Last Friday evening, Robert and I were sitting at our dining table drawing heights in triangles. I was fidgeting with my pencil, when Robert bent his head down and moved it forward wanting to take a closer look at the vertex and the base of a triangle. The tip of my pencil touched the top of his head and scratched him. Robert felt pain. He shook his head and, for a second, closed his eyes. When I tried to comfort him, Robert dropped his pencil, picked up mine, and replayed what had just happened. He placed the pencil’s lead on top of his head and shifted it to one side. That did not feel right. Robert put the pencil away, hesitated for a fraction of a second, picked the pencil again and used it the way pencils should be used: begun writing on the top of his head.
Something was still wrong. Robert put the pencil away, looked at me inquisitively, and did precisely what one was supposed to do with an unwanted and impossible to decipher scribbles written in the wrong place. He grabbed the eraser and energetically wiped the writing off his scalp and hair.
That should have been the end of this story if I wrote it as a joke for Reader’s Digest . But that was not the end of the story of Robert.
I giggled. Surprised, Robert looked at me trying to understand why instead of feeling sorry for him I laughed at him. He put down the eraser, took it again, returned to wiping invisible words, and… smiled.
He seemed to be telling me, “There is something funny going on. I share your amusement but I am not sure exactly why.”
He picked the eraser again. As he was wiping off “doodles” from his head, he burst in laughter.
He got it!
He not only KNEW that he did something hilarious, he FELT it.