Where I grew up, you always explained the punchline and you always doubled back on a joke at someone else's expense. You wouldn't want someone to think that you were SERIOUS when you said because I hate your guts when they asked why you weren't passing the salt.
Where Brent grew up, explaining punchlines and doubling back were cardinal sins.
You can see how this could create some discomfort.
There were people who, at our wedding, had speeches prepared which were honest and heartfelt and serious, and didn't share those speeches because the tone of the entire reception was so filled with humour that it just didn't feel cool to break the rhythm and get all serious on us....
[And afterwards I was a bit like, it was fun and all and we sure laughed a lot but nobody said anything NICE about us....which is hilarious from this perspective because I understand the Vose humour so much better now: nothing says unconditional love and acceptance like a good, solid joke at your expense when it comes to the Voses]
I mean, this is a family where people have been sending other people postcards from around the world in different languages for thirty years and nobody knows who they are from or how they are managing to make this happen, and in which my mother in law last year recieved an anonymous gift in the mail which contained the most bejewelled but floss thong I have ever seen in my life, and nobody owned up. Because nobody would: THIS IS A CARDINAL SIN.
I also have worked in a very male work environment for almost ten years, and even though there are now 50% women graduating from paramedic school, all us women who feed into the ambulance service are quickly immersed and versed in How To Keep Our Man Pants On: ie, if you're not a man you damn well better act like one but not in any way like a dyke and for GOD'S SAKE DON'T FUCKING CRY. I'm quite comfortable immersed in that environment, sensitive though I may be, because really, what you see is what you get with men and boys and its just so. much. simpler. Men, however, have similar views of humour as the Vose Family: EVERYTHING IS FODDER FOR JOKES and NEVER DOUBLE BACK.
My mom grew up in an almost all female family, maybe that's where the double back tell the punchline style of humour came from: don't get me wrong, the Smiths and the Resides laugh ALL the time and are hysterical~one of the reasons Brent and I get along so well despite both being oldest children is because we have solid senses of humour that we learned from both sets of parents. The Smiths are really good at that dry humour that slaps you in the back of the head and mocks people something fierce, and the Resides are schooled in self deprication and ridiculously good memory recall for historical family events or individual weaknesses. But there are limits, and you always pat each other on the back at the end of the day to make sure everyone knows you still love them and think they're wonderful.
Resides: back pat.
Voses: no back pat.
Smiths: if you're the subject of the joke you're not in the room, so back patting isn't necessary.
Work environment: show emotional weakness at your own risk.
All of this factored into last week when my mom posted something on facebook to the extend of: Why Is No One Commenting On This Photo Of Me [I can't actually remember what it said]? To which I replied:
Because you're ugly.
When I wrote it I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes, because it was so utterly funny and so obviously the opposite of true or acceptable that it had to be obvious I was joking, right?
But then I got the facebook silent treatment and my Aunt Lynne was all
You're not letting Melissa get away with that, are you?!!!
And my mom was all
And today she was like,
Melissa you can't say that to another woman.
OOPS! At first I thought, well what, did you think I was SERIOUS?!! And then I realized I hadn't gone BACK and said WAITAMINNIT, FB SILENT TREATMENT, YOU KNOW I WAS JOKING RIGHT?! When I didn't get jibed back. This is totally something I would say to my mom's face and expect to get smacked across the shoulder for, and snicker and be done with, but I forgot to make sure she smacked me across the shoulder on cyberspace.
Fortunately she wasn't actually mad. But it reminded me of how ten years of immersion in male work culture and nine years immersion in Vose family humour (not to mention eight years of little boy poop smack fart you're ugly humour in MY OWN HOUSEHOLD) have changed how I joke around, and how I should pay a little more attention to remembering to do it Reside style when I'm poking fun at my mom.
I think, in fact, that it is the little boys in my own household who have changed my sense of humour the most. Living with four males (five if you count the dog, who farts like a man) just makes you grow tougher skin, until finally you're a crocodile with steel leather for skin and a propensity for dishing it out Like A Man.
Sorry, mom. I'll watch my potty mouth a bit closer from here on in.
See? My mom's a very pretty woman:
Oops, I meant to post this picture: