For your journal/discussion:

Who were your class comedians?

What did they teach you about life at your school?

How did they gift you for the journey then or after?

Write a brief character description or tell the story of one of their pranks. 

And now, a story about a comic I remember:

"How Do You Hold a Moonbeam in Your Hand?"

I love it when, even in grief, I wake in the middle of the night laughing at something from a memory or out of a dream. Last night, 3:34 a.m., was one of those times. And the subject, as it has been here and there for a number of years, was Maria.

My father, who passed away one year ago today, loved Maria’s smile, and loved to see me happy. So I like to think some energy of his spirit helped me remember Maria for this morning, of all mornings.

Maria in high school was not your seen-one, seen-a-gaggle-of-them class clowns. Indeed, she was the quintessence of school-time buffoonery. But Maria was her own brand of comic too. I described her in detail in my story, “Claudia,” published some years ago in an online magazine and in an essay, “Tears of a Clown,” which I wrote more recently for a national print mag.

Let me skip the whimsical and beautiful details for this blog entry and get to the laughter that woke me today. I won’t even tell of the back-story circumstances under which Maria’s humor blossomed, like the loss of her mum when she was fourteen, or about the faded rose of a used-to-be convent school we attended where some of the bizarro faculty members were the unwitting crux and core of Maria's high school parodies. (Some of them are still living, after all.)

Going straight to the punch line, via the memory: After high school we went and roomed together at college, Loyola Marymount University, which stands on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Our first winter at LMU we came back to our room one pre-Christmas evening to find an enormous Christmas tree in the vestibule of our dorm, at the juncture of three building wings.

As I was the straight woman, or Little Miss Innocence and instigator of a number of Maria’s pranks, all I had to do was mention how that gargantuan tree would FILL the first-floor bathroom that was right around the corner.

Well, wouldn’t you know, the following morning when the earliest sleepy-heads toddled off to have their morning showers, they couldn’t budge the bathroom door without a lot of heave and ho. And when they finally did get it open, they were met with a furry slap in the face from one hefty dormitory pine.

We’d only been at LMU a few months by then. But when the dorm moderator, our wonderful Sister Peg, got the tattle from her resident advisors, wouldn’t you also know the one and only word heard shouted down our hallway was, “Maria!”

So this was the memory that woke me chuckling today. By the way, this is only an example of Maria’s milder pranks. The rest of them are mostly "doozies," as she would say. Happy rebirthday, Dad. I hope my joy remembering Maria brings your spirit a warm grin too. With great love for my father's memory, my college roomie, and you, Dear Reader.

(The title above is quoted from the Rodgers and Hammerstein song, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" of the classic musical, "The Sound of Music.")