Conversation and precious laughter

Smiley faces

I’m not the friend who peppers the conversation with quotes from movies. I’m the one who usually stares blankly when everyone else is laughing at a quote from The Simpsons or Family Guy, unless it’s a smack-you-in-the-face famous quote for dummies like ‘I’ll be baaaaack’. So, despite being a literature-oriented person, I don’t remember quotes, and I don’t remember conversations very well either. Biographies full of dialogue baffle me – did they really remember whole conversations, or did they just make it up based on the theme? So I don’t remember the details, but I am left with vignettes – emotionally imbued settings in which significant times were had.

Picture a dormitory style campsite on a hill above the sea. A site set on grass so green due to constant rain. Communal bathrooms with cold concrete floors and the usual collection of toilet cubicles, showers with bedraggled curtains and basins with water pooled on the surface where you want to set your toothbrush down. I’m not sure if we ran into each other in the bathroom or if we went in there intentionally to chat – hey there’s nowhere else to go when you’re sharing a room with 6 others and the dining hall is locked! We were university students on a camp with our club. My friend was blond and vivacious and a great storyteller. She often made us laugh at her own expense, like the time she was out jogging and she praised the work of some men weeding the creek bed, who jokingly invited her to join them, and so she cluelessly ended up helping this group of prisoners with their community service. She could always have you rolling in the aisles with her tales.

I don’t know how we got on to this topic, but we started talking about hugs. Different sorts of hugs – the awkward ones where the tall man tries to hug the short woman who is almost at his groin level, the big bear hug, the cautious hug with limp hesitant hands stretched out and no body where you don’t want the other person to get the wrong impression about you. We started demonstrating these hugs and we were soon in fits of laughter. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in one night. This conversation must have gone on for a few hours – it was 3am and a few people complained about us in the morning. But we had surrendered to the doubled-over belly achingly unstoppable power of laughter.

We seemed to have a lot more to laugh about back when we were twenty. Many of the realities of adult life hadn’t hit yet, and if you’d had a childhood that was relatively kind to you – you hadn’t had many friends or family members die – you didn’t realise it could get harder to find things to laugh about. In my city we have a comedy festival, but I often forget to go, or when I have gone, I have struggled to find something really funny to see. I don’t find comedy very clever where the only adjective is the F word, or where everything is sexual innuendo (or just plain explicit). I crave something truly witty – cleverly constructed character and well-crafted words that will make me laugh. Not laugh at others’ misfortunes, or at the brokenness of the world. Laugh with hope. Laugh with a laughter made of light.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you laugh about, it’s who you’re with and how late it is and you’ll find almost anything funny. Playing Balderdash can bring you to tears of laughter over the ridiculous definitions of words you’ve created. Sorting fête donations with my mother we were in stitches over headless dolls and wondering who’d been chewing them last and why you would donate them for sale. Another time we cackled over books on the craft of wood burning that contained the ugliest pictures of kittens with balls of string that I’ve ever seen. It’s the people and the moments and it might sound like a cliché, but if we have an opportunity to bring some humour to someone in the day: a downcast workmate, an automaton checkout operator, a bored petrol station attendant let’s make them laugh, let’s make them smile. There are few sounds more joyful than sincere peals of laughter.

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5 Comments

Filed under A humorous life

5 responses to “Conversation and precious laughter

  1. Very well done. Your writing style paints pictures I can visualize. Good job.

  2. I feel your pain…I can NEVER remember the movie quote in time to put it into the conversation. This is a great piece. Another great one for laughter is Scribblish…I think that’s my favorite. You draw a picture on a strip of paper, then the next person captions it…then passes it on (after covering the picture) and the third person draws a picture to go with the caption, then covers the caption and the next person captions the just-drawn picture, and so on. It’s wildly hilarious.

  3. Absolutely loving reading your posts Jo! Keep up the craftiness:)

  4. I enjoy a good belly laugh, doubled over, laughing at something funny or stupid or entertaining. Usually I laugh at myself as I am very clumsy and trip over my own shadow.

    Two movies, with funny scenes, always stay with me.

    Porky’s – the Movie. The scene where the head sports mistress has seen the tallywacker through the hole in the girls toilets. This scene always makes me laugh so hard. Picture this.

    “The male gym teachers are all in an office and the head gym teacher walks in. She says she wants the male teachers to do a line up of all the boys so she can identify the tallywacker she saw, as it has a mole on it. As she talks the male gym teachers all start to laugh, so hard they are rolling on the floor in fits of laughter.”

    Now that is a good belly laugh, when you fall on the floor laughing. When I saw this move at the pictures (showing my age here I actually saw this movie on the big screen) we were laughing so hard during this scene, that we couldn’t hear the dialogue on the screen.

    The other movie that also stays with me, for a good laugh, is Caddyshack. The scene. The log in the swimming pool.

    “The scene starts with all the children swimming in the pool at the golf course. Suddenly you hear jaws music – boom boom boom boom – and then you see an ominous brown object floating in the water towards the children. Children and adults start screaming and there is a mass evacuation of the pool.
    In the next scene the pool is empty of water, and the brown object lies on the bottom of the pool. The janitor is in the pool, at the bottom, and he’s dressed up in a white suit. He walks towards the object, picks it up, takes off his spacesuit helmet, sniffs the object, then takes a bite of the chocolate bar that some child dropped into the pool. And a lady watching the scene faints.”

    My friend and I could not stop laughing, and when we stopped laughing we would look at each other and double over laughing again. Laughter really is the best medicine.

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