Hollywood has the unfortunate habit of trying to work Tourette’s Syndrome into comedies without really understanding what’s funny about it. Invariably it becomes slapstick. A gag. Something to make the audience laugh out of ignorance rather than understanding. The thing is, TS really can be funny. But like most humor, subtlety is often funnier than blatant in-your-face jokes.
A little over a year ago I was doing dishes when one of my full upper-body tics took hold. These involved jerking my head forward while throwing my hands up in the air.
So here’s my version of the events: Doing dishes, rinsing a knife, tic tic tic, look up to see my wife standing in front of me with a really appalled expression on her face.
And here’s my wife’s version of the events: Walk into the kitchen to see husband repeatedly stabbing at his own face with a chef’s knife.
Both versions end the same: “Just… Put… Down… The… Knife…”
We both got a good laugh out of it later. In my case I was laughing within minutes. In her case it took a little longer. You can understand why. I was pretty glad when that tic faded into the background and eventually disappeared. But I think my wife was even more happy.
Last week we had cake at work. After cutting the cake one of my co-workers handed me the icing-covered knife to lick. Right as I stuck the knife in my mouth I couldn’t help thinking, “This would be a really bad time for that tic to show up again!”
One of my other co-workers looked over at me and said, “There’s no way this ends well.” Maybe they know me better than I thought.