April 2018

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 14: Inappropriate Laughter

Day 14: I envy Mr. Kotter who could always keep his laughter "inside, where it counts." I am generally able to keep my observations of ironies and absurdities to myself, but often my laughter busts out. In a somewhat serious conversation, someone will turn to me and say, "What's so funny?" Wisely, I keep it to myself and they just think I'm a little weird. I'm hoping the brain tumor rumor will buy me an excuse for this.

Many times my inappropriate laughter is just a cannon shot, a quick burst that we can all ignore and move on. Every now and then, however, I laugh in that way where I gasp for breath, cough, start to cry and shake all over. Mostly, this happens in church.

A few years ago, a friend named Rob got up to read the day's scripture. It was long and had lots of names in it. He struggled through, pausing to take a deep breath and roll his eyes from time to time. At last he finished and sat back in the pew, clearly glad to be there. There was an uncomfortable silence. His wife leaned over to him. He rolled his eyes again and returned to the front. "It's another long one," he said as introduction to the second reading. We laughed so hard we giggled our pew the whole service. It was my favorite reading ever.

In college, my friends Becky and Catherine and my cousin Lori went to State University together and got out for their winter break later than I did, so I went to visit them in their dorm. Becky and Catherine roomed together and Becky was afraid to go into her room because Catherine was in there with a boy (alas!) and the door was closed. Lori, who reminded me of Lucille Ball with her red hair, blue eyes and exaggerated expressions, always specialized in spying and decided to dress as a spy in trench coat and dark glasses and see what was going on. She flung Catheirne's door open, jumped into the door frame, and shouted, "Ah!" Then she gasped, put her hand over her mouth, flung eyes and mouth wide--and ran. I think that was the last time I wet my pants.

As a child in a large Baptist church, sometimes folks would go to the communion table at the front and pass around the elements (that's what they call them), saying to one another in turn, "This is the body of our lord, broken for you." My cousin Lori and I found this hilarious. We were already laughing when we got there. When the bread came to me, I had just calmed down, but could only say to her, "This..." before shaking with laughter again and passing the bread on. Someone else's mother scolded us after church. I thought she took herself a bit too seriously, but this time I didn't laugh.

Here's to a good chuckle, outside where it counts. Mary


  1. Often I see people who resemble some celebrity and think to myself things like: "DynoMITE!" or "Mister Kot-TER!". Mary, we really should hang out so we can say these things to each other.


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