I haven’t written anything in a while. Not like previous Barnyard hiatuses where I’m gone for two months, but it was still a pretty significant amount of time. Sometimes, when I’m not writing for the Barnyard, I’m working on other writing projects, but not this time. This time was different.
Last week my world got turned upside down. Everyone knows the story at this point: two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. And for several days, the world wasn’t funny. In a time when sadness, confusion, and fear dominated, a sense of “funny” was hard to come by. And the worst part was; I felt like at that point, humor was needed more than anything. But it was impossible. Sure, the easy stuff came to me:
“Wow, I guess running is really blowing up in Boston, eh?”
But as the body count rose, and horrible, graphic photos found their way onto my computer screen (it seemed like the most innocent and well-meaning headlines showed me the worst possible stuff) I realized there was absolutely nothing funny about it. Making the situation even more difficult was the fact that it was essentially ongoing. Typically, a moment in time passes and then people are left to pick up the pieces and come to terms with what just happened. But in this situation we never got the answers that people were so desperately seeking in the days after. The suspects were still at large, the usual big players didn’t came forward to take responsibility, and for the first time ever we couldn’t immediately peg this on a bunch of Muslims.
I wanted so desperately to write something funny. Even if it didn’t make anybody else laugh, I wanted to do it for myself. I wanted to be able to offer someone an escape, and to use the article as a cathartic experience. On more than one occasion I sat in front of a blank word document…unable to come up with anything. They were still out there, and people were still sitting in a hospital, adjusting to a life without legs.
I knew things were getting bad when the kings of comedy: (no, not those Kings of Comedy) the Onion writers were drawing blanks. Their articles about the Boston bombings didn’t read like comedy articles. They didn’t read like anything. I didn’t even crack a smile when I read them. There was no punch line anywhere in the post. It seemed like they put the material out, just to get something out and to shock people. In my opinion, that wasn’t what anybody needed. It wasn’t that the articles deserved the god-forsaken label “too soon”, but that there wasn’t an element of humor anywhere within them. And when the Onion comes up short, it’s a very telling moment.
So why am I telling you this? I’m not sure. In part because I feel like I need to get this out to get back to writing. These thoughts and feelings were blocking me. And also, because in a way I feel like I failed. Part of me believes that I should I have been able to come up with something. I feel like I should have been able to provide a chuckle or laugh to someone who needed it. But in the end, even Michael Gallo can fail. The Boston Marathon Bombings defeated me. But only for a week. I’m back, and better than ever.
Also, I had a double ear infection, and that wasn’t helping anything.