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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fred and the Funny Hat

            My friend Fred was always ready to accept a dare.  On this particular summer evening we were looking for something to entertain ourselves and a milkshake sounded pretty good.

             This was after our sophomore year in high school in the summer of 1967.  Neither one of us could drive yet, so since Fred lived about eight miles from my house we didn't get to see each other very often during the summer. On this day he managed to get his parents to drop him off at my parents' house so he could spend the night and we could hang out some. 

            At some point we started rummaging around through some of my parents' old show business props and costumes and ran across an old battered silk top hat.  The hat had been smashed, fabric worn and torn, and looking like something that could have belonged to an elegant bum.  Fred put the hat on and he looked so utterly ridiculous that a light bulb went off in my head.

             I told Fred that I would pay for his milkshake if he would walk with me to the Dairy Dip ice cream stand that was on the highway near our house and wear the top hat.   The image of Fred walking down the street with that silly hat struck me as an absolutely hilarious thing that no one would have the nerve to do.  Fred didn't hesitate and agreed to do it. 

            We started walking and I was giddy with excitement.  Soon I was giggling like a girl and eventually laughing so hard that I could barely keep on my feet.  There wasn't anybody else around so nobody could see Fred, but I was thinking about how funny it was going to be when we got to Dairy Dip.

             In reality I suppose none of this would have really been funny to anyone else, but I was greatly amused.  Fred was tall and lanky, with black rimmed glasses and a hair line that seemed to be threatening to recede even at his young age.  He looked like a sixty year-old trapped in a sixteen year-old's body.  And he kept such a serious expression throughout it all.

             By the time we reached Dairy Dip, I had mostly regained my composure, although stifled laughter remained pent up inside of me and could erupt into an uncontrollable outburst at any minute.  Periodically my body would convulse with throes of silent held in laughter.  Fred remained stoic.  Nobody else seemed to notice Fred and his hat.  I had pictured startled stares, pointing fingers, and delirious hilarity among the Dairy Dip patrons. There was no reaction whatsoever.  It was only funny to me.

             On the walk back home we savored the cool rich milkshakes.  My demeanor was happy, but calmed.  It still brought a smile whenever I would glance over at Fred and see him looking as serious as he could be and wearing the funny hat.  Perhaps no one else had seen the humor in it, but it sure cracked me up.

             Have you ever found something to be enormously funny only to realize that no one else did?  What were some of the silly things you dared your friends to do or that you did?



  1. My friend and myself got on stage in Enniskillen N. Ireland and played Tambourine rather badly alongside a top Irish entertainer.
    He was trying to warm the auience up before recording a dvd. We certainly warmed them alright. But in fairness to us we played to a tune that was so slow not the tempo one would associate with a tambourine,

    Thanks for the laugh Lee, certainly made my day.


  2. Too funny! I have an odd sense of humor, so I can see that happening to me.
    I was with a friend and we met his uncle for lunch. I'd purchased a new record and reached for the bag to show his uncle. I knocked over my Coke and it dumped into my lap. My friend's uncle stared silently. My friend hid under the table from embarassment. Me? I laughed hysterically! (What was I gonna do - cry?) So I always claim that my most embarassing moment was actually someone else's. (And I thought it was really funny!)

  3. And no one else found it funny? What was wrong with those people?

  4. No story to share, but I can see where you found humor in Fred and his hat. Thanks for the laugh this morning.

    Thoughts in Progress

  5. well, as far as I've heard people in USA don't have a reaction even when someone falls down in the middle of the street experiencing a heart-attack or something :( so I'm not surprised that they didn't notice you two whimsical devils :)

  6. I have a vivid imagination, and like most people I can visualize a joke, or a scenario, etc. which makes it much more funny to me.

    I cannot remember what I said, thought, or what, but one Sunday night, while attempting to teach the evening service, I thought of something funny, I visualized and began to laugh. I could not stop laughing. I was in the pulpit, about to preach and could not stop laughing.

    Eventualy and one by one members of the congregation began to laugh, not because they knew what I was thinking or visualizing, but laughter is contagious. Soon we were all laughing, they didn't know at what (other than me), I couldn't stop. I ended the Sunday Service and we went home still gigling and laughing. Man I wish I could remember about what, but maybe it is good I don't, huh?

    I remember the days of I dare you and I double down dare you, but I can't think now (40 years later) of any particular dares I dared or accepted. Other than jumping off an extremely high "cliff" over-looking a lake once. Thank God I didn't break a neck, etc.

