The Comedy Gland

Yesterday I was trying to get rid of a headache. A vegan headache can be difficult to diagnose if there aren’t any other symptoms suggesting illness and it’s not lack of calories or hydration. When this happens I usually drink some orange juice. It almost always works so I try this before I start popping pills.

I grabbed a glass of OJ with no regard for the type of glass. I mean, who cares? Especially when my head hurts. But The Chef likes to point out such faux pas to me. Some people are sticklers for the vessel matching the beverage. Wrapping paper matching the occasion. Attire matching the formality of the event. The Chef is one of Those People. So the fact that I put orange juice in a pint glass (for beer)? This could not pass without rebuke.

After we discussed where this matchy-match rule could be shoved and whether or not the sun does or doesn’t shine there, a memory hit me so hard in the comedy gland I laughed until I cried and couldn’t catch my breath long enough to explain it to The Chef. All I could get out was, The pants do not have to match the boy, Chef!

The comedy gland is located in the belly. When you laugh so hard and so deeply you have to grab that one spot on your belly and it feels like you’re dying of funny; that’s your comedy gland. Medical professionals will insist the sensation is really just your abdominal muscles contracting because this is partly true. It’s easier to deny the existence of the comedy gland if we are given something semi-believable in exchange. But when the abs contract in hardcore hilarity they stimulate the comedy gland. It’s tough to do. It’s got to be some seriously hilarious shit to reach the comedy gland. A little chuckle isn’t going to cut. It’s got to be a real gut-buster, which is aptly named because this what a stimulated comedy gland feels like it’s doing.

While I was working as a full-time yoga teacher and trainer, I picked up some side hustle as a part-time nanny for a family with two small children. Son was four. Daughter was teething. At that time one of the biggest family battles was getting Son to wear pants. Son did not see the point in wearing anything other than underwear. Wearing clothes over clothes seemed stupid to him when one garment worked just fine. The parents indicated upon hire that one of my goals as the new nanny was to get Son to wear pants. You’ve got one job here, Nanny. Get the kid dressed by time we come home. Sounds easy enough but it wasn’t. In order to be sustainable the kid would have to WANT to wear pants. It took weeks to find a tactic that finally worked.

Only when it finally worked and I proudly presented Son to his father on the evening of the big day, my satisfaction was quickly deflated. I had accidentally dressed the kid in his sister’s pants. Girl pants. But because his sister was an INFANT it did not occur to me that any pair of pants big enough to fit a four year old would belong to her. They were pants she’d been given secondhand to be worn in the future, when she grew into them. The family had just moved into the house. They were still unpacking. Some of Daughter’s someday clothes got mixed in with Son’s any day clothes. I neglected to check for gender before finally getting Son to wear a pair of pants — any pants — and the whole damn day I was flying so high on the wings of my success it never registered with me that boys don’t wear capris. Until Father came home.

The father’s face. The tone of his voice. Oh my gland. He was one of Those People. Those people who think the pants should match the boy. And since only a blithering idiot would make such a mistake I must have done it on purpose. I fell all over myself trying to convince him I was a blithering idiot while choking back giggles at the notion I’d done it on purpose.

It was all too hilarious for me to contain and the fact that I was openly laughing in the face of his father’s ire immediately immortalized me to Son. I became godlike. Dad is mad and she thinks it’s funny. She must be more powerful than Dad. The child was visibly dazzled. This bedazzlement was not diminished at all when we were both ordered to go get something more appropriate on the boy because I continued laughing the whole time.

I never had a bit of trouble getting or keeping pants on the kid after this. My original winning tactic had been to lead the kid to believe that the adults he admired acquired the skills to accomplish their admirable feats from the pants they wore. He wanted nothing more than to grow up and operate monster construction equipment so we watched videos of large-scale construction. I made special note of the mighty pants each mighty worker wore. On the day Son wore his sister’s pants they were chosen because they were the same color blue as the driver of the giant earth mover. Son felt so formidable in those pants neither one of us noticed they were capri-length girl pants.

After the confrontation with his father these were pants which made the nanny fearless and impervious to Father’s anger, so they were obviously super-pants. Guess who wanted to wear pants all summer? Guess which pants? I never apologized for this. I’m still not sorry.

The shoes do not have to match the handbag, y’all. The carpet does not have to match the drapes. The glass does not have to match the beverage. The pants do not have to match the boy. Sometimes it is far more magical when they don’t.

— Mercy

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