Sometimes FD will be looking over my shoulder while I'm writing and say, "What's that got to do with mental illness?"
I shoo him away, whispering under my breath, "If I had to answer every question you ever asked me, our marriage wouldn't be very much fun, would it?"
But the answer, obviously, is that sometimes mental health bloggers just write about mental health, not mental illness. It's not that we're life coaches, not at all, but there can be differences between happy families and sad families, and as I've probably said a thousand times, Happy is Better.
I can't recommend his books, since I've never read them, but Art Linkletter wrote many probably funny books and he hosted a few television shows, too. The television show that I remember, People Are Funny, had a catchy jingle to that effect, one that's hard for me to forget to this day.
Mr. Linkletter symbolized to me, everything good about life. He could find humor in everything and it is clear that it was the humor in everything that made life for him.
Ours was a sexist and ridiculously romantic era, that relatively prosperous post World War II decade. You needed insulin to watch television, seriously, so we appreciated anything that smacked of more than a dash of irony. His interviews with children, Kids Say the Darndest Things, might have been scripted, meaning Mr. Linkletter may have told those kids what to say, but they're classics, and it's true. Kids do say the darnedest things.
In healthy families, it is the children who make us laugh the hardest. It's their sincerity, how they can say the funniest things straight-faced, that cracks us up.
Here's Bill Cosby introducing Art's show on YouTube. You don't have to look right now. I'm going to tell a quick story.
But before I do, just so you shouldn't think that all Hollywood television celebrities are born with connections and silver spoons, here's what nndb.com tells us about Mr. Linkletter:
Art Linkletter was abandoned as an infant, adopted and raised by a preacher. He first showed his entrepreneurial spirit by sorting through discarded lemons at a local fruit-packing plant, picking the least-obviously rotten fruit, and selling it door-to-door. He hosted House Party and People Are Funny both on radio and later on newfangled television, and is best remembered for his interviews with children, Kids Say the Darndest Things.Well, we all know that it's true. Nobody can make us laugh harder than a very young short person speaking sincerely, telling us things that are obviously true, and often ridiculous. When they're parroting what they've been told, they're especially funny.
FD borrowed a slide projector and wanted to return it right away. But the person who lent it too him was asleep when he dropped by later that evening; the house was dark. So he waited until the next morning to try again.
Again, the house was dark. He knocked softly. No answer. Fine, he thinks, there's a storm coming, the skies are dark. They're sleeping. They have little kids. A person takes advantage of dark mornings like these if he has little kids, catches a couple of well-needed extra minutes of sleep.
FD starts to walk away, then he hears a noise. He turns to see a small figure peeping through the screendoor. A little kid, about three feet tall, is standing at the door, puzzled. FD takes the stairs to the porch once again, projector in hand.
The small voice. "Why are you knocking?"
"Are you the only one up?" he asks.
"What do you want?" the little guy answers.
"I have something for your Daddy."
Resolute. "Daddy's sleeping. Don't wake him up!"
Mr. Linkletter would have loved it.