Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘laughing’

Being Painted

A missing excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

As many students have attested, one of the skills Master Toshiba was known for was her incredible ability to remain as still as a rock and blend into her surroundings like a chameleon. She could sit stand or lie in the same position for days, barely breathing, and seemingly unaware of her body, due to her deep states of concentration (or sleep). One incidence that exemplified this trait was when the monastery was being painted.

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Several men and women from the village were hired to paint the outside of the monastery and the surrounding wall. They mixed their paints and began on a Monday morning. By Wednesday late afternoon they were halfway done. When they stopped for lunch, Sister Sitadown asked them if they’d seen Master Toshiba, as she’d been missing for two days. The workers replied that they hadn’t seen her and thought The Master was out of town.

“No,” Sister Sitadown said. “She had no other engagements. She told Sister Craven that she was going to the garden to sit and that was the last we’ve seen of her.”

“Would you like us to help look for her,” the painter’s asked?

“Yes, please,” replied the worried Sister.

Everyone began searching the grounds and calling out for Master Toshiba, using all the names she was known by. “Master Toshiba!” “Abbott Tova!” “Mistress Tarantino!” “Master Tarantino!” “Mistress Tova!” “Abbess!” “Master!” “Mistress!” “Sister!” “Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba!” “Hey, Lady!”

One of the painters was walking close to the outer wall. He put his foot on the wall and lifted himself up to look over to the other side.

“Yeoh!!!” someone hollered. The wall moved and the painter fell to the ground. “What are you doing?” a voice bellowed. “You kicked me in the shin!”

It was then that the painter recognized Master Toshiba, as she stepped away from the wall. She’d been painted over in the same color as the wall.

“I’m sorry Master,” the painter replied. “I didn’t see you.”

“How could you not see me?”

“Well,” the painter replied. “Look at yourself.”

Master Toshiba glanced down at her clothes and lifted her hands in front of her face. She looked at the wall and started laughing. The painter laughed with her. They began laughing so loudly that the others came running to see what was so funny. Sister Sitadown arrived.

“So, there you are. We’ve been looking all over for you.”

“Well,” Master Toshiba grinned. “Here I am.” She held up her painted hands and everyone laughed again.

“Next time,” Sister Sitadown said. “We’ll have to attach a flag to your head.”

“A flag, or some bells around my neck, like a cow, so you’ll always know where I’ve wondered off to,” Master Toshiba added.

More illusionary tales at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Who’s Who?

An excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire, whoever that is.

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Mistress Toshiba and her adherents were walking back from town when a long-time student of Zen, who had studied with another teacher for fifteen years, passed by.

“Good day Mistress,” the student bowed.

Mistress Toshiba laughed loudly. The student stopped and looked confused.

“Why do you laugh Abbott Toshiba? Was it something I said?” The Mistress laughed again. “Are you laughing at me?” That question made Mistress Toshiba laugh even harder. She fell to her hands and knees with laughter. She was laughing so hard that she began to roll around on the ground.

“I don’t see what’s so funny!” the student exclaimed.

The Abbott was finally able to constrain herself and propped herself up with her hand.

“If you could see yourself, you would be laughing too,” Mistress Toshiba grinned.

The students looked at themselves up and down and didn’t see anything out of place or a cause for ridicule.

“What are you talking about? There’s nothing funny about me.”

“Like I said,” the Abbott replied, brushing the dust off her robe as she stood. “If you could see your SELF, you’d be laughing too.”

At that moment, the passing student realized that she did not know what her SELF was, let alone if there was such a thing. She immediately fell too her knees.

“Dear Master Toshiba, I beg that you take me as your student and allow me to attain wisdom in your community.”

“You are welcome to join us, whoever you are,” the Abbott replied, “but you do not need my permission. Who do you think ‘I’ am anyway?”

More who’s laughing at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

No Smiling On Thursdays

Excerpt from short story collection for children Solar Girl and Lunar Boy.

No Smiling On Thursdays

Papa said, “No smiling on Thursdays!”

I kept my head buried in Mama’s shoulder. My tears were getting her shirt wet.

Papa asked Mama, “Isn’t today Thursday?”

Mama said, “Yep, Thursday all day.”

I looked at Papa, then at Mama and put my head back in Mama’s shirt. Papa got down on his knees, went behind Mama and peeked at me over her shoulder.

“No smiling on Thursdays!” he said smiling.

My sniffles stopped. My face felt happy. A big smile jumped on my lips.

“Hey!” Papa said, “This is Thursday! No smiling!”

A giggle ran out my mouth, then another and another. It was a giggle race. I couldn’t stop.

Mama and Papa both had pretend mean faces on and said, “Stop that! This is Thursday.” Then they smiled and laughed.

***

At school, my friend, Ben, ran up to the teacher crying. He put his arms around her leg and his face on her pants.

I went behind the teacher, looked between her legs at Ben and said, “This is Thursday.” He looked at me funny for a second, then put his head back on her leg. I said it again, “This is Thursday Ben. There’s no smiling allowed on Thursdays.”

Ben stopped crying. “What?” he asked.

“There’s no smiling on Thursdays,” I said again. He smiled and looked up at the teacher, who smiled back.

“Hey!” I said, just like Papa. “Stop smiling!”

