Laughter for worse and better
December 28, 2016 - 0 comments
Back in the fall of 1973, Life in the Boomer Lane met Miki, a fellow special ed. teacher. Miki was tall. Her legs started at her ankles and ended at LBL’s neck. Her life experiences were as different from LBL’s as could possibly be. There were a lot of reasons why they connected. But the glue that cemented their friendship was a quirky, irreverent sense of humour that had other people shaking their heads in bewilderment.
The summer after their year of teaching together, they hit the road for a trip to Florida. LBL stayed with another teacher. Miki stayed with someone far more sexually exciting. One evening, the two went to a restaurant for dinner. During the meal, there was a sudden blast of mechanical laughter. Had it been now, LBL would have assumed that Miki had chosen an obnoxious cell ringtone. But in that pre-cell era, she was merely mystified. The laughter was deafening and wouldn’t stop.
Miki got a stricken look on her face and started fumbling around in her oversize purse. After a while, she extracted a small laugh machine that she had purchased the day before, at Disney World. Miki quickly turned the machine off. The two looked at each other, with exactly the same thought in mind. That night, around 2 a.m., Miki showed up at the apartment complex where LBL was staying. LBL jumped into the car and the two of them drove around the complex with the car windows down and the laugh machine on at full volume. Incredibly, no one called the police. As LBL wiped the tears from her face, all she could think was, “I’m a married woman. I’m a teacher responsible for young children. I’m in my late 20s, an adult by any standard. I am a sane, responsible person. This is really embarrassing, and I hope I never stop doing things like this.”
Eventually, Miki succumbed to tradition. She got married, and she had a daughter. When her daughter was about four years old, Miki was diagnosed with breast cancer. For five years, she fought the disease. During that time, she and LBL attended a clothing sale to benefit breast cancer research. LBL and Miki dutifully waited for the event to open, along with the others.
The event and the meaning behind it was overwhelming. LBL and Miki needed an emotional break. It didn’t take long before one of them said something funny to the other, most likely about death or dying. Because of the circumstances, because Miki was fighting for her life, whatever was said became the funniest thing the other had ever heard. Within a couple minutes, they both dropped to the floor, clutching themselves. This made LBL and Miki laugh even harder. The other women waiting looked on in horror.
Shortly after receiving her five-year all clear from the doctors, Miki developed cancer in her other breast. The decline, this time, was swift. A couple days before her 47th birthday, she died. Her daughter was 10-years old.
It’s tough for LBL to be sad when she thinks of Miki. There was entirely too much laughter and too much glorious mayhem that characterized their friendship. Of course, there was a serious side and the knowledge that each could tell the other anything and it would be all right. But it’s the laughter that still rings in LBL’s ears. And, as though it were delivered in the form of a laugh machine, it arrives unbidden and at the worst of times, usually when LBL is trying to be an adult in some kind of difficult situation.
She believes it is Miki, reminding her that life is far too short to be taken so seriously. At those times, she stops trying to be an adult and finds something absurd in the situation to mentally laugh about. She falls to the floor of her mind, clutches herself, and imagines Miki right there with her. She then gets through whatever it is that had been giving her such anguish only a moment before.