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"Health-Laughing" from Goblin

by Ellis Parker Butler
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from Goblin
by Ellis Parker Butler

The best authorities having announced that laughter is good medicine, it now becomes our duty to decide what to laugh at and when. It is evident that the best cures cannot be secured by laughing at the same thing when we have adenoids and when we have fallen arches. That would be ridiculous. You put a mustard plaster on your chest when you have a cold but you do not put a mustard plaster on your head when you have dandruff. A mustard plaster on the top of the head overheats the brain, causing a high temperature with strong easterly winds which issue from the ears with a whistling noise, followed by rain or snow.

In our family, when we have adenoids, we usually laugh at Harold Lloyd but when we have fallen arches we laugh at Charlie Chaplin.

The medical scientists are now assigning the proper laugh-subjects for the various complaints. These will be published in a volume entitled "The Home Health-Laugher." They have already reached L in the list of troubles, and for Liver Complaint they recommend the joke beginning "It seems there were two Irishmen named Pat and Mike." For Lethargy we are told to laugh at anything mid-Victorian except Crocheted tidies (antimacassars), especially those tied with blue ribbons, are reserved for those suffering from Lumbago.

Professor Fossick, Chairman of the Committee on Health-Laughing, said yesterday, "The situation is already becoming serious and I fear the worst. We have not yet reached Measles and we have used up all the ordinary laugh-causers and we fear we will run entirely out of things to laugh at before we come to Rash, Ringworm and Rickets. The Sub-Committee on Tests experimented yesterday on a patient suffering from Mumps, using the jest "Who was that lady I seen you with yesterday?' 'That wasn't no lady, that was my wife,' and hardly got a smile from the patient. Not at all a hearty laugh. Indeed, so far from curing the Mumps, the patient immediately developed symptoms of Spavin, Sleeping Sickness and Varicose Veins.

"I fear," the professor continued, "that we are going to have great difficulty in finding laugh-subjects for all the diseases from M to Z. We have used all the things people usually laugh at and we are now searching the encyclopedia. Dr. Dollick suggested yesterday that we select the Pyramid of Cheops for people to laugh at when they have Nosebleed. "Did you ever hear of anyone laughing at the Pyramid of Cheops?" I asked him. "No," he said frankly.

"Do you think the Pyramid of Cheops is a joke?" I asked him.

"No," he said, "but you can see the point."

I remember when my uncle Orestes had a carbuncle on his neck and our family doctor had tried everything he knew and said that the only thing left was to try the laugh-cure. He was not a very good doctor but he had a good crop of whiskers. In this instance he told uncle Orestes to try laughing at the Delta of the Mississippi River. He told him to laugh at it half an hour before each meal and just before going to bed.

Well, you would be surprised how hard uncle Orestes found it to get a hearty laugh out of the Delta of the Mississippi. The best he could do was to giggle. Often, right in the middle of trying to laugh at the Delta of the Mississippi River uncle Orestes would think of the time Aunt Clara shut the cat in the oven and he would laugh and laugh, but that was worse than not laughing at all.

Laughing at aunt Clara shutting the cat in the oven was not a cure for carbuncles; it was a cure for Obesity, and uncle Orestes was already so unobese that when he undressed the joints of his backbone made little knobs on his stomach.

Uncle Orestes' ribs stuck out so much that one Monday when aunt Clara could not find the washboard she used uncle Orestes. He sat in the washtub and she rubbed the wet clothes up and down his ribs. All Uncle Orestes said in his meek voice was "Be careful of the buttons, Clara."

Aunt Clara had a couple of little hammers with rubber heads and when company came she entertained them by playing tunes on uncle Orestes' ribs. It was very nice music, too, except that the third rib on the left side was a little out of tune. It should have been G Sharp but it was G Flat. She usually played "Way Down Upon The Swanee River" but when people asked for an encore she played "Listen To The Mocking Bird" with variations. The only criticism of her playing I ever heard was from Miss Olga Jensen, the schoolteacher. She said it was a pity uncle Orestes didn't have more ribs so that aunt Clara could play a grand opera on him.



Saturday, October 07 at 1:12:34am USA Central
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