Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Avoiding misunderstandings

My family has a tradition of giving two greeting cards for every occasion.

To avoid misunderstandings.

Several years ago I sent my brother a card congratulating him on becoming president of a major company.

To me, anyway, it was funny.

First, I must explain.

He and I had a long, exciting tradition of sending one another humorous to knee-slapping hilarious cards. We always looked forward to receiving the *perfect* card that would send us ROTFLOAO!

Then came an episode of familia interruptus (not speaking, any of us), brought about by ... misunderstandings, due to a failure to communicate clearly.

This dispute was resolved before I sent my intended-to-be funny, soon-to-be infamous card.

It went something like this: The front of the card said, "Congratulations! I'm sure everyone in the company - including your competition - is thrilled with your promotion!"

Open it, and across both sides of the card it shows a white-shirted corporate guy laying face down on his big desk with this huge knife in his back.

In the old days mon frere would have doubled over laughing, tears flowing, farts tooting.

But .. after our initial reconcilliation, my congratulatory card was evidence of much work still left to be done to heal the family communications chasm. His former sense of humor was MIA.

My mom called to say He. Did. Not. Find. It. Funny.

In fact, he felt it was disrespectful.

Um, ouch.

OK, I can see where some people might see it that way, and I realized things had, indeed, changed. Or at least he had and I hadn't and maybe I should.

I apologized profusely, begged for forgiveness and sent him a hand written message of genuine congratulations, how he deserved it (he did!), yanga yanga yanga.

It would be awhile after that faux pas before I would send him another "brother - humorous" card.

Then I remembered another incident that occured years before the family furor when my bro encountered the same problem with my dad. He sent dad a "funny" card that daddy-o did not consider laughable, but was instead insulted. Or hurt. Or both.


A couple months after my screwup and groveling apology, I sent my bro another serious card for another occasion.

Then, wouldn't you know it, I found a really hilarious card for him that I couldn't refuse. I bought it, addressed it and put the stamp on it.

I wondered: send? Don't send. Send. Don't send. Send. Don't. Send. Don't..... Send?

I took a chance and dropped it in the mail box, hoping by now he might be able to enjoy it - especially since he already received my sincerely thoughtful message.

In fact -- he did enjoy it! Mercifully, he let me know right away!

Haha! Hoho! HURRAH! He was laughing!

At last we retrieved our mutual sense of humor! From the ashes rose the phunniex!

Thus spawned the family tradition of sending two cards for every holiday, occasion and opportunity.

To be *very* clear, my mother writes on the back of each dispatch, "This is the serious card." And, "This is the funny card."

I decided to do the very same -- just, you know, to avoid any misunderstanding.

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