Dying is easy. Comedy is hard. So true. But comedy is something that can be learned, apparently.
While we were in Miami on vacation visiting family, Violet talked a lot about butts.
“I’m going to put my butt in your face,” for example, or the even less savory, “I’m going to cut off your butt.” Then she would use it simply to replace other words, as in “Let’s decorate the cookies with butts,” or “I’m going swimming in my butt suit.”
Hilarious, right? To a 4-year old, yes! To us, not so much. In fact, all that talk about butts got kind of gross and after a while we were all trying to discourage her from using the word.
But there is a long tradition on both sides of her family with word play and inside jokes. Richard and I create new vocabulary together all the time. When Violet was a baby and would squirm out of her swaddling blanket, we used to call her Houdini, then when she pooped, it became poo-dini, and eventually everything just got a -dini added to it. When she first stood up we called it a ‘standini,’ the dog became ‘Jack-dini’ – frankly, the ‘dini’ has enriched our lives. And without the constant banter of word repetition and experimentation, we would never have discovered it.
So when my very well-educated brother in law pointed out that Violet’s use of ‘butt’ was actually becoming quite sophisticated, I was prepared to agree. It reminded me of the incredibly useful word ‘fuck’ and all the pieces written about how it serves as almost every part of speech imaginable.
Then on a group walk to the park, we started singing Frosty the Snowman. Valerie and I easily sang the first verse about the corn-cob pipe and the button nose etc., but then we couldn’t remember the second verse for the life of us. We started riffing about what it might be, and suddenly clear as a bell Violet piped in with a simple, “Frosty the Buttman.”
We all burst out laughing. There was something just so damn funny about that line, and her flat delivery. All at once it put the whole search for Christmas carol lyrics into perspective and gave us an unexpected jolt of comic relief. She had finally hit paydirt with her non-stop persistent use of the word butt!
I was so proud. And she learned a valuable lesson. ‘Frosty the Buttman’ instantly became part of the family lexicon, and we quoted her again and again, enjoying the laugh with a fresh spin each time. She made a whole group of adults laugh. And, ask any comedian – that’s not so easy to do.
Here she is, putting the ‘butt’ in butterfly house at the Fairchild Botanical Gardens in Miami, with Joyce, Valerie, and her champion, Uncle Walker.