He’s Not Funny He is NOT funny

If you are new to this blog of the upcoming book Viking Funeral, celebrating the life of Dave Linane with booze, words, and fire, welcome.  The timeline above shows you where we are in the book. While each chapter can stand on its own if you wish to read from the beginning, click here.  More info is available, About Dave or the FAQ section explains the arc of the storyline. If you found me through a grief group, this page of my perspective of why we are all here in this place right now may be helpful. XO M

As previously described in a manner that still probably has not and will not do it, justice is the fact that people were so frequently at my parents’ door, stopping by to visit Dave. For those who did not have a key, that meant someone had to answer the door. That someone was using me.

There was a knock at the door on a Saturday afternoon. I was home and obligingly answered it like ya do. On the porch was a man, seemed friendly enough. He smiled a big smile and asked in what I could only interpret at the time, was his best comedic delivery, “Hi, is Dave LYING around the house?”

If it isn’t obvious by now, then I am the worst biograph-moir ever, that Dave had a pretty amazing sense of humor. He loved teasing and was good-natured about being teased. He made fun of himself, identifying or referring to himself as a “gimp” or “gimpy.” Whatever in the world that was supposed to mean, I never figured out, but I assumed it was his personal description of being physically messed up. [I just looked it up, and it is actually a thing, an urban dictionary thing that, in fact, describes, in short, a person who is physically OR mentally messed up.] Clearly, he could take a joke.

What is that familiar trait called where I can make fun of my family member, but YOU can’t make fun of that same family member in response to my comments or in my presence? Ya, well, THAT basic instinct kicked in as I stood there, visibly annoyed, looking flatly at this guy who was in my opinion trying so desperately to be funny.

I had NO idea who this guy was but he was acting as though he knew me. He obviously knew Dave, but in all the faces and people who had been in our house, this guy simply was not registering anything with me. He also didn’t have a key, which also denoted data about his place in the ranking of the people who knew Dave well enough to have a key.

He asked again, laughing awkwardly, “Ha-ha-ha-ha…” speaking louder this time, “Are you SURE Dave is not LYING, A-ROUND THE HOUSE?” He stood there awkwardly chuckling as he placed emphasis on LYING…I gave him nothing. So much more awkwardness ensued as I stood there silent. WHADDA jerk. I was thinking. I imagine I looked like Tuesday* from the Addams’ family, looking at him with such disdain and disregard before I decided he had stood there without a response from me long enough that I finally commented, “No. Dave is NOT… LYING… A-ROUND… THE…HOUSE.” I offered nothing further, and another moment of silence hung in the air between us, painfully so, for him.

He tried to be funny just ONE MORE TIME with an, “OK, well if he ISN’T LY-ING A-ROUNNNNNND THE HOUSE, just tell him David Zamora stopped by.” I responded with an “Ohhhhhh. KAAAAY. I will be sure to do that.” And I closed the door, visibly annoyed. Our door was predominantly glass and always closed very loudly- so I am sure it sounded awful from his side of the door combined with my cold and long drawn out “Ok.” None of the interaction was polite of me, and may very well be the rudest I have ever been to someone at our door, wait no, I can think of another guy, but he deserved it, but, honestly, don’t make fun of people to their family members, especially if you don’t know them. It is some sort of unwritten natural law somewhere. We all know that, don’t we?

Later, when Dave had returned home and been put back in bed for the night, I went into his room to deliver the rude, awkward message from the weirdo with zero comedic presence who stopped by earlier in the day.  I started by asking, “Who in THEE hell is David Zamora anyway?” Dave explained that the two had met in Junior High and that David had just always been around. I asked, “Always around? Why have I NEVER seen him before today if he has always been around?” I was almost 30 at that point. Dave shrugged and could tell something was brewing behind my question and asked, “Why?” I told him how David Zamaro had awkwardly stood on our porch asking if ‘Dave was LYING AROUND the house?’ repeatedly, louder as if by adding volume, it would be funnier or I would get it. I presented what had been my best Tuesday* Addams unmoved non-emotive face and body posture as I told Dave all about it and added “Like, I am NOT stupid, buddy. I GET jokes. But he simply was NOT funny.”

Dave began laughing his barking seal of a laugh-hard, much harder than I expected. He took a breath of recovery in, then continued to laugh as he visualized the scene unfold on our porch. I must be a very good story teller-because he was really cracking up. He said in between catching his breath, “Now, THAT is funny!!” He was laughing more at MY response to David than to David. Regardless I ignored his acknowledgment of my hilarious torture of David Zamora, kept my former supposition, and repeated, “He is NOT funny!” The more I insisted and repeated what he said; the more Dave laughed AT my “He is NOT FUNNY!” response! And the more he laughed, the more I insisted! “That GUY is NOT Funny. DAVID ZAMORA is NOT FUNNY.”

