George liked my thoughts on human origins and our supposed sense of humor and asked if there were more to the tale. Of course, there is always more to the tale. You can find the traces and relics in how we speak and the words we use.

The adjective “humane” implies a concern for the welfare of other life forms, and seems to grow out of the assertion that God gave mankind dominion over the other animals, fish and birds, but neglected to mention worms, trees, flowers, mushrooms and mosquitoes. The term “dominion” is so broadly interpreted, that we have had to establish humane societies to regulate our behavior among, and relationship to, other living things. Mammals seem to get the benefit of the doubt, while bed bugs and ants are dismissed out of hand. See, there’s one now, here, let me step on it.

When coaxing someone, or asking a favor, we sometimes say “Humor me.” And when he is at his best under stress we say The Man is acting with humility.

Absent rage, rape, robbery or remonstration, and while he is not pumping, primping, pimping or pummeling his neighbor, The Man is said to be humble. He may also be said to be in a good humor, when content, and in a bad humor when upset, angry or disturbed.

Trying to get the attention of The Man, we often say “Ah-hum,” although influenced by editors and the printed word, we spell it Ah-hem, and yet, it is pronounced Ah-hum.

Where The Man is most comfortable is called his Hum, although, as in the case with Ah-hem, it s spelled Home, and when inviting a visitor to relax and be comfortable, we tell him to just “make yourself at Hum.”


When happy, and doing something he enjoys, The Man is often heard to be making a kind of wordless music with his voice, and when asked what he is doing, will probably say he is Humming. All men hum, although under vastly different circumstances.

When bored, The Man can sometimes be heard to exclaim “Ho-hum,” which I find to be a contraction of “How human,” which is the state the modern person is apt to experience when divorced or separated from television, the internet, telephone, whether land-line or mobile, and all other forms of distraction.

With no buttons to push, or apps to fondle in bright lights on a backlit screen, what’s a person supposed to do with himself for the rest of the day? One can only eat so much.

George’s response was quick and true. He said one could eat, sleep and make families, and added that he thought my train of thought had left the tracks some time ago. But thank you, anyway.

Orrin Frink is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at

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