Gallivant Cheerfully

September 6, 2012

As a kid I’d sometimes hear Dad talk about “gallivanting around,” particularly if he or we had been traveling. As words go, “gallivant” is pretty new, only a couple hundred years old, and I never had to spell it in school. But while Margi and I have been gallivanting around this summer, I’ve come to like the word more all the time. One definition is “to roam without plan,” what we call “moose hunting.” Others include to “wander,” “ramble,” or “meander,” I suppose including, “Let’s see where this road goes.”

Whether meandering or pushing to get somewhere, you can avoid road rage and get lots of laughs if you go in the spirit of fun. People-watching can be fun, of course, but I’ll make this blog entry a sign post. Notice the signs everywhere, fun ones, odd ones, the do-they-know-what-they’ve-done ones. Except for the vast stretches where there are no signs and no people, signs can make you laugh.

Back in the century when I was growing up, Burma-Shave, a brushless shaving cream company, would space five or six small signs along the road with a poem spread out, line at a time. They were fun to see. Some served the product very directly:

“To kiss
A mug
That’s like a cactus
Takes more nerve
Than it does practice.

“The whale
Put Jonah
Down the hatch
But coughed him up
Because he scratched.

Some urged driving safely:
“Train approaching
Whistle squealing
Avoid that run-down feeling.

Those disappeared in the late 1950s, I think, but fun signs persist. On our way to John Day Fossil Beds, Sheeprock Unit, we passed through Dayville, Oregon. The sign that welcomed travelers to town had a few human figures on it with the comment, “Our fossils are friendly.” The retired guy who served us at the local café told us it was about Dayville’s older people.

My wife and daughter both laughed at a seasonal sign at our local hardware store. “Your wife is hot. Get her an air conditioner here.” (I hope their laughter gives me cover on this.)

I find that some signs, not intentionally funny, just amuse me, which sometimes puzzles others. Starvation Ridge Road (near Burns, Oregon) made me wonder and smile, particularly having recently driven past Chicken Dinner Road (near Homedale, Idaho). The street Paradise Alley, tucked near the base of the Three Sisters mountains, made me smile, too, maybe for understatement.

Travels in Indiana took me over Nameless Creek and past billboards announcing the birthplace of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Since then, my brother Mauri and I have toyed with putting up a billboard near the hospital where we were born. Who knows? It might be a great tourist attraction and we could sell music, books, and T-shirts and key chains with our pictures on them. His stuff might also be a hit in St. Maurice, Indiana, a place he’s never told me about, though I saw the road sign.

I’m not a sign-savant; you can do this, too. Gallivant cheerfully and enjoy the signs of the times.


Living in Fun

"Walking Cheerfully" is place to think out loud about how to use and enjoy humor in positive, life-giving ways. We’ll explore how following Christ in all of life can shape, not scuttle, laughter and creative play. What might it mean to laugh with others as you would have them laugh with you?

Probably the other most common posts will be "Finds in Fun." I first learned the phrase “being in fun” from Tom Mullen’s Laughing Out Loud and Other Religious Experiences. He points to the playfulness of children, who are readier to laugh and to see the silly than most adults. Living each day “in fun” often makes us laugh as we slog through a nearly endless supply of things odd, silly, klutzy, and preposterous. The stories here are mostly from my own ordinary, “in fun” days.

Fun Nooks and Crannies

There’s “Humor in the Bible,” and these posts explore where it is, how to find it, and what to do with it. It’s one way of thinking about how to read the Bible well.

Since a lot of us spend big chunks of time at work, the “Humor at Work” posts will suggest ways to stay sane and happy, to get along with cow-orkers, and to use humor to do good work.

I’m a book-pusher at heart, and some of my best friends push books, too. I even know some folks who read. So “Fun Books” posts will tell about books that are funny and help us think about humor.

Sometimes I’ll brag on some of the friends I’ve been given or share some photos I’ve enjoyed taking. Maybe you’ll laugh, maybe not, but they’ve brought joy in my journey.

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