I use a simple test to see if I want to spend time with a certain person. It’s totally non-scientific but has been remarkably accurate as a precursor to friendship. After I’ve talked to him or her a couple of times, I start observing whether they ever use the word “fun”. “Yes” means my kind of folks. “No”, and I wonder whether we’d enjoy hanging out together down the road.
Here’s a delightful story about the Dalai Lama. I might just mosey over to Tim Hortons with him for an herbal tea, if the opportunity ever presented itself.
My friend Sid once placed a Groucho Marx mask in a hotel room where the Dalai Lama would be staying during a visit to an Ivy League university. It was a gesture of karmic abandon because, really, who could gauge the terrestrial and spiritual consequences of such an act?
So imagine this: a cascade of university bureaucrats arrayed in the Dalai Lama’s suite, waiting for their guest to appear. They sit erect in armchairs designed for slouching.
Minutes pass and then a door flings open. Unaccountably, Groucho Marx – wearing long, maroon robes and serious lace-up shoes – emerges, chuckling loudly, laughing so hard that tears come to his bespectacled eyes.
How do people react when a dignitary – especially of a spiritual kind – does something so, well, undignified? Intrigued, I call up the university official in charge of the visits of the accomplished and the famous and the presidential. She clearly is not a woman easily impressed. How did she feel, I asked, at the Groucho Moment? At first, she tells me, she didn’t know how to react. And then she and everyone started to laugh at the wonderful absurdity of the situation, laughed with a joy and incaution uncharacteristic of people in their position.
The Dalai Lama didn’t care about maintaining his image. He saw a chance for fun, for deflating others’ expectations, and he took it. And he just somehow knew whom to thank. Wagging his finger at Sid, he took off the mask, still laughing. Even His Holiness needs a little Groucho in his life.
I know a fellow who:
-joshes with the cashiers and customers at the supermarket
-heads to Costco at Hallowe’en in full costume
-wears silly t-shirts (such as the picture of a bone accompanied by “I found this humerus”)
-applauds as he watches a concert from his family room couch
-yells down the sewer on the playground at recess for a kid to “Come up here immediately!”
-has named his fantasy children Dollop, Puce, Inkling and Squirm
-dances in a rather odd way, with his feet flying out in all directions
The guy’s sort of weird, but I like him. He likes me too.