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Monday, December 04, 2006

Anything for the Kids!

This post will contain some profanity. Even some profane references to children! If that troubles you, get the hell outta here and come back another day :)

William recently wrote a very entertaining post about The Office, and its effect on viewers. I was at first surprised to read, in the post and in many of the comments, how the humor in that show makes some people very uncomfortable. I find it extraordinarily funny, and not at all discomfiting. As I read what others had to say, though, I realized that I have developed a rather high level of tolerance for human behavior that horrifies (not in an axe-murdering way, but in a politically incorrect, socially inept kind of way) others. This is a product of working in the mental health field. For our own sanity, we supervisors at the agency where I work often laugh at things that just plain ain't funny. But we understand the function of the laughter, and accept that oddity about one another.

Discussing such things with Jif, I was reminded of a time when I, and others, behaved in such a way that our "humor" made someone else extremely uncomfortable. I used to serve on the Board of Trustees of a small private school where LG went to pre-school and kindergarten. I was on the board for years before she was born. It was by far the most painless such assignment I have ever accepted, because unlike other non-profit boards I've served on, this one had some money. Not a lot, but plenty enough, thanks to very good leadership by my neighbor, the board president, over a number of years. Because there was money to do almost everything we needed to do, meetings were quite painless and stress-free. Sometimes outrageously so, with lots of laughter and silliness. On the board were parents and other community residents from many different disciplines. There were educators, attorneys, techies, an architect, butcher, baker, candlestick maker. The one discipline that was not represented at that time, but was needed, was accounting -- a CPA.

The little building that houses the school is very, very old, with a lovely slate roof which needed repairing. The architect board member was given the task of getting prices from slate roofers in the area. She reported back to the board that she had been successful in getting a roofer at a decent price. She had haggled with him to get the price down, and he finally relented and told her, "I'll do it . . . but only because it's for the g*d#a^n%d kids!" For whatever reason, the lateness of the hour, the juxtaposition of profanity and "kids," whatever, we thought that was hilarious, and took up the chant, responding to every agenda item, "Yea, it's for the g*d#a^n%d kids! Anything for the g*d#a^n%d kids!"

That night, after the architect had presented her report, we had a guest arrive at the meeting. A CPA. We needed a CPA, and the director had invited him to meet us, see what we did, and determine whether he'd like to serve on the board with us. In service to the g*d#a^n%d kids. Of course, he hadn't been there for the start of the kid-cussing, knew nothing of its genesis earlier in the meeting. The thing was, none of us were able to muster enough maturity or propriety to stop cussing the kids after our guest arrived. And mind you, there was not a person in the room who had ever ACTUALLY cursed at a kid, except perhaps when we WERE kids. But that night, we picked up the roofer's persona and chatted on and on about the little b@st@ards, each one using a more heinous epithet or more absurdly profane turn of phrase, and everyone (except ONE person) laughing to the point of tears with each new agenda item.

I had been asked to investigate the possibility of purchasing a small, used bus for field trips. A "short bus," if you will. Truth is, I hadn't done my homework, but I offered a report something like this: "Rather than purchasing a bus for the little m*ther#uck%rs, I was thinking maybe we could work out an arrangement to use another organization's bus when they don't need it. I saw a Department of Corrections bus on the side of the road, just sitting there for hours, while the inmates picked up trash. There is no reason we couldn't have been hauling our little b@st@rds to the zoo while the cons were picking up the trash!"

My "report" was received enthusiastically, but with some modifications. "But if we've got the little sonsabitches on their bus, we oughtta have the inmates here at the school doing something!" A chorus of "Yea!"s, followed by suggestions: let the inmates landscape the playground while the g*d#a^n%d kids played among them; let the inmates volunteer in the classroom, teaching the little f*c#ers about "stranger danger," and on and on, each idea more WRONG than the one before.

The CPA/guest didn't contribute much to the meeting. And truthfully, I think most of us forgot he was there. At one point, I remembered, and noted the stunned look on his face. I thought at the time, "He ain't coming back."

He didn't.

29 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Let me say:

I love children.

I miss working with children.

I love "The Office".

I don't particularly like working in an office.

I've worked with CPAs many many times, for many years.

I don't particularly like working with CPAs.