  7. How disappointing! Still, that was a really fun story. Sorry I can't think of any of my own examples.

  8. I really get such a strong image of a tall, lanky guy who is a natural comedian. Sort of like those vaudevillians.

  9. Yvonne -- They can't blame you, but it's all the worse to be on stage in front of an audience.

    L.Diane -- Maybe that is what is referred to as "inappropriate humor"? A laugh at someone else's expense is often a one-sided affair, but when you gotta laugh you gotta laugh.

    Alex -- I guess maybe they were too engrossed in decided what ice cream they were going to get?

    Mason -- Glad to brighted part of your day.

    Dezmond -- People here often don't like to become involved, even if it's just something fun.

    Gregg -- I have done things like that. And the bad part is that you often go back and realize that there was really nothing funny. It's difficult to figure how humor works sometimes. But you're right, laughter can be very contagious.

    Matthew -- I'm sure somewhere in your past you have some funny secret lurking.

    Lisa -- Fred did have a natural sense for that and part of it was that he was usually so serious looking. He exuded this sense of incongruity in the way he would come across.

  10. Your story made me smile, Lee! I can just picture it. I'm stunned others didn't seem to find it funny, though!

  11. Nothing? Not even a double-take? And that was before Slash made it cool. I'd bet they all went home and said "You'll never guess what I saw..."
    I thought it was pretty funny the other day when I was shoveling snow & listening to Cyprus Hill. LA Gangsta rap is pretty far removed from my Ontario suburb.

  12. A good story of friendship. It reminds me of a life long friend that I've had since age 5 and some of our antics - which I won't share here.

  13. Well, it may not have gotten a laugh out of anyone at the time, but it's a funny story to me!

  14. lol Great story! I enjoyed picturing your friend in the top hat.

  15. Hi Lee .. that was funny .. I remember getting my brothers into hysterics in Basle, Switzerland in a VERY posh upmarket hotel .. in the middle of the dining room - they did place us there! Typical kids and I didn't help my mother in stopping it .. it was just hysterical - whatever we found so .. I'm sure no-one us but the three of us did ..

    Top Hat ... eating ice-cream .. could have had a chocolate flake in it .. like a cigar .. do you get those in the States? Good story .. thank you - Hilary

  16. Talli -- This was in Tennessee -- maybe it looked normal to them.

    Will -- I live in L.A. and I don't hear anybody listening to Cypress Hill. If they are I guess I wouldn't recognize it anyway.

    Anita -- Fred and I had some good times.

    Golden Eagle --I'm glad you appreciated Fred's antic.

    MPax -- I wish I had been able to include an actual picture.

    Hilary -- I haven't seen the ice cream treats like you describe over here, but it would have been a nice touch.

  17. I can see it and you cracking up! I was in college and it was a long weekend in the dorm.
    Friends n' I decided to go to the library, our funds were limited. I guess we were talking to loud, so I went in the children section and started talking with the book titles. Finally one gal caught on and we talked via titles. We laughed so hard silently! Other friends didn't get it~

  18. My family has got a saying: 'it was a you-had-to- have-been-there moment'.
    I find many things funny that they don't. However, as the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. I'd rather have an over-active Sense Of Humour than none at all.

  19. Happens often, especially with wifey. Still can't believe after all these years she doesn't find gaseous emissions and other bodily noises funny. Go figure.

  20. What a great story, lol. My son and I have this sense of humor and way of conveying it to each other that cracks us up - but everyone else thinks we're just nuts, teehee.

  21. Ellen -- Sometimes among people we know the humor thread becomes so private that no one else could understand.

    Anne -- Amen to that. It's been said that laughter helps keep you healthy and I whole heartedly agree with that. And it can be fun to be silly.

    Stephen -- Some people just don't get it. But then again she may find things funny that you don't. Humor can be very subjective.

    Marvin --- Maybe it's due to a specific humor gene that's been passed down in your family. Then again maybe you are nuts!

  22. Every day of my life.

    That's really funny! I would have totally reacted to that crazy hat.

  23. I do love your tales of childhood. Yes things have tickled me in the past that peobably wouldn't make others laugh at all,but I can't think of any of them at the moment. :O)

  24. Is this true? You've never told me this story. I feel like I've been saying that a lot lately.

  25. Have I ever found something to be enormously funny only to realize that no one else did???

    --That's the story of my entire life!

  26. Karen -- Some people just don't know what's really funny I guess.

    Madeleine -- And if you thought of them there's probably a good chance you wouldn't think they are funny now. I think as children our sense of humor tends to be very different than what an adult perceives.

    Emilee -- That is an absolutely true story. There are probably a whole lot of stories you still haven't heard.

    Andrew -- Somehow I can believe that.


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