Saturday, August 9, 2008

Inappropriate Laughter

I've had a problem with this my whole life. I've laughed at every inappropriate situation you can think of. It doesn't take much to set me off, but it takes every fiber of my being to reign the laughter back in once it starts. I usually fail.

I'm going to give you an example in an attempt to explain how my mind works--then maybe you won't think I'm such a jerk if I ever do this during one of your serious moments.

So last Sunday, during testimony meeting, a string of children got up to bear their testimony.

It's cute when they do that, huh?

Normally, yeah. But I'm talking dozens of children. They each recited the same few lines--you know the ones--with the same sing-song inflection. Oh, to be a child, and not be expected to come up with anything original. A few adults got in there at the beginning, breaking up the rhythm, but after that, the kids just sort of swarmed to the stage, completely taking over the meeting like Children of the Corn or something.

I was sitting on my pew, spacing-out, barely hearing the voices that my brain was instinctively defusing, when, suddenly, a queer little voice came through the speakers. It was high-pitched, and it cracked like Bobcat from the Police academy movies, yet it was breathy and soft.

My eyes immediately shot up to the podium. No one was there, but the odd voice was still coming through the speakers. Alarmed, I sat up straighter and that's when I spotted the top of a head and realized that a very small child was at the podium.

Satisfied that I wasn't going crazy or anything, I kind of settled back into my slumped position. The strange high-pitched voice continued to recite the standard testimony, and I couldn't help but giggle at the sound of it.

It reminded me of something, I realized. What did it remind me of? That's it! A faerie! It sounded like a faerie was bearing its testimony.

That's funny, I thought. A faerie bearing its testimony? I giggled.

I glanced back at the podium, and it still looked like no one was there, though the faerie continued to bear its testimony.

It was hovering at the microphone in mid-flight, I imagined.

I giggled at that.

Then the whole image came together vividly in my mind: a faerie, hovering at the microphone, bearing its testimony, the congregation listening...

And that's when I laughed out loud. I got a few over-the-shoulder questioning looks, and immediately tried to reign in my laughter. But as hard as I tried, I couldn't get the image of a faerie bearing its testimony out of my head. My shoulders started shaking violently with barely suppressed laughter.

Anthony gave me an inquiring look, and leaned down to meet my whisper. I managed to sputter out the words "faerie" and "bear testimony," but that refreshed the whole image in my mind, and the laughter burst free again.

He whispered back, "I don't get it," and that made it even worse. Now I was picturing an entire congregation who saw nothing wrong with a faerie floating up the isle, hovering before the microphone, and bearing it's testimony.

My whole body was shaking now, my stomach tight and aching, as I attempted to hold it all in. Anthony wrapped his arm around my shoulders, to both help me calm down, and mask my inappropriate laughter. I tried to think of something sad, and every so often, it would work and I would relax, but I was quite aware that I was only trying to fool myself into calming down, and within seconds, that faerie bearing its testimony would pop back into my head and the laughter would come back with a vengeance.

My body was racked with suppressed laughter, my stomach aching. I buried my head in Anthony's shoulder and braced my hand on my forehead, shielding my eyes, because the tears were pouring down my face.

This continued over a 15 minute period. The faerie had long since floated off the stage, but I couldn't stop laughing about it. I could feel eyes on me. I didn't know if people knew I was laughing, or if they thought I was crying hysterically. Both things look the same on me. Anthony was patiently rubbing my arm and shoulder and leaning down to whisper encouraging words to me, which probably indicated the latter. Each time I'd calm down, he'd lean down and whisper something like, "You OK?" and that would be enough to bring back the laughter.

I finally admitted to him that I wasn't OK, I was not going to be able to get this under control and I needed to leave. I only needed to calm down long enough to stand up and walk out. I took a deep breath, cleared my mind, wiped my eyes, and relaxed my stomach muscles.

I caught more than a few stares when I stood and sidestepped past Anthony. I could feel the laughter bubbling up again, my shoulders started to shake, my stomach started to tighten, the tears blurred my vision. But I was already invested in the exit. I covered my mouth and sort of jogged out of the chapel.

My goal was to hold it in until I made it all the way outside, but when I burst into the foyer, the body-racking hysterical laughter burst out of me. A few parents were in the foyer with their toddlers and babies, visiting with each other. They stopped when I burst into the foyer. We locked eyes, and for a half-second I thought, Maybe these people would understand if I just explained about faerie, but I couldn't calm down enough to say anything, which was probably for the best. Still laughing, I speed-walked to the exit.

I waited outside by the car for the meeting to end (our sacrament meeting is last), laughing uncontrollably.

Is this normal? Do you do this kind of thing? And was I justified in laughing about a faerie bearing its testimony? I mean, REALLY think about it.


Amanda said...

Oh Jenny! I've had the same experiences. Except mine have happened in even worse cases. Like while being given a blessing or something. I completely know what you are talking about.
I use to use the standard "think about Grandma dying" to calm myself down. What is your sad thought? Me dying?

Memzy said...

Inappropriate laughter is

1). what makes the world go round

B). incredibly unexplainable to anyoe else but you or whoever caught it with you.

Orange). The worst thing to get when in a church meeting.

Of course you knew all of these things already. I'm just hoping that someone asks you about it this sunday at church so you can explain the fairy and start giggling again.

Emily said...

I'm the queen of inappropriate laughter. I think I've offended quite a few people that way. Thanks for the funny story!

Cristin said...

I LOVE inappropriate laughter, especially if someone else starts it. My favorite was when our family had to sit on the very front row of church and right during sacrament, I noticed an old guy asleep and the poor kid was trying to wake him up and well...i'm sure you can imagine. It was physically painful to hold in the tears and laughter but my abs got a really good workout. My favorite is also when you think you have it under control when all of a sudden, the idea pops back in your head. hahahahahahahahaha ha

michelle said...

Jenny, what about the other night when you said you had not slept well because you were laughing in your sleep?? You just might be crazy...:) LOL - (no pun intended)

samandlysander said...

Yeah I tend to laugh at unappropriated things too. Sometimes you just can't help it. Oh and I have to say I love your taste in music. Lysander and I saw the Arcade Fire in concert and it was pretty amazing.

Erin Beck said...

It is very normal..its times like these when you need to be holding a baby in your arms so it looks like you are laughing at it...rememmber the beautiful doll in chains lesson in reief society many years back?

Markie23 said...

During the opening exercises of the Olympics as the Chinese were singing their national anthem, I started imagining they were singing about Kung Pao Chicken, and Sweet & Sour Pork, and I started cracking up and I couldn't stop. Cherie just looked at me and rolled her eyes (she has seen this type of behavior many times before).

Sam, Shel & Co said...

I remember once when my best friend was the RS Pres and I was her counselor....sitting up in front of the entire RS and we got the giggles about something...can't remember what...I just remember both of us laughing so hard through the opening song that our eyes were watering. And everyone in RS wondering what was so funny. Some lady came up to me afterward and said I should "cheer up", though.

Katie or Tom said...

Worse than the one with the fairy vision, is sitting next to the one with the vision, and having to laugh awkwardly like you know what is going on...