David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 3 — Parties, People with Handicaps, Problem-Solving

Parties

• Balanchine ballerina Allegra Kent planned a party, but before it started she discovered that the caviar she had purchased was mysteriously disappearing. She solved the mystery when she discovered that Trista, her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and Jennifer, Trista’s three-year-old cousin, had learned that they liked caviar. When no one was looking, they would go to the refrigerator, get a spoonful of caviar, then run to the bathroom and eat it.

• In 1995, Sarah Michelle Gellar missed her prom because she was busy attending the Daytime Emmy Awards, for which she was nominated as Outstanding Younger Leading Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Kendall (the daughter of the character played by Susan Lucci) on All My Children. However, when she attended the after-prom party, she took her new Emmy award with her.

People with Handicaps

• Alice Trillin worked at the Hole in the Wall Camp for children with handicaps, where she made friends with a little girl who had two major genetic diseases that made it difficult for her to grow bigger and to digest food — she was fed at night through a tube. Despite these handicaps, Alice called the little girl “the most optimistic, most enthusiastic, most hopeful human being” she had “ever encountered.” During a game of duck-duck-goose, when the little girl took her turn being chased around the children’s circle, she needed someone to hold her mail, so she asked Alice to do it. Because of the little girl’s handicaps, it took her a long time to go around the circle and Alice noticed that the top letter was from the little girl’s parents. Wondering how the parents could have produced such a wonderful little girl, Alice peeked at the letter and saw this: “If God had given us all of the children in the world to choose from, we would only have chosen you.” Alice showed the letter to her husband, telling him, “Quick. Read this. It’s the secret of life.”

• Jean Little, a young people’s author, was born with nystagmus, strabismus, eccentric pupils and corneal opacities — in other words, she had very bad eyesight. Because of this, her parents thought that she was blind. One day, her mother, a pediatrician, was examining a small child who reached for her stethoscope. She felt sad because little Jean had never reached for anything. However, Jean’s parents noticed that she always moved to face the window when she was in bed, no matter how they placed her in the bed, so they realized that she could distinguish light from darkness. Finally, one day when her mother was feeding her, little Jean reached for a spoon, and her mother was so happy that she cried.

Problem-Solving

• In Houston, Texas, problems sometimes arose between Anglo members of the police force and Hispanic members of the community. To help solve the problems, educator Guadalupe Quintanilla and two other people started the Cross Cultural Communication Program. In the program, Anglo police officers learn several words and phrases in Street Spanish, and they learn about differences between Anglo and Hispanic cultures. For example, one problem the Anglo police officers said they faced was that Hispanics would lie to them about their names. Ms. Quintanilla quickly identified the source of the problem. Hispanics often put their surname (the family name; not the given name or mother’s maiden name) in the middle and their mother’s maiden name last. When police officers would ask for a male suspect’s last name, the suspect would tell them his mother’s maiden name, which to the suspect is his last name. The police officers would find out that the name given was not the suspect’s surname, and they thought the suspect had lied to them. By the way, Spanish-speaking children sometimes serve as tutors in the program, so that the police officers can learn how Spanish words sound when spoken by different voices. Once, some children tutoring the police officers wrote this sentence on the board to teach them some Spanish vowels: “El burro sabe más que tú.” When the police officers figured out the meaning of the sentence, they thought it was funny: “The donkey knows more than you.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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