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Pain in the derriere

I’m offering you unbridled access to a conversation my husband and I had in the recent past. I referenced it in a previous column, but it’s a tale worth re-telling. As I am often do — I have embellished.

Sharon: “My column is due to my editor in about 20 minutes (a slight exaggeration), and I have no idea what to write about.”

Howard: (my husband — who was having no pain at the time but thinking he might at some point) said, “Why don’t you write about pain?”

Sharon: “I’m looking for a topic that’s uplifting and on the humorous side — and pain is not funny.”

Howard: “You could write about people who are a pain in the derriere” (only he did not say “derriere”). He looked directly at me when he said that.

For those of you who do not use that word, derriere is “a euphemistic term for a person’s buttocks.” Synonyms are “behind, backside, bottom, rear, hindquarter … etc. There’s one synonym that’s particularly compelling and I may start using it regularly. The word is “sitzfleisch,” as in “The bedspring tattooed waffles all over my sitzfleisch.”

You may be asking yourself: “Where the heck is she going with this?” Only maybe you’re not using the word “heck.” Here’s a story — and I will try to make it uplifting.

Pain often is an unwelcome companion for many older Americans. There is physical pain, of course. As illustration, “My knees are speaking to me today, and it’s not a good conversation.” Or it might be psychic pain, “All this divisive political rhetoric gives me a blankety-blank headache.” Cue feelings of visible angst, and expect a little profanity with both examples.

As we age, the “the wear and tear theory” of aging means we are more likely to grimace and twitch as we get out of bed in the morning or try to gracefully lower our derriere to a comfortable sitting position in a too-hard, too-low chair.

On the psychic pain front, as we age, we can become less tolerant of individuals and situations in which people “should know better” as my father used to say. Pain in either form can make you angry, depressed, cranky and self-absorbed. And it can have that same effect on the people around you. Not good.

Let’s make a pledge. Let’s use more humor to neutralize the pain we may experience. Let’s promise each other that humor will become a bigger part of our life plan. It means we seek more lighthearted banter and recognize the power of the comic strip. Let’s promise to chortle, chuckle, giggle, twitter and even howl with laughter daily — or at least try.

Are you game? It might take a little practice. The process of trying to laugh can be funny in and of itself. When you try to laugh, do you “twitter” (which sounds like “beep, peep, chirp”) or snort and hiccup? Do you use hand gestures?

Truth be told, I flap both arms when I laugh really hard. It’s the ultimate distraction from anything painful. It’s also could also be considered a form of exercise. See how this works?

Sharon Johnson is retired health educator. Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com