I love this post.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

There just ain't many CPAs out there with a sense of humor. ;)

The Office does *sometimes* make me uncomfortable, but this post was funny... I can understand the CPAs "stunned look", though.

Blogger eclectic said...

I'm sorry you guys ran off your CPA with your blue streak, but h*t d@mn, that's a funny story!! Poor li'l Bean Counter...

I sit on two non-profit boards, and am fortunate that one of them has an excellent CPA. He also has an extremely well-developed sense of humor that tends, only occasionally, to the off-color. Serving on the board with him is always laughable. The other one also has an excellent CPA on board, but she, unfortunately, can't laugh. It would break her scowl.

Blogger WILLIAM said...

I was on the board of a Non-profit theater group for many years and we would have the same such conversations about our audience. We scared away many a volunteer that would occasionaly show up for meetings but were not on the inside of the joke.

As far as the Office goes. I don't mind being uncomfortable because the show is that good and I think the fact that it evokes such emotions from me is what makes it so good.

Blogger Platypus said...

Loved the post - I can imagine the meeting now and it must have been hilarious. I'm in the 'uncomfortable' camp with The Office. Not because it's bad and it doesn't stop me watching it but it's because it's so good. Those people totally exist in real life. What would be really funny would be to put me in a meeting with one of them - I think my head might explode with the sheer squirminess of it all!

Blogger Nina said...

John and I always comment to each other how we live on the dark side. You can't really see dark everyday and not find some humor.

I miss working, but don't miss the office dynamic. Except for the times that we sat around laughing at something to the point of tears about something not funny.

I'm laughing thinking about the CPA going home and telling his family what nut cases you all were. :)

Blogger Squirl said...

Sometimes you just have to laugh at things that are wrong. Before you can do that, though, there has to be an implicit understanding that it's all in good fun. Your school board is an excellent example.

Dark humor is wonderful. We need it because the subjects are, sometimes, so emotion-laden that laughing puts them in better perspective.

You'd better believe I'd be right in there with you guys, laughing at the g*d#a^n%d kids. :D

Anonymous Hemlock said...

Sometimes people just need to get over themselves.

Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

First, I must admit that I have never seen “The Office.”
I suppose my years as a social worker and minister have also developed in me a high level of tolerance for human behavior. As we both know, Susie, that ain’t necessarily horrific. Laughter can promote sanity when everything else is senseless. Of course, if one ain’t in on the joke…
Did ya’ll ever find another CPA?

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

This reminds me of the department meetings we would have when I was a sys admin. Only this is better, because swearing about the kids is even WRONGER.

If I'd been that CPA, I'd have thought, "What a fascinating bunch of people - must come back for the next motherf@cking meeting!"

Blogger Susie said...

mrB, I was relieved to see your comment, because I know you love children, and after I posted this, I was thinking, "Uh-oh, this might be over the line . . ." but if you like it, I'm good :)

ck, I try not to broad-brush people, but I have yet to meet a CPA with a sense of humor. We were rude, at least, though, not to give him a little background info.

eclectic, well, that just goes to show, there are funny CPAs. Just not here.

william, your post, in addition to being very funny, was very provocative because it hadn't occurred to me that the show makes "normal" people uncomfortable. People who choose to hang out with nuts as a career are not normal people. We get so good at hearing the most crazy-ass things and not batting an eye, not saying, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND, YOU CAN'T SAY THINGS LIKE THAT?!" that not much phases us. That's not necessarily a good thing. I think it's a tribute to the show's writing that people both laugh and squirm. It is this generation's "All in the Family," maybe.
One of my favorites:
Michael is trying to pick out who in the office might be gay, so he "won't offend anyone." Dwight suggests that he just behave as though everyone is gay, and try not to be offensive to anybody. And Michael says, "Yea, right! I don't think people would really appreciate me treating them like they're GAY!"

platypus, they DO exist! I just wonder if they recognize themselves and recoil in horror when they realize what asses they are. Or maybe even change a little bit?

nina, it's a wonder he didn't try to shut the school down, hearing us talk about inmate volunteers! Almost every staff meeting we have degenerates into a very bizarre, hilarious occasion, about things that aren't one bit funny.

squirl, excellently explained, my brilliant, classy sister. When everyone present knows there is genuine goodwill, respect, etc., there's no harm. It's just that our guest CPA didn't know that. You'd think he might have guessed . . . but no.

hemlock, ain't that the truth?

ssnick, we did find someone, and I'm sure we were much better behaved when they visited :)

bucky, yea, a school board swearing at the children, that's kind of a pinnacle of wrongness, as those things go :)

Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

This is terrific, Susie. It's the kind of thing I would have gotten deep into had it occurred on my watch.

