Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Humor in the Physical World

Tonight I closed a kitchen cabinet door after fetching and replacing a box of tea. For reasons inexplicable, the door would not close again.
Earlier in the evening, while preparing dinner, I’d been rummaging around in the cabinet, and I must have subtly rearranged the tightly packed contents. Now, each time I closed the door it popped open. I couldn’t readily see what was causing the problem, and because I was in a hurry, I just kept trying to close the door. No luck. Each time I closed it, it just popped open.

So, still in a hurry and unwilling to devote much attention to this problem, I hastily reshuffled a few items at the front of the cabinet, closed the door, and turned away. For a moment, things seemed fine, but after what felt like a five- or six-second pause, I heard the click of the latch. Turning quickly, I watched as the cabinet door slowly swung open again.

It felt like I was in a movie or a comedy sketch where a haunted house is bent on tormenting the main character. It was just a moment in the physical world, where objects do what comes natural to them, but because I am a human being with a certain history, it made me laugh. The delayed opening of the door after several previous failed attempts seemed deliberately designed to frustrate me. As if I was experiencing something more than just Newtonian objects in space. So I laughed. No one was there to share my enjoyment, but I took pleasure in the moment nonetheless.

No comments: