Monday, October 12, 2009

A quiz, or PSA

Let’s say you know someone with cancer. Someone charming, witty, winsome, funny (ha-ha, not strange), with a wicked sense of humor, perhaps a dry wit with a heavy touch of smartassery. All hypothetical here of course. And let’s say this person has a bunch of hockey-playing-and-watching friends, one of whom posts on Facebook that he’s going to have tickets that he’ll need to give away, since it turns out he has games that he’s playing in on those nights. This of course starts a slew of commentary, along the lines of “me, me, meeeee, I want the tickets” and so on. Then I – I mean the hypothetical person – pipes in with a comment to the effect of “Helloooo, what about CancerGirl here, doesn’t that get me anywhere, me with my Sad Cancer Face?”

Now. Your response to this should be:

a) Nothing. Crickets.

b) An indignant nothing, fraught with disapproval. There’s nothing funny about The Cancer.

c) An uplifting homily or favorite quote: “You’re strong! You’ll be fine! Keep fighting!”

d) Nothing. Obviously this person is drawing from a deep, deep well of pain, and far be it from you to stem that tide of emotions. She’s so brave.

e) A smartass comment in return: “Cancer, hmph. Get a stem-cell transplant and maybe we’ll talk.”

The correct answer is (drum roll please):.......e. Shocking, I know! Or at least I surmise it must be based on how many people in such situations go for a-d. Now, I’m not suggesting that when a friend tells you he or she has cancer, that you go running out to get the “101 Best Knock-Knock Cancer Jokes for the New Millenium!” book. And I’m also not saying that when you see your friend, the first words out of your mouth should be “Hey, so what free shit are you getting these days, you ol’ cancer faker you?!” Because if they’re having a bad day, then that’s not such a good idea.

But if your friend makes the first joke and goes on from there, then by all means, pick up that cancer hilarity ball and run with it. Because otherwise your friend will be forced to do what I had to do in the situation above – the classic “Hello? Bueller? What, like a person gets cancer and suddenly no one laughs at their jokes anymore?” And then the other people feel obligated to tell you how hilarious you are, and, well, it’s all just a big mess as you see people tiptoeing around you and you feel like a big freak and you resolve to never attempt to joke about anything ever again.

Unlike, say, the Tomatoettes, aka my group of gardening friends that I do the tomato thing with, for years now. Last year I missed our annual tomato tasting since it was the same weekend as my surgeries, so we decided to have another gathering that winter, to theoretically swap seeds but basically to hang out, eat, and drink cocktails. And that was the first time I had seen most of the girls since the whole cancer shit started. Of course, the first few seconds were filled with the typical comments – “How ARE you? How are you feeling these days?” – interspersed with awkward silence. Which just wouldn’t do. Luckily, at that moment a typical smartass comment chose to go flying out of my mouth – what it was exactly, I don’t recall, but it might have been something about how I was taking up smoking and drinking, since being healthy hadn’t gotten me anywhere. And after a split-second of shocked silence, everything was back to normal, as they deftly started giving me suggestions on what else I could do to fuel my new cancer-laden lifestyle.

And that, THAT is how it should be done.

And no, cancer isn’t funny – it’s a mean, hateful, slime-sucking bastard with no humor to it whatsoever. But those of us who have it? Yeah, we’d like to think that we’re still kind of amusing. So humor us – and don’t act weird and different. Because if you do, well, I for one will have no compunction about taking advantage of the situation: “Boy, it sure would be nice if someone bought the Person with Cancer a drink. (Heavy sigh.) Who knows how many drinks I have left in my future?”

Okay, I’ll probably try that anyway – but it would be a hell of a lot more entertaining if you called me on it – but then bought me a drink anyway…..


D said...

You're STILL talking about cancer? Geeeeeeeeeeeez. Get over it already.

Molly said...

My drug-addict sister scammed free room and board and thousands of $$s from total strangers who she told that our mother was dying of breast cancer, I shit you not. You, with your real cancer and all, ought to get a lot more out of people, certainly including free hockey tickets! ;p

t-odd said...

WTF! Be the fucking cure already!