy in how to deal with these specific cases. What to say, what to do, be honest or act up. I just do not have a clue what is the proper thing to do. Perhaps I should ask Mr. Dale Carnegie for some advises. Oh and how I need such advises.
So plunging into the heart of the matter, I have found that there are people who love to tell stories. Not just your typical beginning-middle-conclusion stories, but funny ones at that. Don’t get me wrong. I love funny stories as much as the next girl does, but there surely exists a variety of ways to tell funny stories. And I happen to like these two the least.
The first one is when the story is funny only to the story teller. I’m not going to start a debate on the definition of funny but surely you’ve been in circumstances when the ‘joke’ is just definitely not a joke, no matter what angle you try to see it from. Perhaps it’s the fact that there isn’t the usual setup and punch line rhythm to it. Or perhaps it’s the fact that the story is an incomplete reenactment of a situation in the past that you just have to be there to really get it.
So let’s say no one laughs after the story being told, the conversation is still open for grabs and someone could probably throw in a line and help the poor dude to actually get a few laughs right? Well… my friend… Nine times out of ten, people who tell unfunny jokes actually love to laugh at their own jokes even when nobody else does. They do this in the most uncomfortable way while staring into your eyes, begging slash hypnotizing you to join the fun. And boy, how after a while you start to develop your signature ‘fake laugh’. Mine is a pathetic ‘heh heh heh’ that sounds like an engine being revved up in the middle of -40 degree Celsius weather. Might as well I be choking and you won’t know the difference.
This is not to be confused with those jokers who know they’re making crispy dry jokes though. Those ones you know that they are setting themselves up for the bullying to ensue. They’re taking one for the team in the name of a good laugh. These people are actually going through the trouble to spit out the corniest, driest jokes possible just to get a reaction. You can easily spot them when they tell such jokes since they’d probably either have a big grin plastered on their face or a very serious indignant mannerism straight after telling it. That’s just the break it or make it moment to see if anyone takes the bait. If the name calling starts then mission is accomplished. If no one is tuned in enough to appreciate the joke then no harm is done, no reputation tainted. And definitely none of those awkward self-laugh. It’s an art on its own, really.
That’s the first.
The second one is the ones that have hidden messages inside and offer commentaries along with the jokes themselves. So it will go something like this.. “Story, I’m so great, I’m awesome, yea, yea, yea, ,story. I was laughing soooooooo hard… “ (You’re not laughing since you can’t really figure out whether they’re boasting or actually telling a funny story) And then… “More story, and theenn he DO-ed on some glue, what an a-hole, story, mean words, story, story.. hahahaha. I was laughing my ass off I almost cried” (Now they’re just insulting someone in the story, which you don’t really find that amusing considering the fact that If the victims hear that, they’ll probably go jump off a cliff.) They are the stories that you can’t quite decide whether you should really congratulate, cuss, scold or laugh at. Well at least they’re having fun, no? Umm. No. It may be okay to do some ‘fake laughs’ throughout a conversation but to do it repeatedly over a 3 hours dinner. Exhausting and just plain mean for the jaws! And to say ‘That’s not funny!’ repeatedly won’t make you any friends in the long term, no? Who knows if the funny-cell is just not in their bones?
As I ponder more on this matter, the little voice inside my head keep saying ‘Hey.. be happy that they are having a jolly good time telling those stories! That’s good enough reason to laugh along no?’ And my big fat angry voice said “Hell No! That’s encouragement that they surely don’t need!’ Which is true by the way. They love the sound of laughter. Once they hear a tiny ‘he he he’ slipped out of your mouth. You are beyond salvation. It’s like spinach for popeye, lasagna for Garfield and terrorists-lookalike for Bush. Laughter for these people were just the sort of crack they need to get going. Yeap. Doomed to the multitude stories barraging after, you better start cracking up a bottle or two to ease the ride. So long faker!
The rest of you? Learn the beauty of silence and get comfortable in them. If you don’t find things funny, you don’t need to lie to anyone, especially yourself, by emanating a fake laugh. Let it sink. Savor the silence that ensues afterward. By any luck, another person in the group who is uncomfortable with silence would start cracking their own stories. And there goes your first Taichi lesson of moving problems into someone else’s hands.