There are certain people in my life that I know if something happens and they start laughing it’s impossible for me not to laugh. Even without knowing why they are laughing, I start to laugh. Their laughter is contagious, infectious, transmittable. It even makes the thing we are laughing at seem funnier than it actually is.
Getting all dressed up and going to church with my family was always a learning experience. I knew that it came with a bit of risk. You see, Mom had a strict code of conduct for us. I learned the hard way that even the simplest thing like someone opening a candy wrapper at a strange moment would set my sister and I off.
I recall, at one point Mom thought she had found the perfect solution in not allowing us to sit beside each other. It worked at first. Meaning we managed to get through Praise and Worship and even the greetings but that was it! The church went silent. Pastor Smith thoughtfully looked through his Bible. “Let us pray!” Someone rustled in the pew behind us. And, just as everyone bowed their heads to pray and the church went silent for the second time, a sound that was familiar to everyone seeped across every aisle of the church. It even echoed just to be sure it was heard by the whole congregation. Prior experience had taught me that if I looked up now my eyes would meet my mother’s before they landed on my sister so, I didn’t dare look up. I prayed very hard that my eyes wouldn’t open. Now that I think of it even back then I was praying that I could just be mindful enough to just sit and listen to the pastor’s words. I couldn’t…I just couldn’t do it! I decided instead to inch myself forward on the pew. Ever so slowly I turned my head towards my sister and peeked out of one eye. Looking past Mom, I could clearly see that my sister was silently shaking, tears rolling down her face. She was laughing…she had mastered the technique of silently laughing! Mom had no idea and she was sitting right beside her!
I really thought the contagiousness of her laughter wouldn’t reach me since I couldn’t hear it. At that moment, I figured out that even without sound I was not immune to her laughter. Now I had a choice to make. Laugh and be punished or…laugh and be punished. I laughed what I thought was as silent a laugh as my sisters had been. I almost nailed it until the same sound passed through the Church again right at the same moment Pastor Smith paused his prayer midsentence. I couldn’t contain it, I laughed! So, loud that my mom opened her eyes and looked at me. Pastor Smith, having encountered silly children’s laughter before and other familiar sounds cleared his throat and continued praying. Mom looked beside her and realized that my sister was indeed laughing too. By this time, we were practically rolling on the floor! We knew that we couldn’t escape her wrath so we laughed loudly and uncontrollably now. Through our tears, we saw Mom shoot us the familiar look that clearly meant SHUT UP, or SEIZE AND DESIST! Included in the look was a dash of impending parental enforcement! It was usually all it took, but it hadn’t worked this time. The look only confirmed to us that we would be paying for our disrespect when we got home.
So that we wouldn’t disturb the rest of the church goers, Mom used her superhuman strength and picked us both up. She moved so swiftly it was like she was gliding. We stained her emerald green dress with tears of laughter as we were carried out of the church. I then realized other people were laughing too. We were just the only ones that weren’t containing it anymore.
Lesson learned; laugh while you can especially when you know you will be punished for it later. Also, if you have someone in your life whose laughter is contagious acknowledge the power they have over you and never try to ignore it. When you know you will be expected to sit silently for lengthy periods of time sit where you cannot see or hear them. Unless of course, you are overdue for a good laugh!
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