For instance, today my roommate Reija (a high school science teacher) had this as her gchat status:
Me (doing problems): Oh! There's a spider on my chalkboard! Kids: AAAAAAAAAHHHHH! Me (poking it with a pen): It's alive! Kids: AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! Me: Don't worry I'll just draw a circle around it and label it "spider". If it leaves the circle, the you can scream. (Three minutes later) Kids: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!My brother Peter, also friends with Reija via gchat, chatted me about it, saying this:
It is brilliant. It shines.And then, whammo, he added:
I keep trying to think of how we can turn it into a Reader's Digest joke, but I'm having trouble.It turns out, my parents--okay, mostly my mother--would and do often take advantage of family gatherings, even informal moments, to talk about ways we can make money, as a family or as individuals. "We're funny," someone says. And my mother pipes in: "You should write something for Reader's Digest." And someone usually adds, "We really should," shaking his/her head to show that yes, in fact, it's astonishing that, for whatever reason, our destiny with Reader's Digest has not yet been made.
This Reader's Digest moment arises, of course, because of the fine-print promise embedded in the front matter of the Reader's Digests that fossilize in our bathrooms and rest scattered from time immemorial throughout my grandparents' mountain cabin. The promise is something like this: Submit inane and mildly funny joke-meets-short-paragraph. Get paid $300. Lightning will strike.
To my family, this possibility that we could, with a minimum of effort and typing, cash in on the invariably small and funny moments of our life seemed/seems like the golden egg, the cash cow at the end of the rainbow, the promise of a new tomorrow. This is, after all, America.
That's it. That's the whole spiel. This is our original idea for making money, and it, despite its seeming out of sync with the times (doesn't Reader's Digest strike you as being anachronistic, even though it features hot commodities like Tina Fey?), it comes, it resurfaces, it haunts. You should know, though, that though we've done a lot of thinking about it (after Peter's comment, I'm realizing that my thinking times 9.5--one for each of my siblings, plus one for my mom, and .5 for my less-invested dad--is a lot of thinking), I don't think anyone in my family has ever submitted anything to Reader's Digest. Not to "Life in These United States," not to the general non-true joke column, certainly not to "Humor in Uniform. "
Yet, yet, faced with something true and short and funny (specifically, a pithy kind of funny), what does Peter do? He tries to turn it into a Reader's Digest bit--for the possibility of $300 and the satisfaction of fulfilling my family's long-held dream. Just a boy wanting to make his family, his mama, and America proud. Reader's Digest. America in your pocket.