I read 4 or 5 blogs every day, and another batch of them I read weekly. A few of them are newsy, but most of them are more like mine, just people writing about the little stuff that goes on in their lives.
Last week, one of my bloggers posted a youtube clip from the Dr. Phil show of Sandy Patti singing Ain't No Mountain High Enough while a girl with Down's Syndrome did ASL interpretation. I didn't notice that the girl was retarded until halfway through the clip (the camera mostly avoided her), but I was having a good laugh at Sandy Patti, the big white lady pouring her heart and soul into the Motown tune. Sandy Patti is like a blonder, less famous Kathie Lee Gifford, and just as ludicrous.
When I finally did notice the girl, it became suddenly exponentially more bizarre and hilarious. I cracked up at the insanity of this woman who had decided that the best way to convey her message would be to sing this song and have a retarded girl do ASL with her, and that it was working because this room full of people was obviously deeply affected by it. What a world.
I sent the clip to J and another friend who I was sure would find it as absurd and funny as I did. Both of them replied saying, basically, "I don't think this is funny." In an instant I changed from the sophisticated artist with a dark sense of humor to the cruel oaf laughing at the retarded girl, and I was mortified. (Neither of my friends reprimanded me. This anxiety was of my own creation.) I know I wasn't laughing at the retarded girl, but, for some very frustrating reason, it was more important to me to know that my friends know that. And of course there's no explaining it. ("I wasn't laughing at her, I was laughing with her." How ridiculous.) And really, even though I wasn't laughing at the retarded girl, I was laughing at the fat white lady, who, after all, was just doing her best to bring joy into the world.
There may be a lesson bigger than the size of my head in this, something like, "A dark sense of humor is fine until you hurt somebody." But mainly what I've learned (for the ten billionth time) is that despite the fact that I try to chip away at it every day, my ego is still as big as Mt. Everest.
Last night over dinner, J told me something that might serve as exculpatory evidence: On the youtube site -- when I forwarded the URL to my friends, it took them to youtube, not to the blog where I found the clip -- it's titled "Sandy Patti Butchers the Hits with a Retard." On the blog where I watched it, there was no title. I never would have laughed if I'd seen that title. You know that, don't you?