Who doesn’t appreciate a good laugh? Gulfport writer James R. Coffey certainly does – and now he has shared the gift of guffaw with the reading public through a memorable anecdote published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Well THAT Was Funny (Chicken Soup for the Soul / Zilker Media, 2023).
As you might guess from the title, Coffey’s “Something Old, Something New” begins in those memorable moments before a wedding — specifically, that of Coffey’s sister (now deceased). What begins as a heartwarming, welcome-to-the-family speech from her soon-to-be mother-in-law quickly transforms into what Coffey refers to as a “quirky marriage tradition” that you’ll have to read two or three times over to believe. And yet, Coffey assures me, “the story is completely true!”
Stirring Up the Soup
Coffey has previously published fiction in Aboriginal Science Fiction, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Close to the Bone, and other outlets. But submitting this true-life tale was, he says, an act of love. “My sister and I were very close,” he says, “so she couldn’t wait to tell me how she was essentially ‘initiated’ into my brother-in-law’s family. I thought the whole pre-marriage ambush was rather clever, so I honored her by including her story in the Chicken Soup anthology.”
The collection, which contains 101 short, everyday stories in categories such as “Mistaken Identity,” “Senior Moments,” and “Pawsitive Thinking” (focused on pets, of course) is a highly entertaining read. Like other volumes in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, it aims to spread “happiness, inspiration, and hope” to its wide readership – a kind of narrative self-help, according to its publisher. Well THAT Was Funny is the eighth humor collection in the 30-year-old series.
It’s a Bit Spicy
Despite its silly content, some of the stories in Well THAT Was Funny (including “Something Old, Something New”) contain language or concepts that are a bit mature. So proceed with caution around younger readers. (It just goes to show you can’t always judge a book by its cover — which, in this case, features a ridiculously cute grinning tree frog.)
Even so, dipping into this goofy gathering of stories ought to have a beneficial effect. It’s not unlike that timeless ritual of sitting around fire, or the kitchen table, swapping stories and collapsing into fits of laughter. For all that’s saddening, maddening, or anxiety-producing in the world at our particular moment, it’s still possible — on might even say healthy — to laugh.