The following is a guest post from our friend Jeff Bogle, publisher of Out With the Kids.
I’ll never be a stand-up comic. I blame my parents.
My childhood afforded me many things in life, but the opportunity to spend late nights working the open mic comedy scene and making the lives of strangers temporarily better by making them laugh was not one of them. I lacked the strife and struggle necessary to produce the deeply emotional comedic material I favor. My dad wasn’t an abusive asshole. My mom, not even the least bit conniving. They are still happily married after five decades, a fact that single-handedly doomed my funny man career. I had it easy. Too easy, probably—central air, golf clubs, filet mignon, and trips to Bermuda.
My wife, conversely, had none of those things. She had the smell of alcohol, frozen breaded chicken cutlets, and trips to the corner store for more cigarettes for dad. Keep the change, kid. She also had a pair of older siblings who couldn’t wait to flee the scene and a younger one who stumbled out of the blocks and didn’t make it far enough away in the end. Thankfully, my wife was afforded the experience to view the potential for a more pleasant life by partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Yes, she had capital letter Big Sisters even though she had a lowercase one. It’s okay, you can chuckle at that. I think it’s funny in a sad way too.
Over the course of a few years, her Big Sisters showed that inner city struggles and vodka bottles and street corner stabbings were not necessarily her predestined path, that the grass is indeed greener, and that she can do so much more than those who have come before her. It made a world of difference to her, and in turn, to me because that little girl growing up in South Philly is now a bright woman, a brilliant mom, and a wonderful wife. That little girl is now a successful and happy adult who is about to complete the circle, becoming a Big Sister to a young inner city girl who, like herself many years ago, needed a friendly smile, an ear to bend, and a face of hope.
We’ve given financially to Big Brother Big Sisters over the years, small offerings of thanks for what the program gave my wife some 25 years ago, but we both look forward to becoming active in the organization to mentor, assist, teach, and give hope to a new generation in need of a path being cleared out before them. I might not ever brighten someone’s day on stage with a joke, but thanks to my wife I see a better way that I can help.