Blogger Lynn said...

Oops! But, still -- that's damn funny, Susie. But you know how I am when it comes to profanity. I'd probably laugh if I saw someone trip and fall, so long as they threw a couple of eff words out on the way down. Shameful admission, I know:-(

I have a potty-mouth.

Blogger Closet Metro said...

m*ther#uck%ng CPA's.

Blogger Traci said...

I stopped by to say 'hi' and what do I find...a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker and a CPA?!! ROFLMAO! It's a good thing I put my drink down before I got here though!

Anonymous kalki said...

Holy heavens, this is hilarious! If I'd been there, I would have been crying from laughing right along with you. Actually, I am anyway.

Blogger Nilbo said...

See, that's why I know we'd totally be BFF.

Blogger Ortizzle said...

If you hand bothered to explain it to him, he would probably not have gotten it anyway. I think the prison bus was pretty resourceful. Did it ever work out?!

Blogger Amy said...

Hee! I love when the funniness just snowballs like that! And for years, whenever you think of it, it gives itself back to you and you are laughing again.

Anonymous OddMix said...

I think they have some sort of humor lobotomy requirement as a prerequisite for entry into CPA school. Financial auditors can be just as bad - but sometimes develop a seriously dark and disturbed sense of humor. I work with an office full of them.

Anonymous DonnaJo said...

Here's the quote you were thinking of for William's blog, and is it ever true!

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. Elizabeth Stone

Blogger KimS said...

Yay for profanity, because it made me laugh.

Slightly in that vein-- one of my favorite blogs (written by a Christian) is Sara's goingjesus.com. And no visit there is complete without clicking on her "cavalcade of bad nativities" and her "wtfwjd" store.

Love it. I am not quite brave enough to wear one of her shirts-- but in my dark little heart, I want to. The only thing that stops me is what the God*amned children might think.

Blogger KimS said...

...oh, and The Office? Made me twitch for years because working at a university leadership program was TOO MUCH LIKE THAT.

I can watch it without feeling panic now, and I recognize that it's genius. But the fact that you've worked with people that disturbed and/or clueless really does delete some of the funny quotient.

Anonymous LadyBug said...


Blogger Susie said...

hoss, I'm sure you would have made some valuable contributions to the meeting :)

potty-mouth lynn, I confess that I used to sit by my apartment window in the winter and watch people fall on the icy sidewalk. And laugh even if I couldn't hear the cursing.

closet metro, sounds like you might have some personal experience with them.

traci, glad to hear you laughing :)

kalki, your input would have been most welcome, I'm sure :)

nilbo, heh. I got you up today.

ortizzle, see, I thought that was resourceful, too. I think they eventually bought a shuttle bus from a hotel!

amy, you are (as if we didn't know this already), a woman who understands humor.

oddmix, be careful out there! (The thought of your office gives me the shivers.)

donnajo, was that from a while ago? Anyhow, I know that quote (although I didn't know its source) and it IS absolutely true :)

kimS, that is funny! I've been trying to think of what we could tell the *&#%#^ children that wtfwjd stands for.

ladybug, I love it when you snork at me :)

Blogger PI said...

That's the sort of committee I wouldn't mind serving on. What was perfectly normal when I was a gel is now 'beyond the pale' and I get into trouble with my grandchildren -the little b------s!

Blogger Mamacita said...

Wait a minute. . . people who work in the schools with a finely honed sense of humor? I am not familiar with that concept.

That being said, Hahahahahahahahahah, I love you people!

Lucille Ball once said that she didn't trust anybody who never said 'shit.' I totally agree with her.

Blogger tiggerprr said...

Sooo funny! Congratuations on your Perfect Post award! :)

Blogger Susie said...

Welcome, and humble thanks to those of you coming via Hoss and the Perfect Post people! I hope you'll come back again!


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