My sarcasm has always landed me in trouble at some point in my life. One time I told a rare book librarian, who was helping me find some art for my office, that I’d just rip a few leaves out of the Audubon elephant folio and hang them up with thumbtacks. She didn’t speak to me for weeks and watched me like a hawk for years.
Then another time I was comparing the fall of the Western Roman Empire to urban flight in the 1950s and 1960s and I was accused of being a racist. It wasn’t the comparison that was the problem, it was something snarky I said about the city of Camden, New Jersey. You know, about not wanting to live there. No one wants to be there, but a resident was personally insulted and I apologized.
And then I met a high powered individual in the Provost’s office who asked me, “So tell me about yourself.” And I answered with the infamous Steve Martin line “I was born a poor black child.” Attempts at humor don’t always break the ice. You know what I’m sayin’?
And then there’s cancer. I was with a bunch of friends having dinner and having a good laugh over this cancer business, and my friend suggested that I take my stand up on the road to various oncology units. “You should,” she said. My response “Hey, this is a tough room. What’re ya dyin’?” sent us into peals of laughter.
I honestly don’t know what I would do without my dear friends and a sharp sense of humor. It is the single thing that is saving my life. Because, at the end of the day, there’s equally as much to laugh about with cancer as there is to cry about.
For one thing: the complete and total absurdity that a bazillion of us are blogging about our tits. We all take different approaches: photography, poetry, essays, or the dissemination of public health information. Each blog is as unique as the individual. Some are good and others are okay, but they all serve a great purpose in personalizing this bizarre and sick experience that is cancer and helping each and every one of us deal. But at the end of the day we’re all just blogging about our tits. In an existential way that, to me, is hilarious. If you would have told me that I would one day post a picture of my right bazoom to the World Wide Web, I would have written you off as a loon. Now, who’s the loon?
When I first discovered the film Boob, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Who knew that some funny and talented filmmaker had created a short film about a boob that kills people. Brilliant!
Or the fantastic piece from The Onion about Eagle Scouts doing breast exams for their scout project? The rude and unhelpful receptionist from Little Britain captured with uncanny accuracy the telephone etiquette of my surgeon’s staff and the treatment by my former oncologist’s staff.
When I first started blogging—two months ago tomorrow—I thought it would last a year, tops, and then the thing would just hang in cyberspace forever while I was free to thumb my nose up at cancer and live my life. But, as is my luck, I get an upgrade to metastatic breast cancer and now I’m stuck keeping this thing up until I’m dead. What a pain in the ass.
On the face of it, there’s nothing really funny about any stage of breast cancer. It’s fucking scary and rotten that any of us have to sacrifice our hooters—our lives!–to an unrepentant jerk off like cancer. So, yeah, today it’s two months since the diagnosis.* Much has been learned, new friends have been made, and I learned who my family and friends are (and are not). Nobody gets out of this carnival alive, folks. But if I don’t make use of the sarcasm that I have forged into one of the sharpest and deadliest weapons that I will ever have, I’m as good as dead yesterday.
Embrace your inner smart ass. It will keep you alive longer.
* NOT a cancerfuckingversary.