Dave proceeded to tell me a story meant to illustrate further that David was funny. Dave was driving in the middle of 30th street before the 210 freeway was finished a LONG time ago; in my life terms, it was not that busy at that location near Muscupiabe Drive. He was approached from behind by someone honking their horn impatiently and revving their engine. Dave described moving out of the way and turning to see who was acting so RUDE. It was David in his VW Van messing with him. Dave thought that was funny, too, once he realized it was not some random jerk. For the most part, Dave didn’t encounter many rude people. By and large, people were very kind to him, so he expected to move about the world with few hassles…from people…that other hassle of being paralyzed was mainly his only hassle.

I stood there blankly looking at Dave as he told this story of David pretending to run him over with his VW Van- I could hear the distinct sound that the revving motor of a VW Van. I looked at Dave exactly as I had looked at David Zamora on the porch earlier that day-like Tuesday* Addams. I was not impressed nor laughing. I lodged my final opinion, “So he was pretending to run you over with his stupid VW Van, to be funny?” Dave nodded, “Ya!” Long pause from me. “I stand by my previous statement. David Zamora is not funny.” He does have a fun name to say, though, and I liked saying it, David Zamora. I will give him that.

Dave continued on to try to persuade me further by sharing that he adored David’s wife, Sarah. That Dave and Sarah had been lifeguards together, the one Job Dave had had at San Bernardino High School during the summer of his Junior and Senior years before breaking his neck. He added more details that he thought were funny to illustrate their fun relationship further.

Sarah asked Dave to help her with her lifeguard water rescue certification by allowing her to rescue him from the deep end of the pool; At that time, Dave probably weighed 230 pounds of mostly muscle. Sarah in Dave’s description, “Was a tiny thing, not much taller than five feet.” When the time came for the rescue, Dave was in the deep end of the pool at SBHS and pretended to be in trouble; Sarah approached him to ‘save’ him from behind, as was the protocol. Dave laughed as he described how he allowed himself to go completely limp to simulate a real rescue and how Sarah struggled to get him to the side of the pool and out. As he laid there in front of me, telling me the story-paralyzed in bed, he illustrated for my benefit being unconscious like he acted out being back in the pool Sarah attempting to dredge him out of the deep end, he dropped his head to the side, closed his eyes, and his body went somehow limp-er if that was at all possible, conveying he was completely unconscious.

He was laughing at himself, which was hard not to join him because it was hilarious when he physically acted out things like that, and I did laugh, but just a little because I could not help but think. Wow, how prophetic was that? I didn’t say it out loud, but I could not help but think it. I know, ever the dark humor.

What comes around always goes around, doesn’t it? I have mentioned the six degrees of Kevin Bacon and Dave Linane before but wait; it gets so much worse. Awkwardly so.   

So, Ya, about that, later I happened to meet this Sarah and heard her side of that same lifeguard rescue story; she laughed as she explained how as she was struggling to drag Dave’s huge ‘pretending to be unconscious’ mass out of the deep end of the pool as she kept yelling at him, “Damn it-DAVID! Stop it!” He just laughed and laughed at her with his eyes closed. For the record, most people called our Dave, Dave; some people, like Sarah, called him David. He admonished her later, “You could have picked someone lighter or smaller!” and continued laughing. She made sure to include the important facts; she did successfully drag his ass out of the water and officially saved him, ultimately passing her lifeguard certification.

So how did it come to pass that I met Sarah? I knew you would ask. I mentioned applying for and getting a job with the school district where Jim worked in one of the previous Jim chapters. You recall, I worked directly for the superintendent, who, of course, serves at the pleasure of the school board. The Vice President of the school board at that time was none other than David Zamora. Ya, that “He is NOT funny” David Zamora, with me, the ever unimpressed Tuesday* Addams giving him the ice princess treatment on our front porch “is Dave lying AROUND the house?” ya, that David Zamora. He was my boss’s boss, so indirectly MY new boss. Awkward.

David never acted like he remembered that day when I didn’t think he was funny on our porch. I saw him at least once or twice a week around the office, and he always asked me, “How’s Dave?” He was not trying to funny; he was just kind. I was used to that sort of kindness with people surrounding my connectedness to Dave. I expected it and enjoyed telling anyone that “He was doing really GREAT!” And then I would share one of the many crazy Dave capers I have shared in this book with them because there was always something funny or interesting or inspiring going on with that guy. I suppose that is what the children or family members of really famous people live with. It never overshadowed me-except that one time after Shelly’s funeral when the disparity felt too great between our evolution as human beings-that may also have been the kindest thing I have still ever heard of anyone doing, so I am fine giving him all the spotlight in the world for that-now of course.  

