This article was originally published on BetterAfter50.com.
The other day I was in the car alone, listening to Morning Edition, or On Point with Tom Ashbrook, or This American Life with Ira Glass -- I listen to them all, and I can't remember now which one it was. But what I do remember is a calm, deep voice coming over the radio, saying this:
"support for this program comes from you, our listeners ... and from His Cock insurance."
And that is when I almost drove off Route 9. I couldn't stop laughing.
I had heard, in no uncertain terms, that "His cock insurance" was a sponsor of public radio. It was loud and clear. But a penis insurance company -- was there such a thing? And if there were, would they be advertising on NPR? It seemed highly improbable.
I turned up the volume, and listened closer. Maybe they were saying Hitchcock Insurance?
I closed all the windows, turned off all fans. No, it was definitely not Hitchcock. There was no question -- the man with the calmest voice in the world came on again, and asked me to go to hiscock.com to learn more. I cracked up some more. I could not wait to get home and check out hiscock.com.
When I finally googled what I heard -- "Hiscock insurance", I figured out that the NPR sponsor was not a penis insurance company, but the unfortunately named, Hiscox insurance. #canyousaydisappointed?
But what amazed me was how funny I still found this potty humor. I told friends, and I laughed. I told my husband, and I laughed. I laughed out loud numerous times by myself in the car. Despite a really shitty year and a half (or maybe because of it) -- mother dying, cancer diagnosis, mastectomy, husband's shoulder surgery, chemo, radiation -- I found humor in a silly cock joke. I might as well have been 6-years-old.
So does our sense of humor change as we get old?
We all know crabby, humorless, old people ... but did they age into that ... or were they once Debby Downers -- crabby, humorless young people?
There's this scientific study out there that says our sense of humor does age. According to the Atlantic Magazine, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Psychology and Aging seems to show that older people don't find the "aggressive style of humor" (think "The Office" or "Curb Your Enthusiasm") very funny (and since I find both of those shows hysterical, that must mean I am not old).
They are not sure exactly why, but It could be that older adults are accustomed to a gentler kind of wit (think "Golden Girls") or because as we age, the physical and emotional setbacks we experience change what we find funny.
But it also might just be that those old people they surveyed would not have found "The Office" or "Curb Your Enthusiasm" funny at any age. Perhaps, they just found a bunch of crabby old people to study.
Or maybe they didn't get the right young people for their study. Speaking from personal experience, women who are mothers very often lose their senses of humor from the time the first kid is born until the last kid goes off to college. Then they become like stand up comedians. The problem is that the responsibility of child rearing can suck the funny right out of you. Just ask my kids ... they'll tell you in no uncertain terms that their dad is the funny one (and he is definitely not).
I actually didn't know my mother had a sense of humor until she was in her 70s. A few months before my mother passed away, she made a really funny, sarcastic and biting remark. "Oh my God, mom, that was FUNNY! You made a FUNNY!" I exclaimed with glee, and I remember thinking, "when did she get so funny?" When I was growing up, my mother did not display a sense of humor.
My dad is another case in point. He never lost his incredible sense of humor, despite losing most of his wealth, and dealing with Parkinson's syndrome for 28 years.
So, I actually don't think that life's physical and emotional losses, from which none of us are immune by the time we get to be old, necessarily change your sense of humor. But what I know to be true, is that a sense of humor will get you through the toughest times in life. So I'm quite sure that it's one of the things we need to hold on to as we age.
And by the way ... His cock insurance ... I'm still laughing about it!
Tell me I was not the only one who heard this and thought it was hysterical...