You can tell a bit about a man by what it is that makes him silly. For some, the later it gets, the more likely it is to happen. Surround him with good friends, let the jokes begin, and see where the evening takes him.

Some folks will be suspicious there's alcohol involved but the most and best of such situations that I have witnessed didn't rely upon that particular amplification. It was nothing other than good company and quick wit that sent people into fits of laughter and no amount of alcohol can turn bad company into good.

Humor can be a powerful narcotic, inducing a euphoria that is right effective. Someone surrounded with people they love, clever comments playing off one another but without malice aforethought, and you soon see someone who has forgotten their troubles for a while. 

Rather, then, they are caught up in the joy of life.

Another thing that can take me there to the land of Forget Dignity, Enjoy Life is the company of small children. Particularly if there is a genetic link.

A couple of months ago, Randa and I drove over to western Kentucky to make acquaintance with our newest grandchild. We got there before the little booger was even a week old. It had been quite a while since we'd managed to meet one that fresh from the factory. 

What a delight that is! Doesn't matter if it's the first or the 21st, holding the past, present and future in such a package as that is one of life's finest and unmitigated pleasures. 

Well, unmitigated so long as the little one is properly filled, gastric contents duly adjusted and Tiny Person is satisfied with current manner of being held.

A very nice added bonus of that visit was the opportunity to play with little Amos's older sisters. Miah and Isle are around five and three and just about the perfect size for having fun without a lot of extra expense. Particularly if one is willing to sacrifice a reasonable measure of dignity and act a fool in the interest of improved inter-generational relationships.

There ought to be some sort of immunity for an old man attempting to entertain his grandkids. Never mind that the truth might get a little lost in the commotion or that he may be saying things that he knows make no sense. 

If he's capable of getting down on the floor with them and then getting back up with a minimum of assistance, then let him have at it for a while. If the mutual laughter and commotion rattles the dishes and shakes the plates for a while, so be it. If he tells them they have pumpernickel pudding stuck behind their ears, don't get in too much of a hurry to offer a contrary opinion.

Just leave 'em be. Trust me, this level of energy isn't going to hold up for very long and they'll all sleep better tonight. This sort of shape-shifting shenanigans is right as rain in August, nourishing to the soul and good for whatever ails you. 

I'm guessing that even God grins when old men work so hard at making little children laugh. After all, when his son visited with us upon this planet, it was his divine instruction: get those kids over here to me and then get out of our way! (That's not precisely how the KJV words it but I think it cuts pretty close to the meaning.)

I have spent far too little of my life getting seriously silly with my progeny. I'm putting my kids and grandkids on alert — I think I may need more practice.

 Doc Arnett has been a professional educator and bi-vocational minister for more than 40 years. He currently pastors the Community Church of South Haven.

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