I'm so fortunate to have a brother-in-law with that particularly "cuban" sense of humor. He sees the funny side of life in every opportunity, and having him come over to Malaysia to support me at the hospital and help bring me home was the best thing I could have hoped for - even the surgeon Dr. Yong remarked how I seemed to perk up and start to regain my sense of humor once Alex arrived in Ricky Ricardo-style with his contagious enthusiasm.
Taking one look at my surroundings in the modern and well-appointed Prince's Court Medical Center in Kuala Lumpur, he immediately said "Mano, this is nicer than my place in Miami!" and asked the head nurse on my ward: "Hey, what do I have to do to get to stay here, too?" Without batting an eye she shot back: "Well, we offer plenty of plastic surgery options." "But I'm a young guy, what am I going to do with plastic surgery?" Alex asked. Peering closely at him, she offered him two options: "I DO see some lines around your eyes we could clean up. Or, how about a tummy tuck?" "But I only had one beer last night!" Alex wailed.
Alex enjoyed Malaysia so much that he finally became convinced that I must be faking my accident in order to stay there and receive special care, and this became a running gag between us all week. "You know, making it look like an accident is an art, brother, and you are one of the finest practitioners I know."
After a few days at the hospital, Alex turned to me with a serious expression on his face and said: "Mano, I'm having such a good time here, do you think we could take a look at the map and talk about where you are planning on having your next accident?"
I told him I was getting too old for the job, and it was probably time for me to retire, but that he was a young guy and could take one, or fake one, for the team, next time!
Proving that you don't have to be born in Cuba to have that cuban joking sensibility, when I got home yesterday Diego as usual got into the act and had the last word in humor.
Fascinated with my crutches, wheelchair, ice-packs, boot and all the other paraphernalia of my injury, he tenderly and affectionately and in all sincerity said:
"Dad, can I break your other foot, too?"
According to an article about India's "Laughter Guru" in this week's The New Yorker, "true mirthful laughter can have a liberating, transformative effect - one that momentarily erases all practical concerns, fears, needs and even notions of time, and provides a glimpse into spiritual enlightenment."
Thanks to my family of Cuban jokesters, I wholeheartedly agree!