Don Mesick: Make world happier by sharing a laugh

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WILLIAMSTOWN — In an Eagle article last month on the block party preceding the Greylock Ramble in Adams, 6-year-old Abram Payton of Harrisburg, Pa, had it right when he said so eloquently, "I like happiness". Hey, Abram! Me too!

I have lived in the Berkshires for many years. I enjoy the beauty of the countryside and my engulfing community that generated good feelings.

But reading the newspaper these days is usually a depressing experience. Upbeat news is rarely seen. World news is downright scary.

So I think it's imperative to generate some happiness, for others and myself. The simplest way, I think, is to compliment the folks around you And some humor definitely helps.

I'm very friendly. I speak to everyone — friend or stranger. I hope my comments here produce smiles and even a few laughs.

When someone asks me "How ya doing?" I say "Well, I woke up breathing and that's a good start!" That usually brings a smile. In fact, one quick-witted gentleman said, "I knew you looked different this morning." Smiles all around.

Once, at the barber shop, the conversation got around to life and death. The barber asked me how I felt about cremation. I said, "I don't know. I haven't tried it yet." Loud laughs.

After ordering at a restaurant, a gal came by to ask if we wanted vinegar with the fries. I said, "Yes. I might not use it, but it's always nice to see an attractive woman a second time." She grinned widely. On the way out she said, "You made my day". Such a simple way to make both of us happy.

Another restaurant story: When the waitress delivered the meal, I looked at it and said "I'll never eat all this. Tell you what, I'll give you the leftovers for a tip". She said "Yeh, sure". When she arrived with the bill and looked at the meager leftovers on my plate and said "I knew you were going to be a lousy tipper". I chuckled all the way home. And I'm sure she was smiling after she saw the tip I left.

I'm sure you have had to phone to get help fixing something in your home. Frustrating isn't it? Ready to blast the person who finally answers. They must listen to complaints all day long and are desperate for a smile. My best tries are "You have a nice voice, I bet you're good-looking too" or "Tell your boss I think you should get a raise." One laughing response to that was "Tell me another fairy tale". My performance is pathetic but I keep trying.

My wife loved grocery shopping. She was excellent with coupons, shopping lists and sales items. I was successful avoiding it until my wife died.

My technique is simple. Rush around the store, get the goods and fly through the checkout. Then I was amazed to find out that this is one of best venues to ply my "get a smile' crusade.

I still rush through, but have a lot more fun. For the moms who have tots or toddlers in tow. I sometimes say: "Hey, I see you got plenty of help" or "I wish I had help like you." So far, nudging a 100 percent success rate. Try this once and I guarantee you'll be hooked.

If I happen upon a group of women with shopping carts, I might say: "Watch out, male driver coming through!"

Once I asked a gal next to me as we headed for the exit' "Wanna race?". She looked startled at first, then said yes and took off. giggling.

And kudos to the checkout clerk who responded to my "Good morning!" with a "You're a bit late. It's six minutes past 12 o'clock.

You'll see that most of these episodes have two "u" characteristics: Unusual and unexpected wording. A great example: I was visiting my prim and proper mother-in-law at a nursing home. She said to me "Tell the nurse that if they don't get here soon they are going to see the biggest evacuation ever." It was many years ago but I still chuckle when I think of ir.

All right folks, that's the end of class for today. But be sure to do your homework. You'll be surprised how much fun it is.

The author wishes to acknowledge the help of Clem Fiorentino in editing this column..


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