Ben started laughing, let go of the teacher’s leg and tried to catch me.

“No smiling!” I shouted, as we both ran off to play.

***

At bedtime I heard Mama and Papa yelling. Papa came into my room to help with my pajamas. He looked sad.

Then Mama came in. She looked sad too.

After Papa buttoned the last button on my pajamas, I went behind him and said, “Don’t forget Papa. No smiling on Thursdays.”

He looked over his shoulder at me, then up at Mama and smiled.

“What?” he said. “Is this Thursday?”

“Yep!” I nodded back.

“You’re right!” said Mama. She smiled at Papa and kissed him on the cheek. She looked happy. “How could we forget?” she said.

Mama and Papa started tickling me all over.

“No smiling!” I said in between laughing, yelling and giggling. “It’s Thursday!”

MORE STORIES

Laughing At Death

A famous comedian once said that, “Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease.” And as far as I know, it still happens to ten out of ten of us. So, is it OK to laugh about this solemn reality? Is it OK to poke a little fun at the Grim Reaper and not offend or upset anybody? I think so. In fact, I believe it is our ability to step back and take a lighter look at death, dying and grief that can, on occasion, help us get through some of the most painful moments in our lives.

I recall an incident many years ago when a family and I were all keeping a bedside vigil with a woman in her seventies, who we’ll call Martha. Martha was going in and out of consciousness and talking out loud to and about people we couldn’t see. One evening she kept looking up by the ceiling in one corner of the room and saying, “The light. The light.”

Her daughter replied, “Yes, Mama. Go towards the light.”

Martha became more agitated and repeated, “The light. The light.”

We all smiled, believing she was speaking about the light at the end of the tunnel that some people describe in near-death experiences. I said, “Yes, Martha. It’s OK. Go towards the light.”

Finally, out of total exasperation, Martha forced herself to sit up. She opened her eyes, pointed at the corner of the room and said, “The light bulb. It needs a new light bulb.” Then she lay back down and continued her dialogue with family members who had already died.

Embarrassingly, we all realized that she had been talking about the lamp in the corner all along. I went to check it and discovered that it did indeed need a new light bulb.

A woman whose husband of thirty years had died just six months previous to our meeting had been talking for quite some time about the deep pain and sadness that had enveloped her since his death, when she suddenly burst out laughing. She laughed uncontrollably for a few minutes and after blowing her noise and wiping her face said, “He could be the biggest pain in the butt when it came to doing the dishes. If he ever did them at all, I had to do them again. His idea of clean wouldn’t have passed mustard at the city dump,” she grinned. “He’d die laughing if he saw the sink now. I haven’t done the plates or silverware in a week. The food’s so caked on it will probably take a chisel to get it off.” She paused, then said, “I never thought I’d miss his dirty dishes.”

Then there was Cliff, a retired schoolteacher. Cliff told me this story about his deceased friend Barney with a very somber, straight face.

“You know,” he said. “Barney and I were best friends for over thirty years. I remember a couple of times before he died when we talked about reincarnation and all that stuff. Neither of us have ever been very religious and didn’t think much about it, but
we agreed that if it was real, that whoever died first would come back and let the other know what it was like.”

Cliff paused, to make sure he had my attention.

“Well,” he continued. “After Barney passed on I went to the same little bench on West Cliff Drive where he and I used to sit and shoot the breeze for hours. You know, that one by the lighthouse?” I nodded. “I went there every day and waited, just in case, by some fluke, this reincarnation thing was legit. Well, wouldn’t you know it, last Saturday I was sitting on our bench when I hear someone whisper, ‘Cliff. Cliff.’”

I sat back a little and raised my eyebrows at Cliff, with some suspicion, but he continued with so much sincerity that I couldn’t dismiss it altogether.

“I’m not making this up,” he said adamantly. “So, I look around and don’t see anybody. Then I here it again.”

‘Cliff. It’s me, Barney.’

“Barney?” I say. “Is that really you?”

‘Yep.’

“Well I’ll be,” I exclaimed. “Where are you? I can’t see you.”

‘Naw,’ Barney replied. ‘They let me come like this for a little bit to let you know what’s up with this reincarnation thing.’

“What do you mean?” I said.

‘Well, it’s the funniest thing,’ Barney explained. ‘All I do nowadays is sleep, make love and eat.’

“What?” I said.

‘Yeah. That’s all we do,’ Barney reiterated. ‘Sleep, eat, make love, go back to sleep, then wake up and do it all over again.’

“Well, I finally had enough of this nonsense,” Cliff explained, “so I asked him straight out, “So, old friend. Who are you now and where are you?”

“And you know what he says?” I shook my head no. “He says, ‘I’m a rabbit on a breeding ranch in Idaho.’”

I’d been had by one of the best. Cliff and I both chuckled over his story. He said it felt good to be able to laugh. “Barney and I used to say, if you can’t laugh at yourself now and then, then you’re taking life much to seriously.”

Cliff was on to something. It shows no disrespect towards those who have died to have a good laugh, even if it relates to them. In fact, most deceased friends and family would want nothing more than our happiness if they were still here to tell us so. As the centurion George Burns used to say, “If I look in the morning paper at the obits and see that my name isn’t there, I know it’s a good day.”

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