Jerry was seven and tiny for his age, but that didn’t stop his feistiness. The summer was coming to a close, and people still teased him about his French-Canadian accent. Most of the campers and staff were from Boston and New York, and they found Jerry a great source of merriment. Not surprisingly, some of the better mimics among the staff had worked for the past two months working on their Jerry imitations.
A number of the staff were gathered in the front room of the “Scout” cabin, one of the larger sleeping cabins – three rooms full of sleeping campers, the front room with five staff beds, and a separate room for the camp’s head counselor. The counselors’ laughter could be heard outside; the murmur of their voices and the occasional shushing sounds not quite so well. Still the campers, exhausted by the last day activities, slept soundly. Their summer over, they would be heading home the next morning. One can only imagine the wonderful dreams they were having.
The campers slept soundly – all that is except Jerry. As fate would have it, he needed to pee. Flashlight in hand, he got off his cot. It was a typical summer camp bed – iron springs, thin mattress, and the standard navy blue blankets. Shivering a bit in the Maine night, he pushed his little feet into moccasin style slippers and headed into that front room. The counselors, intent on their imitations, did not notice him until the boy stood in the middle of the room.
“Ha, ha!” he said flatly. “That’s so funny I forgot to laugh.” With that, Jerry crossed the room and went into one of the two small bathrooms – sink and toilet – that were at the other end of the front room.
There was total silence except the sound of the boy’s urine splashing in the bowl, the toilet’s flush, the sink water running for a moment. Out he came, the door banging behind him. He said nothing. The counselors said nothing. Did he go back to sleep? I don’t know. I do know that the young staff members gave up their humor and turned in.
As the camp director’s son, I heard that story and I knew that some hurtful humor had done my parents and their business some real harm. Jerry, his brother, their cousins, and a few friends did not return the next summer. It would take years before we would again have a contingent from Montreal.
Humor can hurt. That was the lesson I took away.
But we all do love a good laugh, a trick, a prank. I try whenever I can to include humor in my writing. Tales From the Dew Drop Inne has a great deal of humor in it – including a couple of practical jokes, one good natured and having a great outcome and one nasty prank that blows back on the jokester. Actually, one might well say that it is a humor book, albeit darkly humorous. Perhaps that is because I think of life as the human comedy. Are we not each of us somewhat laughable? Indeed, I would argue that people at whom we cannot laugh are people whom we cannot like.
While I don’t write jokes – at least not most of the time, I do write humor because I write humanity. If there are tears and fears, frustrations and failures, alcohol abuse and prejudice, sexual incompetence and self-centeredness – and all those elements are to be found between the covers of Tales From the Dew Drop Inne, there is also the warmth and comfort of people laughing at one another and most importantly at themselves.
Life itches and torments Kenneth Weene like pesky flies. Annoyed, he picks up a pile of paper to slap at the buzzing and often whacks himself on the head. Each whack is another story. At least having half-blinded himself, he has learned to not wave the pencil about. Ken will, however, write on until the last gray cell has retreated and there are no longer these strange ideas demanding his feeble efforts. So many poems, stories, novels; and more to come.
Set in a small bar in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tales From the Dew Drop Inne tells the collective stories of the people who make the place their home – people who have not fallen off the social ladder but who are hanging on desperately at the bottom.
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