I've spent countless enjoyable hours the past few days finishing the fascinating book, The Devil In the White City. It was written by Seattle author, Erik Larson. It's a non-fiction book that reads like a fiction thriller, telling two intertwined tales. The first is about the legendary architect, Daniel Burnham, and his colleagues who went through great strife to build the amazing 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The second is about a despicable serial killer who carried out unspeakable acts very close to where the fair was held.
It was recommended by my friend, Kristi, and is one of the best books I've read in some time. I actually left the copy I bought on a plane coming back from Hawaii! But the Vancouver Public Library quickly helped me out!!
So what does all of this have to do with humour? Well, let me quote you something from Page 284:
With so many people packed among steam engines, giant rotating wheels, horse-drawn fire trucks, and rocketing bobsleds, the fair's ambulances superintended by a doctor named Gentles were constantly delivering bruised, bloody, and overheated visitors to the exposition hospital. Over the life of the fair the hospital treated 11,602 patients, sixty-four a day, for injuries and ailments that suggest that the mundane sufferings of people have not changed very much over the ages. The list included:
- 820 cases of diarrhea;
- 154, constipation;
- 21, hemorrhoids;
- 434, indigestion;
- 365, foreign bodies in the eyes;
- 364, severe headaches;
- 594 episodes of fainting, syncope, and exhaustion;
- 1 case of extreme flatulence;
- and 169 involving teeth that hurt like hell.
That 2nd to last line had me burst out with laughter, first wondering what on earth would cause a person to be overcome with "extreme flatulence" and then wondering whether they were admitted themselves or were forcibly removed from the fair grounds! The last line extended my joviality a bit longer.