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Marx moments

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For the first time since I started doing these blogs last January, this one has nothing to do with woodworking. Instead, a recent event has reminded me of a perfect Marx Brothers moment.

What's a Marx Brothers moment? Same thing as a Three Stooges moment, a Martin & Lewis moment or even a Bruce Willis "Moonlighting" moment. It's when you get a perfect straight line or a perfect setup to do something in return that will make the audience laugh. On the screen these moments happen all the time; in Real Life, though, they happen about as rarely as finding a straight 2x4 at a big-box store. (Hey, I sneaked woodworking in.)

A perfect example is a gag that was done more than once in the Marx Brothers' movies. A character comes into the scene, and as he introduces himself to Harpo the character extends his arm to shake hands. Harpo moves forward and puts his leg into the character's outstretched hand, leaving him holding Harpo's leg in the air. Yeah, it's stupid, ridiculous and juvenile – and funny as can be.

What reminds me of all this is a happy event that occurred this week. Luke, my daughter's boyfriend of five years, finally asked her to marry him and I couldn't help but recall when I first met him. Courtney and Luke had been dating for a while, and one night she invited him over to meet us. They were already there with my wife Sally when I got home from work. It was winter, so as soon as I was in the door I was shucking off my heavy coat. Luke had simultaneously risen from the couch and approached to shake hands. My arms were still entwined in the coat as he stood there, and as soon as I got it off I reached out, draped my coat over his outstretched hand, muttered "thanks," and headed to the refrigerator for a beer.

The timing was perfect. Harpo would have been proud. Of course, I was the only one who thought it was funny. Courtney's mouth dropped open; Luke was terrified; Sally didn't get it. I of course came back in chuckling, took the coat and shook his hand properly, but I found out from Courtney later that Luke was afraid of me for months afterward. He got over that, of course, and we became good friends. Now he's becoming a son-in-law.

Luke's not a woodworker, but once he's part of the family maybe I can change that. If not, then I can at least introduce him to some old Marx Brothers movies.

Till next time,


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