It was likely 1971 in the family room of my Aunt and Uncle’s home at 506 Delaware Ave in Tonawanda, New York. I was gathered with my two brothers and my four cousins and in the center of the room was my brother Dickie laying on his back with his arms flat but his legs pulled above and over his head. My brother Mike began to laugh pretty hard while myself and my cousins shouted “The Blob”, … “Head Over Heels?… “Do something else…”. Meanwhile my brothers were both laughing quite hard by now and soon we were just all laughing right along with them as Dickie said “Give up?” and we all conceded quickly that more time was far less important than all our needs to know.
Dickie announced “I’m a fig”.
My brother Michael had been assigned the role of King Charade with the duty of assigning the role player something to act out. He had written on my brothers small torn piece of paper “A fig”. My brother Dickie was essentially assigned an unachievable task to use only your body to make someone guess “a fig”.
Come deeper with me into this moment in time and see how wonderful this simple story really was. It’s 1971 and for many of you that were alive then you may remember it as a country in a bit of turmoil. A very misunderstood war, riots, drugs, racial violence, assassinations…. Now let’s go into that family room. Myself 11, my brother Dickie 12, and my brother Mike 13 with our father deceased 8 years ago and our mother in the hospital dying a slow cancerous death. Joined in the room by our cousins who’s parents opened their home to us and without saying it presented their own kids a choice – share or be bitter. Outside the room but still very much a part of this new blended family were my Aunt and Uncle of course and two more older sisters of mine and a brother turning 18 and about to join the marines. A dozen people tossed together on one of life’s interesting journeys.
There was so many influences that could take a boy to a dark place but we had found an oasis in the form of humor at least for those moments. A place where my brother Mike’s creative brain wandered long enough to come up with “A fig” and my brother Dickie’s creative brain read that piece of paper and chose to react with humorous absurdity.
That moment in time was a great lesson in the power of humor. It demonstrated how humor can allow an innocent escape, provide much needed comfort, and bond tightly together the people that share it.
A fig. Go figure.