David Bruce: the Funniest People in Families — Illness, In-Laws, Language


• While researching a book on children surviving cancer, Erma Bombeck was impressed by the way a three-year-old boy faced life. The boy told her, “You know what? I’m going to the circus!” — but a camp counselor reminded the boy that he wasn’t going to the circus, but he was going swimming instead. The boy then turned to Ms. Bombeck and said, “You know what? I’m going swimming!” Ms. Bombeck wrote later, “It didn’t matter, he would have gone to the opening of a bottle of aspirin. And it made me think — little things, little moments. Go for them.”

• Albert III, Al Gore’s six-year-old son, was hit by a car in 1989 and thrown for several feet, breaking some of his bones and crushing some of his internal organs. He was rushed to a hospital, and when he regained consciousness, he told his parents, “I can’t get well without you.” They stayed with him throughout his three-week hospital stay, and when they took him home in a full-body cast, they put a bed for him in the dining room and took turns sleeping on a mattress placed on the floor by his bed until he recovered.

• Many people fear AIDS. Carmine Buete was a 10-year-old boy suffering from AIDS who lived with his grandmother near New Year City. After some of the friends of his grandmother discovered that he had AIDS, they refused to talk to her anymore. Because of that experience, Carmine and his grandmother soon learned not to tell many people that he had AIDS. Before he died, one of Carmine’s favorite toys was an E.T. doll that made him feel better when he was ill.

• Teddy Kennedy, Jr., the senator’s son, lost a leg to cancer in 1973. He used humor to deal with his prosthesis (artificial limb). While he was riding on the back of a friend’s bicycle, they crashed, and young Ted’s foot became twisted around backwards. No problem. He simply twisted his foot around so it was facing the right way, then he walked away. The people watching him — who didn’t know he was wearing a prosthesis — were shocked.


• Mark Twain married a woman from a wealthy family. Arriving in Buffalo, New York, Mr. and Mrs. Twain were driven to a fancy house, where his new wife told Mr. Twain that the fancy house was a gift to them from her father. Mr. Twain shook hands with his father-in-law and said, “If you ever come to Buffalo, bring your grip [suitcase] and stay all night — it won’t cost you a cent.”

• A 1993 TV commercial for a Norwegian airline showed a man stripping until he was wearing nothing but his socks, then bursting through a doorway to surprise his wife. Unfortunately, her parents are with her — and they know don’t where to look. The title card for the commercial says, “Warning: we’re flying in your in-laws at half-price.”

• Irish ballad writer Jimmy Hiney is a small man. When he was first introduced to his mother-in-law, she told her daughter, “Well, by God, if you get nothing else from him, you’ll always get a laugh.”


• As the writer of most episodes of The Twilight Zone, host Rod Serling displayed a love of language, a love that he exhibited even as a child. When he was six years old, his family took a two-and-a-half-hour car trip from Binghamton, New York, to Syracuse, New York. Before the trip, his parents agreed that they would not speak until young Rod had stopped talking. However, they never got a chance to speak during the trip because Rod never stopped talking!

• After being divorced from his father, Zack’s mother, Aimee, discovered that she was in love with another woman, Margie, and they moved in together. Zack occasionally hears other people use words such as “fag” and “dyke,” but his mother tells him, “The problem is not with us. It’s with them. We’re in a family where everybody loves each other, and that’s what matters.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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