I laugh like a donkey. There is nothing dignified or lovely about the way I guffaw. My face contorts like a scorched plastic beer cup in a campfire, my eyes water, my lips pull back from my teeth, my nose runs, and strange sounds erupt with every boisterous barnyard outburst. Still, it feels good and the experience is SO much better than stabbing someone with a fork.
Babies are born with the ability to laugh and they make their first tiny chuckles when they’re around four months old. Normal, mature adults reduce themselves to exaggerated clowns when trying to cause a baby to giggle. It’s grand fun for everyone, unless the adult is driving on the freeway or participating in an important conference call. Way too soon the darling cherubs grow into teenagers and the delightful expressions are replaced with bored aloofness, rolled eyes, and exasperated retorts. And, the teens are just as bad.
As a professional people-watcher, I’ve noticed that there is a huge laughter deficit depressing the country. The only hilarious sounds of glee come from kids (without electronics) on the playground or from drunks whose Happy Hour was extended to closing time. The nightly news only confirms my observations: people are distraught and need counseling because one of the main characters died on “The Good Wife” television show or mad enough to sue because they fell down on an icy sidewalk – during a blizzard.
Many of my middle-aged friends are weary of miserable people whining because they are offended, outraged, or inconvenienced. We’ve lived through enough decades to know that life isn’t fair but it’s still wonderful and, given the choice, we’d rather eat, drink, and be merry with a dedicated optimist than wallow in the muck with Sadsack Suzy and her sorry friend Woe-is-Me. We’re ever-ready to help someone through the bad times, but we’re convinced that someday we’ll share a belly laugh again. Pinky promise.
This week the family adults gathered to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Of course, we met at a local wine bar to make merry, cause mayhem, and support the local economy. The evening quickly turned into a sophomoric party as we took photographs in various poses to show our true irreverent and uninhibited personalities. The resulting photos proved why no children were allowed and why the young parents were grateful that their babysitters could sit through multiple showings of the newly released DVD of Disney’s movie Frozen. We had a few hours of free time without the song “Let it Go” playing a nonstop loop through our brains.
As we looked at the cell phone photos of our spontaneous, immature actions, we broke onto convulsive howls of laughter followed by uncontrolled fits of giggles. Yes, we were silly. And, yes, we loved it. And I didn’t give a rip that once again I looked and sounded like a demented donkey. With the grand occasion of my daughter’s birthday, I can count more than three decades that my children have made me laugh. And that is reason enough to toss back the head and let it go…