David always expressed his pride in what Dave was doing to move his life forward. I met his wife, Sarah, at a district event where she immediately told me the story of saving Dave from the deep end of the pool lifeguard certification story. It was really funny hearing her voice shout, “Damn it, David!” in the back of an echo-y and crowded with parents middle school gymnasium.

It was David who revealed to me that his family member had applied for and been interviewed for the same job I now held. He also told me that he was very happy with my performance in my role. He did tease me once, and I thought it might have been a tiny jab back at my unimpressed Tuesday* Addams’ (family) coldness when he referred to me as DA BOMB, and I didn’t understand the reference. In a post-911 time and in schools or government agencies where bomb threats are a very real thing, I didn’t get the reference. Apparently, I was not hip. “Pardon?”

David and Sarah had three teenage girls- the source of much more sophisticated pop culture than I was getting exposed to by far with one elementary school-age boy- a very different pop culture reference demographic. I had either been in college or grad school (as a single mom) for the previous half-decade and working. I was not hanging out on campus having fun slinging or creating urban dictionary terms. At this point, on top of my day job (career), I was also teaching four nights a week, and on weekends at my alma mater, The University of Redlands, where my students referred to me by another pop culture phrase that went over like a lead turd with me, I was quote, “The Shit.” A reference that also required me to ask for clarification as to whether it was a good thing or not.

Look, I have a sense of humor, but I didn’t have any leisure time for ANY fun pop culture in my life and didn’t get any of these references because I was simply too damn tired to be clever or hip. My response to David was, “THE Bomb? That’s a good thing, I hope? Is that like being ‘THE Shit?’ that is what my students refer to me as…” He laughed and said, “Yes, it is a good thing; and clearly, you are NOT hip if you do not know what DA Bomb is. DA BOMB not THE Bomb.” My only response, “I will not argue with any of that.” We turned our separate ways, I heard him as he continued laughing at me. I was giggling to myself in the realization that I may not be hip anymore, everyone reaches that low moment of disappointed awareness, but I AM… DA Bomb AND… THE shit. I moved on to another district not long after that conversation.

Many years later, when my darling husband Rick and I picked up my sister Anne and her husband Randy (also darling) from Long Beach airport a few days before Dave’s Viking Funeral. We stopped in Seal Beach for dinner. It was dinner time, and it is always good to find a spot ad stay put for a bit to avoid greater L.A. traffic at that time of day. While we were sitting at dinner, Rick got a text. He looked up from his phone and asked Anne and Randy, “Did you know David Zamora.” Rick and I had friends in common who collectively knew David. DID? I thought, Did know David Zamora? WHAT? And I asked, “DID you?? As in PAST TENSE? DID YOU?” facing my darling husband, thinking that he was alluding to David Zamora having left the building just a few days after my Dave. He nodded as he said, “Ya, David Zamora had a heart attack and died at the wheel this afternoon.”

Anne and Randy had attended SBHS but did not know David Zamora. I told them the “He’s not funny” story and how the world is so embarrassingly much smaller than you think; how I had worked FOR David just months later after the debacle on our porch, and the hilarious awkwardness of it all. Before that moment of bad news, I fully expected to see among the hundreds of familiar faces, David and Sarah at Dave’s Viking Funeral. Instead, his family was mourning their David, and I wouldn’t be with them either and was sad for that and for them. 

People always inquired about Dave when he was alive, mentioning how much they “just adore him.” From the moment he left the building, only the tense has shifted but not the adoration; they now say how much they “adored him.”

David Zamora was in the crowd of new friends that morning in middle school, the moment when Brian and Dave first met each other, and then later after school, David Zamora witnessed those Brian and Dave get into that draw of an entangling wrestling match on the grass for so long without killing each other that everyone got bored and left-including David.

David Zamora would have been one of those people who I really would have enjoyed talking to about this book, hearing one more surprising new story of the adventures of Dave Linane. Thank you for being a kind friend and witness to my Dave’s life David and for not taking me breaking your balls a bit on our porch too personally.

First, Steven’s uncle Jess died, then a few days later, our Dave, then my mother-in-law, and now David Zamora within ten days. I really felt like I was seeing dead people because it was shaping up to be the summer of death.

*I apparently conflated the actual character’s correct name, Wednesday Addams with Tuesday back then and in this essay, probably because Mardi means Tuesday. I never watched the show or movie, I just knew the character revealed nothing by way of a look on her face- Dave did not correct me back then. All of it is even funnier that a reader pointed that out to me. Hilarious-er. XO

© Mardi Linane Copyright 2020

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