Years ago, when I was working for the Washington Post, a mentally disturbed woman managed to climb into the lion enclosure at the National Zoo one night after hours. Her body was discovered the next morning. This was horrific, of course, but like cops, paramedics and other people who have to look at horrific things with some regularity, newspaper people develop coping mechanisms. One is humor. Very, very black humor.The reporter who was assigned to cover the story went out to the zoo to get the facts, and came back late that afternoon. My desk was next to the city desk, so I heard the ensuing conversation:
Editor: "What happened?"
Reporter: (Long sigh) "Oh, the usual. Each lion's saying the other lion did it."
Maybe black humor appeals because I"m a black mood. Birthdays aren't good. And on this one, I missed my mother, who died last December of congestive heart failure. For the first time in 50 years, I did not hear that warm Southern voice saying, "Happy birthday." And yesterday, not even the hugs of my children and all their happy babble could make up for the one voice that was missing.