By Linda Jenkin Costanzo
If humans are the only creatures who actually laugh, what makes us chuckle or double over with laughter? Sometimes the most hilarious moments are when I mention my mistakes. Sharing them not only humbles me, it’s also a story for others to pass on.
Aunt Beady, my Dad’s sister, used to phone him and they’d roar about foolish things she’d done. As a youngster, I never understood their Irish humor, but I now realize that when I tell my friends about my mistakes, we all laugh.
Years ago, as a newlywed, I decided to make my mother-in-law’s famous peach praline pie. My mouth watered as I ladled the scrumptious pecan topping over fresh peaches. The instructions said: “450 degrees for 10 minutes, 350 for 50 minutes.”
I thought the 450 degrees would cook it faster. So I popped it in the oven for 10 minutes, pulled it out and cut a slice.
When my mother-in-law later asked how it turned out, I told her it was heavenly but not very hot after 10 minutes. She nearly collapsed on the floor with laughter. The first 10 minutes only toasted the pecans. The remaining 50 were to cook it. I still chuckle when I use the recipe.
I was searching for a good placek recipe when my son’s girlfriend offered me her family’s recipe. Eagerly, I pulled out a bread pan and started in. I grew concerned when the sponge mixture of yeast, sugar and water grew to the size of a basketball.
I added five cups of flour and knew I was in over my head on this project. Frantically, I reached for every pan. I later asked her why there was nothing mentioned about the amount the recipe yields.
She replied, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t make it; my family does and every Easter they give it out to all the relatives.”
Next Easter when I make it, I’ll consider renting space at the Broadway Market.
On a bitter cold day last February at sunset, I was passing a lake in front of a local plaza when I spotted two mallard ducks, stuck in ice offshore. I called my veterinarian’s office and was referred to the SPCA Wildlife Rehab Department. The office was just closing and couldn’t send anyone out that late in the day.
I was sick at the thought of the ducks slowly freezing to death. My sons, both volunteer firefighters, have done underwater recovery practices at this lake but they were out of town.
My hopes lifted as I thought of calling their friend to see if he had access to a raft. When I reached him and mentioned the ducks’ plight, he said, “Mrs. Costanzo, walk away.”
My mind reeled. He’s a volunteer? I couldn’t leave the ducks to die. I glanced at the winter sun sinking in the west as another frigid night approached. I told him the mallards wouldn’t survive another night. A raft could easily skim the ice to rescue them.
Again, he calmly repeated, “Mrs. Costanzo, leave it.” Silence followed. I was furious. He added, “They’re decoys.”
I knew I wouldn’t live this one down with my sons. Before I even arrived home, they knew. Their phone texts said it all.
Echoes of Aunt Beady’s laughter remind me that perhaps the best laughter is when we pay for it. If all 7 billion people in the world each shared one personal, humorous incident, I wonder how much tension we’d defuse.
The song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth” could be, “Let There Be Laughter on Earth.” And let it begin with me.