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Chatterbox: A little polka moment


When I die, I want a polka party, not a wake.

I’m not quite sure how my family will fare; they didn’t seem thrilled when I mentioned it. Grief is cathartic and the process of it, with the support of others who feel the loss at any level, is imperative but it’s still, well … it’s all so … sad. So, I agreed to a wake, followed by a polka party. Laughter is most necessary when there is too much sadness to deal with.

That brings me to Tiffany. She’s a young girl whose videos I watch on Facebook. I caught her by accident one day and she was so funny I decided to follow her so I could see all her creative and clever work. She makes me laugh and, with over 165,000 followers, I’m not alone.

Shortly after George Floyd was murdered, she did a live show – not her usual video, and it touched me. I had talked, that very week, in my column about the American condition being uniquely difficult right now and how I used to write about the weather. She was facing that exact moment with her vlog because she felt “a weird pressure” to make a statement about the murder, race relations, and the resulting turbulence.

My heart broke for her; to me she’s just a kid … late 30s, maybe. She showed her trembling hands and repeatedly said how uncomfortable she was, feeling too unqualified to even share her opinions on the Floyd murder. Clearly, this was out of her comfort zone.

Pressed to step away from her comedy, she was open and honest and did a good job explaining herself: she’s an addict in recovery; she makes people laugh with her videos; she could only speak her own truth and sentiments. Even shaking, what she shared was golden, and if all anyone takes away with them are her words that, “Kindness goes further than hate,” this video is a must-see. She was total honesty and sheer eloquence.

She came back after a very brief hiatus. Most of us can understand her reticence because most of us are experiencing pressure to discuss current politics, protests, and the Floyd case. Even if it’s only with family or really close friends and we think it’s going to be okay, simple exchanges of opinions can heat up fast. For many of us, it’s out of our comfort zone. We’d rather keep topics to the weather and our health.

Here, we already talked about how Chatterbox has evolved over the years. Like Tiffany, I prefer the comedy, the jokes, the laughter, the light side. Gradually, we left that zone and discussed numerous issues that weren’t funny. They went from things as simple as the lengthy closure of Kitchens Lane in New Hope to the life-changing, world-wide dilemma of climate change; some things were just too important not to discuss. So, like the trembling vlogger, pushed completely out of her happy place, many of us are sharing our deep concerns about hard things that just cannot be ignored.

Tiffany returned with a great new video, once again making her viewers laugh. I thought, why not? Laughing when we want to cry or scream, or when feel laughing is inappropriate because of any current condition, is something we usually either frown on, or are frowned upon for. It does, though, function like the valve on a pressure cooker.

Right now, the state of the United States is a pressure cooker and anything but united. There are many facts to face that should have been resolved long ago, or never happened at all. Frustration, anger, sadness, futility, defiance, overdue resolutions, and baseless, useless hatred and implacability are all being tear-gassed and swept up in streets and towns across America. So, yes, we want to scream and cry – that’s justified, but we need to laugh too … also justified.

In America, during the Great Depression, Laurel and Hardy eased our pain a little while at a time. Through World War II, we had Abbott and Costello. My dearest friend who lost a son at 37 repeats the mantra that happiness is a choice. And then, there is that polka party, with a band and dancing, and permission to celebrate a life instead of mourning a death as clusters of bereaved people share old stories and a good chuckle.

So, Tiffany was back today. She dyed her hair red … really red … and she made me laugh aloud. I needed that. We all need that, and we need to know that’s okay.