Monday, March 22, 2010

Laughter: The Best Medicine... Of Doom

So I'm sitting in a coffee shop trying to ignore a middle-aged guy two tables away. He's sitting with a friend, and they are both laughing. But this guy in particular -- I'll call him Bill -- sounds like he's been dipping into the nitrous oxide. The laughter is pouring out of him, in all shapes, sizes, and forms (this includes cackling like a wicked witch), and I'm about ready to send some hot coffee his way. No, I don't mean buying him a drink. I mean THROW COFFEE AT HIS HEAD.

A second friend has just plunked himself down at Bill's table, which has prompted -- I kid you not -- a genuine burst of North Poleean Ho, Ho, Ho!s. Changin' it up a notch? Okay, Bill. Ack, he's varietized again! Here comes a round of Heh heh heh!s. Now I've become obsessed with counting the Hehs. I wonder, do more syllables directly correspond to more mirth? "Eh, that joke was mildly amusing. FOUR hehs, I say. Why, that last remark was especially witty! I shall bestow upon it a TEN-HEH salute! Eleven if you're lucky! And a coda of Ho, Ho, Ho!s, my good fellow!"


Laughter is a bizarre thing, if you really think about it. Sure, it comes naturally, and yeah, some people love a good laugh. But think about it -- how many other normal bodily sounds draw so many question marks from those around you? Example: Let's say you're riding a bus (buses and bodily noises go hand-in-hand, after all). The guy sitting next to you sighs. Okay, you can assume he's having a hard day. Or he's tired. No cause for concern there. Maybe the guy burps. Rude, sure, but maybe he just downed a Big Gulp. A sneeze? Allergies. Cough? He needs to clear his throat. A laugh?


It's frightening! It induces paranoia! I can't just accept that maybe he suddenly recalled a funny joke from eariler. No, ten bucks says he's sitting there thinking about world domination.

I guess when it comes right down to it, if someone's laughing, I want to be in on it. I want to know what's so darn funny. And if you're planning something diabolical, by all means, keep me informed.

Also, maybe, deep down, I want to be sitting here with someone who makes me laugh the way Bill's friends are making him laugh. Maybe I need to call up my buddies for a coffee date. We'll talk and reminisce and laugh to our hearts' delight, prompting the other patrons to wonder as to our sanity.

But I'll draw the line at Ho, Ho, Ho-ing.

Sorry, Bill... that's just weird.

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