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Live, Love, Learn, LAUGH

I know, I know. The cliché is Live, Love, Laugh. Right out of the gate, I’ve exercised my right to creative license. If you haven’t already, head over to the About Page and you’ll get an inkling as to why I added Learn to this one. You’ll also know why I’m talking about flipping clichés in the first place.

I suspect many of my musings will come in parts. This will be one of them. I’ll tackle Learn in Part Deux sometime, so I added it here as a place holder of sorts.

But Laughter is where I want to start this blog. It is one of life’s greatest gifts. And because it really is among the best of medicines.

I remember the first time I laughed out loud. I mean a real, deep belly laugh. I was a teenager. A TEENAGER. I had this girlfriend – she was beautiful, strong, mysterious, ethereal. And really, really funny. She made joke after joke. They just rolled off her tongue. She laughed. Everyone laughed. I laughed. But I was faking it. Can you imagine? We can all understand faking an orgasm, conceptually at least (am I right?). But laughing? That’s just tragic. I would chuckle along. I knew the jokes were funny, and I found them funny. But I couldn’t FEEL funny.

That first time I belly laughed, a different friend and I were in her bedroom lying on the floor in front of a mirror. My friend shall remain nameless for reasons that will become obvious. We were shoving these little pea sized candies up our noses and blowing them out with such force that they would go shooting across the room. You know, as silly teenage girls will do… We were both “gifted” academically, mind you. The candies were pink and red and orange. I remember because of the disgusting, yet oddly beautiful Wonka colored ribbons of snot flowing down our chins. They were beautiful because I was laughing. In retrospect, it was a super huge, long, giggle fit. But it felt real. And big. And then my friend got one stuck in her nasal cavity. Like way up in there. She tried and tried to get that thing out. Plugging one nostril - snorting and blowing - rolling her head this way and that. Through the giggles, I begged her not to stick her finger in for fear of lodging it further up in there. She didn’t listen, and it was even more stuck. Were we going to have to get her mom? Confess to our childish transgressions? Get rushed the ER? This would be the 1985 teenage girl equivalent to the urban legend of the guy who had to go to the emergency room and admit he’d gotten a rotary phone receiver stuck way up in his bum. Remember that one? Those things were huge and I’m still puzzled by how he got that thing up there. But I digress…

After what felt like eons, she managed to dislodge it. With flair. That thing came flying out of there and went plunk down deep into the shaggy carpet beneath us. And then I CAME. Not to take this orgasm analogy too far, but a BIG, HUGE belly laugh came out of me. God, it felt good! We laughed so hard and so long that my friend peed right there on the carpet beneath us. Not one of those little ones that we women of a certain age experience when we laugh or sneeze now. A big, long piss. Which only made us laugh harder. I was laughing. Truly laughing. That sound coming out from deep inside me was glorious. I laughed so hard that I cried. (I promise, I wasn’t the one that laughed so hard that I peed – as you’ll discover, I have no problems sharing my shortcomings and foibles).

It took some practice, but laughter comes easily to me now. Not nearly often enough, but when something pleases my funny bone, I let one rip. It’s spontaneous and true. No one makes me laugh harder than my kids. Their senses of humor are quite intact, although distinctly different. My 14 year-old can flip me a bird at just the right moment – and he and I get a big kick out of it together knowing how wildly inappropriate it is for this teenager to flip off his mother (in public no less!), but timing and intent are everything to us. Or he’ll take a well-placed jab at my driving skills. A not so well kept secret is that I’ve taken down more than one innocent mailbox. Spatial reasoning is not one of my skills.

My 11 year-old’s sense of humor skews toward the observational. A Christmas or two ago, I told him I was asking Santa for help with three things: (i) my addiction to blanketing our home with houseplants (it takes me over an hour to water them all); (ii) an end to the middle of the night semi-sleep walking and gorging on whatever I can get my hands on (like the night where a trail of spiral pasta shells ran from the kitchen pantry to my bedroom and all I remember was thinking, “this candy tastes like shit”); and (iii) improving my driving skills for the safety of inanimate objects in the neighborhood and so the constant jokes from my other kid would cease.

His response: He slowly turned his head toward me, looked me straight in the eye with one eyebrow raised and then stated in total deadpan, “Well, now THAT would be a true Christmas miracle, wouldn’t it?” Indeed, it would have been.

And then there’s my sister. She has been constant source of support and encouragement in getting this blog up and running. She understood my vision and my purpose. She came to hold my hand when I got stuck in my own head and bogged down by my own insecurities and the logistical issues of building a blog (those stupid Superbowl ads that say it can happen in an hour lie like rugs!). She sat with me for hours getting me jump started and focused.

A few weeks later, I sent her a draft of this post – originally titled Laughter Is The Best Medicine. She read it and texted me her thoughts:

Her: One suggestion – different title. Laughter Is The Best Medicine is overdone and I think you could find something unique like Laughter Can Make You Pee, I Hope You Laugh So Hard You Pee or something along those lines.

Me: Uh, Kell? It’s a cliché…

Now, mind you, she wasn’t trying to be funny, but you know how they say “dance like no one is watching”? I took it to another level and laughed like a crazy person right there in Target. Smack dab in the middle of the bra and panty section.

I’ve had some tough times in recent years. Laughter is one of the things that has gotten me through. I grab hold when it comes and milk it for all I can. Crying can sometimes be just as cathartic as laughing. But I find it hard to just let go and have a good cry. Unless I’m good and mad. Then the tears flow fast and furious. Otherwise, I find crying to be almost as elusive as laughter once was. The candy-coated laughter on my friend’s floor was the good kind of crying. The safe kind of crying, so says my somewhat still distorted subconscious. I’m still working on that one. In the meantime, I’ll continue to laugh as often and as loudly as I can and hopefully one day strike the right balance.

I won’t remember each time I laugh or what it was that made me laugh, but I’ll never forget the first time.

"When you do laugh, open your mouth wide enough for the noise to get out without squealing, throw your head back as though you were going to be shaved, hold onto your false hair with both hands and then laugh till your soul gets thoroughly rested."

                                                   Josh Billings

Sound off in the comments below about one of your own big belly laughs. Spread the laughter! Or, maybe share one of your “good cries”. I know I could use the tips, and maybe someone else out there could too.  

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