Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Inappropriate Laughter

I love to laugh, I love to make people laugh, and I love to hear people laugh – unless I’ve gone to town in shorts; then I’m suspicious of laughter in my vicinity. Laughter is a huge part of who I am, however, this gift of laughter is also a bit of a curse at times. Like, when I can’t control it in embarrassing, unfortunate, and/or awkward situations.

Granny Glenn passed away when I was pregnant with Abby – so pregnant I was convinced that when she wasn’t using my bladder for a pillow, she was kickboxing with it. My sister, Cousin Courtney, and I were shuffling quietly and serenely into the chapel of the funeral home when Aunt Erma accidentally took a picture, setting off a blinding flash only capable by the old school flash cubes of the 70’s and 80’s. It was 1996 and Aunt Erma was still blinding everyone with flash cubes and also, did you catch that she brought a camera to a funeral?? We three girls began giggling when my giant belly nearly knocked over four people as we shuffled down the row, giggled harder when the camera flash went off, but we spiraled out of control when my giggling paired with a sucker punch by my gestating daughter caused me to wet myself right there in the Cooper-Althouse chapel. After a quick run to the bathroom where we nearly collapsed from laughter, we managed to regain control only to spontaneously begin again several times throughout the service. Hopefully folks behind us perceived the shaking of our shoulders with crying, not laughter.

My mom, Uncle David, and I are all afflicted with a phenomenon known as “Furniture Relocation Hysterics.” It’s a medical condition that appears to be in remission, then attacks the patient when they lift a piece of furniture more than six inches off the ground. It is then that the laughter commences, thus causing muscle weakness, loss of breath, tears, and sometimes loss of bladder control. It has also on occasion caused bruised shins, smashed toes, and irritated husbands.

As a teen, once during the Lord’s Supper, the cups were filled too full. Mom, Sis and I were carefully holding our miniscule cups, full to the brim, all three of us getting more and more tickled because the more we tried to not laugh, the more we laughed and the closer we came to spilling Welch’s grape all over our Sunday best. We were never so glad to hear the words, “Drink this in remembrance of Me” in our lives.

More recently, I was plagued with a case of inappropriate laughter when the kids’ doctor tried to convince me to vaccinate my youngest for HPV, a vaccination I am not comfortable with after reading about some serious side effects. This did not please the doctor who then informed me that I was going to watch a video. I informed him that his video would not change my mind. He sat his iPad firmly down in front of me and said, “Watch this.” What followed was a parody video extolling the virtues of the vaccine and at the same time describing all of the horrible things that could happen to my child by not vaccinating her. Did I mention it was all set to the tune of a 1991 acoustic ballad with an added awkward bass drop and rap solo at the end? I tried so hard to keep a straight face, but I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t a good example to my kids that day – especially since they had maintained straight faces until they saw that I was giggling while tears streamed down my face. By the time the video ended, all three of us were beyond laughter and had slipped over to uncontrollable guffaws. It was definitely not my most shining parental example, but in addition to a legacy of informed selective vaccination rebellion, I hope to leave behind a legacy of laughter. Hopefully the kids will learn to control the laughter better than I ever have. 

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Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...