A Little Happier: This Remark from 1773 Always Makes Me Laugh

There are certain phrases, images, and memories that always make me happy.

For some reason, this line from Boswell’s biography The Life of Samuel Johnson strikes me as one of the funniest things I’ve ever read (and it’s not even a quotation from Johnson).

This is from a conversation that Dr. Johnson had with James Boswell in London, February 24, 1773.

Boswell writes, 

Lord Chesterfield being mentioned, Johnson remarked, that almost all of the celebrated nobleman’s witty sayings were puns. He, however, allowed the merit of good wit to his Lordship’s saying of Lord Tyrawley and himself, when both were very old and infirm: “Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years; but we don’t choose to have it known.”

An image that always makes me happy: the famous opening hat toss from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary Richards’s feeling of sudden exhilaration is familiar, but rare and precious.

A memory that always makes me happy: Early in our marriage, my husband Jamie walked into our bedroom in his boxers and announced, “I am LORD of the DANCE!” and started doing that Lord-of-the-Dance dancing. That memory always makes me laugh, and whenever I need to smile for a photograph, I think of it. He’s never done it again, though I’ve often begged him for a repeat performance.

I like keeping a mental list of these kinds of things. It’s like my own playlist of elevation.




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