I was first introduced to the comedy of George Carlin at an early age – perhaps too early an age to be exposed to his brand of humor. It can all be blamed on my brothers who preceded me by several years and were privy to all the cool stuff you can share with a little sister. I suppose my education in linguistics from Mr. Carlin can be blamed for the fact that I was the most foul-mouthed ten-year-old girl of all time, but to my credit I only used such language when I was really mad – Incredible Hulk mad. To the horror of the parents and teachers of my elementary school I got that mad once during my early years, and let out a slew of obscenities with such fury that not even the threat of a world without puppies or chocolate could stop me.
I didn’t have the opportunity to see Carlin in concert until I was in my twenties, a more acceptable age. It was a time in my life when things were quite bad – I had just gotten out of the hospital after one of the worst lupus flare-ups I’d ever had, a flare-up I attributed to the massive grief I experienced after the sudden death of two friends nearly a year earlier. It had been a long time since I had anything to laugh about. My mother had come to Nashville to take care of me during my two-month recovery, and while I wasn’t quite up to going out that often, she did encourage me when I was excited to find that George Carlin would be performing at the Tennessee Performance Arts Center and agreed to take me.
One thing you have to know about my mother is that she is a woman of incredible grace and decorum who was forced into a life with two crude sons, an even cruder husband, and a daughter who learned more from the men in her life than from her sole female role model. My mother did everything she could to lady-fy me to no avail, but she gave it a good run. Obviously, she isn’t the type of person who would willingly go to a George Carlin performance, but she knew I needed it, and so we went. And I laughed. I laughed like I had never laughed before. I laughed so hard at some things it actually embarrassed my mother, although I did catch her laughing once or twice. It was exactly what I needed.
Thank you George. My memories of you will always keep me laughing, especially when times are rough.