Edward, the Funny One

Everyone knows that members of a family are assigned a role: Dad, the Always Late; Perfect Mom; Sister, the Nonstop Talker; Edward, the Funny One.

Edward the Funny didn’t have much to laugh about in his midthirties. He’d agreed to go to counseling with Zarah (Zarah the Virgo), but after four years of living together and two being married, she’d made the decision to move to Israel with her sister rather than stay in the marriage. Who could believe she’d tell Dr. Bitman that one of her primary concerns was that he resisted being serious? Though overstatement is unproductive, it was an eye-opener for Edward that she wasn’t amused and charmed by his clowning around. “Clowns are sad. That’s why everyone can relate to them, because they’re so clearly the opposite of what they appear to be. They’re painted on black velvet, crying,” she said.

Sitting at Starbucks after their most recent session with Bitman, Edward said to her, “Can you just explain to me, though, when everything I read says women value a sense of humor more than a man’s looks, or how he performs in bed . . . suddenly it’s not appreciated that I’m funny?”

“I thought once we got out of the context of your family, you’d evolve,” she said. She loved, loved to finish sentences with unexpected words. Evolve? Like a tadpole into a frog? Like monkeys into men (though much of the country did not believe in any such evolution)? What should he do, make a monkey of himself by mugging like one, spreading that insincere (as she’d called it) smile across his face, showing his recently professionally whitened teeth?

“Forget Dr. Bitman,” he said. “You love me, Zarah. I don’t care if you want to take time away from the marriage. Go to Israel, bond even closer to your sister. I’ll be your facilitator; I’ll even be the toothpick, mixing the epoxy. Not that you two aren’t close enough.”

“You’re bitter,” she said.

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