Sight gags are by far one of the greatest forms of humor and a personal favorite art medium of this writer. Whether they are simplistic, as in the placement of an item in an out of place manner, or so creatively complex words cannot describe, it takes a highly creative and imaginative mind to create a visual joke. Of course for it to work relies on people seeing it and then getting it… if they can stop mindlessly scrolling Face Book and playing Candy-Crush on their phones long enough to do so.

Ya know it seems kind of detrimental for a literary humorist to give such high praise to visual humor. Yes, writing is visual but it’s not like you can just look at this column and burst into laughter…you actually have to read it. Who knows, all this talk on vision based comedy may influence some readers to put this paper down and wander off to find something funny or weird to look at…like a mirror. Oh that’s good, insult the audience, that’ll keep ’em reading for sure. Well it’s only meant to insult the people who don’t read it. So if you’re still here then you’re probably not that funny or weird looking…probably. And we are slowly drifting off subject right on schedule.

Sight gags are fun! There, how’s that for a quick U-turn?

When I moved into my house years ago, one of my favorite house-warming gifts turned out to be an unsuspecting sight gag with a lot of hidden potential. It was a generic, hard rubber WELCOME mat. The kind with the little hard rubber spikes designed for scrapping unwanted, unintentionally-obtained poo off one’s shoes before entering a residence. It goes without saying that if shoe poo is intentionally obtained then you are either stupid or an a-hole who has no intention of using the shoe poo removal mat. Regardless of its intended purpose, I put it everywhere…the mat… not shoe poo! (“Shoe poo” is just fun to say!)

Under the kitchen table, you are WELCOME to join us for a meal. Beside the car, you are WELCOME to go for a ride. Behind the car, get in the trunk you are WELCOME to become a kidnap victim. In front of the toilet, it worked great for those late night misses and you are WELCOME to make a poo…keep your shoes out of it. Beside the tub, you are WELCOME to feel discomfort caused by hard rubber spikes digging into your bare feet.

Ya know during the summer those mats, being black rubber, get really hot. That and the spikes may deter barefoot visitors, but you are WELCOME to burn your feet. In front of the sink, you are WELCOME to do the dishes. I put it beside the bed; got naked, got in, waited…nobody came L Oh wow that actually has a dirty, double innuendo meaning if you think about it. And you probably didn’t think of that till I pointed it out…or maybe you did…pervert! In the end, the welcome mat does not truly serve function unless it’s outside; which just opens the doorway for more sight gag antics.

Place it in the driveway, you are WELCOME to exit your vehicle. Put it at the end of the walkway leading to the house, you are WELCOME to take the path or your WELCOME begins beyond this point.

Alas, I am told, the mat must be placed in front of the front door. Hmmm not much to do with it here, but maybe if we turn it sideways visitors will feel compelled to jump off the porch?

Then she left. I got to keep the house, but she took most of what was in it. (Wow that just took a turn for the surrealistic worst). Depression, despair and the home once again became just a house. All the while the welcome mat remained, ever vigilant for visitors. None were welcome and none came, thus it was rolled up and tucked away.

Time passed, and though it didn’t heal all wounds as they say it will, they did become more bearable. The house once again became a home, refurnished on a single-father’s budget and the welcome mat was unfurled. And yet its warmth and open greeting invited a cold and malicious presence to enter. Visitors would come and were heartily welcomed into my humble abode. Old friends and new, they seemed pleasant enough, but upon their departure would laugh and openly mock and scorn the struggle to maintain the questionable décor within. People talk, word gets around; there are no bad secrets, because those that hurt the most are the ones we’re most willing to share. Such things are petty and to be overlooked, but very unhealthy for the soul.

Thus it was with a heavy heart I stood at my threshold. Glaring down at the stoop and the message displayed in faded grey rubber which no longer held humor, warmth, meaning or even a place there. The intention was to remove it. To deny any further visitors the courtesy of the warm salutation they so richly did not deserve. And then a pause…as I looked up and took in the world out there and all around. Yes, they were out there, but that was my world too.

My welcome could be made a mockery of and become the victim of cruel jest. However I could not be denied the pleasure of warmly greeting myself out into the world we all share, with a simple appreciated gesture, expressed in one simple word: WELCOME. And so I bent, turned the mat around, smiled, went inside and closed the door.

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Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya!