When I was young it was always a problem if I sat next to my brothers in church. I don’t know why we couldn’t behave or how it even started, we just couldn’t keep it together. We didn’t cause a big ruckus or fidget or fight. We would just get the giggles. Then the giggles would turn into that uncontrollable internal laugh that makes you feel like your lungs are going to explode from trying to hold it in. Everyone recognizes that scenario when you see some little kid’s face turning beet red, eyes bugging out and forehead beading up with sweat. Somehow, that physical reaction makes it even funnier. Eventually, we would get “the look” from Mom, which meant “CUT IT OUT” and that would make us giggle even more.
I knew that it was inappropriate to be laughing in church. I also believe that it’s human nature to laugh when you shouldn’t. I once slipped and fell in a parking lot after a hard day at work. My tote bag went flying, handbag dumped upside down, Tic Tac and Tampax scattered on the pavement and I laughed so hard that I couldn’t get up. I wasn’t kidding when I told the people walking with me, “This is the best I’ve felt all day!” It really was. I knew my butt would have a huge bruise the next day, and I was positive that my chiropractor would have crack me back into shape, but the laughter was momentarily euphoric.
So, I guess it’s no surprise that I laugh in church. Where this began, I can’t remember, but there is a certain response during a Catholic Mass which is not at all funny or provoking in any way. As kids, our voices would harmonize the response and that alone would make each other laugh. To this day, I just know that if we come together at a family event and are close enough to hear the others say the words aloud during Mass, we will either smile, quietly giggle or look at each other with a glint, acknowledging the hysterics of our youth. Happy occasion or sad – at weddings, funerals and other solemn ceremonies, the laugh could come at any time. We’re now in our fifties. I don’t think it’s going to pass!
So, I’ve done my due diligence for the day. I’ve explored my deep dark past and come to the conclusion that for no reason whatsoever, I find humor in the inappropriate. Whether it comes by choice or by instinct, nature or nurture, so to speak, doesn’t matter. Analysis of humor is the fastest way to make it NOT funny, so I’m not risking it. Instead, I just do what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to laugh in church.
That being said, I just learned that a woman I care about has breast cancer. Steven has been giving me statistics on survival rates, cure percentages and treatment options. I want to pass all that along, really I do. But I’m hesitant about my ability to avoid going off scrip for a moment where I’ll say, “Breast cancer? Oh, that’s getting really popular. A lot of celebrities get that. It’s really “in”. Looks like you’re an A-lister.” Seriously, I could say that…not in a bad way.
I want to help, to lighten the mood, to cheer things up…to fix it. I don’t want to make anyone feel worse! So would it be better or worse pointing out that breast cancer also gets you get races and rallies, buttons and bows and hats and T-shirts? It’s the carnival of cancers. With those thoughts, I’d be only seconds away from saying, “Wow, you’re lucky.” I can almost hear the church choir, smell the incense and feel my mother’s glare.
Nevertheless, I’m compelled to do what I have to do. I’m sure there are millions of patient advocates out there who think I’m incorrigable and sacrilegious. They are all people who just don’t “get” me. I’m OK with that. I don’t expect everyone to drink my slapstick Kool-Aid. Heck, there are people in my own family who don’t “get” me. For those who do, I believe that they know that I have the best intentions. I want to lighten the mood to make the bad stuff better. I want to make you laugh so you have a little relief from the serious side of life. Sometimes I think of myself as a verbal tin foil hat that keeps the aliens away. In my own little way, I’m Mother Freakin” Teresa in Groucho glasses and nose…wearing a tin foil hat…in church…flapping my elbow making armpit farts!
By the way…if YOU just laughed, is it really me who’s inappropriate? Kool-Aid anyone?