Wednesday, September 8, 2010
OD on the Best Medicine
There's nothing better than a good right-from-the-toes laugh. I've heard it referred to as internal jogging and I'm sure it's one of the greatest blessings in the Universe.
Sometimes something happens that's 80% serious, 18% neutral and 2% funny. 97% of the times that happens to me, I get stuck on the 2% funny. I just can't help it. Usually, it's a good thing I think. It's just healthier to laugh than it is to cry. Usually.
There are situations - funerals come to mind - during which it's frowned upon to find and focus on the funny bits. And the really outrageous thing about laughing during times like that is that realizing it while I'm doing it is inescapably hilarious.
I'll share an example. A couple of days ago I burned my wrist during an ironing accident. Let this be a lesson, boys and girls, be well-insured before attempting laundry. Anyway, since I'm very light skinned, looking at me wrong causes scarring. This unfortunate ironing burn will definitely scar. So today at work I was washing my hands when it occurred to me that it's going to look exactly like a suicide attempt scar and I immediately pictured myself saying to an as yet unknown client,
"You call that a cut? This is a cut!"
Of course I would never say that to a client. Well, not unless it was my unplanned last day of work. But you see, now that demon seed is planted and writing about it here is probably fertilizing the damned thing. So the next time I check someones wrists for cutting scars you know I'm going to have to fight the urge to laugh. It will have nothing to do with the client, but there would be absoflippinlutely no way to convince anyone of that. By the time I explained the whole thing, the 50 minutes would be up and. . . well, it just wouldn't be a good idea.
To make matters even worse, as I was walking out of the ladies room, laughing out loud over the mental picture of me clobbering someones ailing self image while simultaneously ending my career, I ran smack into the executive director of the clinic. I said, "No, really, I'm OK." Duh.
Of course there are those poor souls who focus on the 18% neutral in nearly every situation. The clinical term for those peeps is boring. I work with one of those. That guy goes through the halls - and evidently through life - with absolutely no expression. And he's not one of those funny, funny folk (often Brits) who see humor in most things and make you laugh and always do it with a totally straight face. No, the guy I work with is humorless. Passionless. If he were a color he'd be landlord beige. If he were a flavor he'd be water. Not refreshingly cool or tea-brewing hot or bracingly cold or carbonated. He'd be room temperature tap water. Probably full of unseen toxins.
Then there are those people who tend to focus on the serious bits of life. Some go beyond that and focus on the terrifying. Those people are often called great artists. They tend to exhaust me, but I think if I had to choose between being bored to death or being terrified to death I'd choose the latter. Of course, I'd probably find something sidesplitting about dying.
So I reckon the best I can do is perfect my laughter covering techniques. There's the -cover-your-face-and-pretend-you're-grieving technique, which is useful at funerals or when your adolescent son is being questioned by police about some absolutely gorgeous painting on the side of a building.
The excuse-me-I-have-to-pee/make an emergency phone call/heard myself being paged can work if you practice it enough and are in a situation where you have some flexibility. For situations in which removing yourself is very difficult, you really should become proficient at the tried and true cough/sneeze/choke technique. Save the feigned seizure for a dire emergency. It probably won't work more than one time, so don't waste it.
Probably the best thing to do is share the belly shake. If you're lucky enough to be blessed with a naturally funny laugh, you're 90% there. I have am fortunate to be a snorter. I know others who have the little scream laugh, which is also very contagious. Personally, I enjoy a good wheeze laugher, too. I always think, "Well, he's either dying or found something really, really funny." I'm often concerned that I will laugh along with someone for a good couple of minutes then figure out I need to start CPR. Funny, eh?