David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Illness, Letters, Mothers

Illness

• When he was a child growing up in Harlem, children’s book author Walter Dean Myers used to dance in the streets for money, which he used to buy his favorite red-colored icy pops. One day, after he had danced and eaten, danced and eaten, for hours, he went home with a stomachache. His mother set him on the toilet, then rushed him to the hospital after seeing the red liquid that had come out of his body. At the hospital, they learned that the red liquid was not blood — it was red-colored liquid from the many, many icy pops young Walter had consumed that day.

• When Alicia Alonso could not see out of her right eye, she went to a doctor. He examined her eyes, then told her that she was going to be blind. She would not believe him and had an unsuccessful operation. Shortly afterward, her other eye went blind. Again, she had an operation, and her doctors told her that she had to stay in bed — motionless — for a year. Alicia did not want her young daughter to know that she — Alicia — was blind, and for a year, whenever her daughter was brought into her room, Alicia pretended that she could see her through the bandages.

• Some happily married heterosexual men like to dress like women. One way to get the proper female frontal development is for the man to wear a mastectomy bra. Many wives have ordered a mastectomy bra and been treated so nicely by the sales staff over the telephone that they have been tempted to say, “Don’t worry. I don’t have breast cancer. My husband just likes to wear a bra.”

• When beautiful actress Ann Jillian got breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, she worried about what her husband, Andy Murcia, would think when he saw the scars where her breasts had been. She needn’t have worried. He looked, then said, “So, you’ve had a mastectomy and I’m still here.” He hugged her, then said, “I’m not only still here. I’m not going anywhere.”

Letters

• When Janet Taylor Lisle was a child, she thought that she detected evidence of fairies. For example, when she found berries dotting the terrace, she thought that fairies had left them. She believed so strongly that she started writing letters to the fairies — and the fairies wrote her back! Of course, a loved one actually wrote the letters, not fairies, but this remains a pleasant memory. This memory served as inspiration for her children’s book The Gold Dust Letters.

• Maurice Sendak’s picture book Where the Wild Things Are has long been a favorite of children, many of whom long to go to this land of fantasy. Mr. Sendak once received a letter from a boy who asked him how much it cost to travel to where the wild things are — if it wasn’t too expensive, he and his sister wanted to spend the summer there. Mr. Sendak says, “I did not answer that question, for I have no doubt that sooner or later they will find their way, free of charge.”

Mothers

• While running his dog sled team one day, using a wheeled cart instead of a sled because it was spring, children’s book author Gary Paulsen came across a dead ruffled grouse and a nest of her eggs. He took the 14 eggs home and put them in the nest of a banty hen named Hawk. This simple action may have been a mistake, as it brought down what his wife called a “summer of terror” on the Paulsen household. The eggs hatched, and Hawk devoted her life to protecting her chicks. However, ruffled grouse can fly much further than banty hens, which meant that Hawk had to patrol a wide area to protect the young grouse. Hawk therefore sat on top of a woodpile and whenever the grouse were threatened — or Hawk thought they were threatened — she charged down the woodpile and attacked whatever she thought needed attacking. A fox once grabbed a chick and Hawk slammed into the fox so hard that spit flew from the fox’s mouth as it let go of the chick. Unfortunately, Hawk attacked some things that didn’t need to be attacked — such as Mr. Paulsen’s wife, son, cat, and dog. On one occasion, his wife went to get some tomatoes from the garden, and when she returned, the tomatoes were smeared on her shirt — this despite the bicycle helmet she had worn for protection from the attack that she knew was coming. Smeared with tomatoes, she announced to her husband, “The Hawk strikes again.” After the ruffled grouse grew up, Hawk calmed down — but the Paulsen pets were still very careful when they were near her.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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