Wednesday, October 18, 2006

There can never be enough said of the virtues, dangers, the power of a shared laugh. ~Françoise Sagan

One in an occasional series. [4/23.]

I finished Marian Keyes Anybody Out There? over the weekend. I stayed up till almost two to finish it Sunday night – at first I thought it wasn’t going to hold me the whole way through, but it did. And it was FUNNY. I was howling reading it while I sat in Starbucks Saturday and ate my lunch. And by the end? Still crying with laughter, alternated with sobbing with sympathy and sadness. I enjoy all of Keyes’ stuff, but this was one of her best. It has its faults but overall, a great, fun read.

Now I am reading Lorna Landvik’s Angry Housewives Eating BonBons which is ok so far – the writing is a bit stilted in places, and I am not sure it can hold me the whole way through, but my God, there are also some funny scenes in this book. There’s a scene in a tree house that I thought was going to make me pee my pants. I have to say, I do not laugh easily – not that sort of laugh-till-you-cry, breathless laughter; maybe my sense of humor is warped or something - but these two books – wow. The funniest book I have EVER read is Caryl Rivers' Virgins (and it also made me sob at the end). The Keyes will go on that Funny Book list, right next to the Rivers. I’ll have to finish Housewives before I decide if it also deserves that distinction.


Hard to believe, but I didn’t exactly mesh in my junior high class. I was friends with sort of everyone – the jocks, the girly-girls, the rebels - but not best buddies with anyone. Until Kristin came along.

Because our high school was so small, Kristin and I were in practically every class together except homeroom – our surnames were on opposite ends of the alphabet – and band – she played flute and I played nothing. But she slogged alongside me running laps in gym class, and thrashing out problems in calculus, and dissecting frogs in bio. We were on student council together. We both were involved in drama – I on the tech side of things and she on stage. She dated another student – a tall, skinny boy with bad skin named Peter, who was hilariously funny and insanely smart and very sarcastic, and wanted to be a lawyer. And they were part of the group that organically formed around the drama productions and finally found me my high school niche – Kris and Peter, who are married now and have at least one little boy; Kevin and his girlfriend, the annoyingly perky but smart Nancy; Joe, a short little Egyptian guy who grew tall and gorgeous AND became a doctor to boot (he and I still exchange Christmas cards); the “other” Val, who had a predilection for dating boys much stupider than she.

Kris, a transplant from somewhere in Texas, showed up in seventh grade, and I felt like she’d been around forever. She was so smart – scary smart. She was alarmingly down-to-earth and very practical but she was funny, too. In fact, what I remember most about my friendship with Kris is laughter – breathless, helpless, hiccupping laughter, routinely, every day, pretty much all day. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was that we laughed at, but God, how we laughed. And laughing out loud like I did in the Starbucks on Saturday made me think of Kristin, who for Christmas one year gave me this box, filled with potpourri.

I have no idea if she stenciled the box herself, or made the potpourri; I just remember this box. I am sure she wrote a funny note with it, something witty that made me snort with laughter.

God, when was the last time any of us laughed like that? Occasionally Gina and I do; Blackbird and I did, in Bethlehem; but never as routinely as Kristin and I did, all through high school, pretty much all day, pretty much everyday (much to the chagrin of many of our teachers, especially Mr Schwartz our chem teacher. I am sure we two were the very bane of that man’s existence. As if his malformed ear and stutter and deplorable taste in clothes weren’t enough to make his life hard…)

It’s a tonic just thinking about it. (The laughing, NOT Mr Schwartz!)

(In fact, I feel an eensy weensy bit *ashamed* when I think of Mr. Schwartz, so that's gotta mean I am not wholly irredeemable, right?)


Gina said...

I still laugh as hard, but not as often. And I know I appreciate the laughing more now than I used to . . . maybe it all evens out?

Crankyputz said...

I liked Anybody out there too....Great book, inspite of the cheesy girly genre....Do try the Poison Wood Barbara Kingsolver, CP

Anonymous said...

What is it with kids misbehaving in science class? My friend Jason and I used to laugh until we turned purple in physics.

That's probably why I don't know much about physics. Huh.

Lynne@Oberon said...

I had a friend in high school and we used to think it was the MOST hilarious thing to talk with bad French accents. All we had to do is look at each other and our shoulders would start heaving with laughter. And a simple "oui" would send us completely over the edge. She is a press officer for a member of parliament now and no, she's not as funny.

Gina said...

I went to high school with my ex-husband (although we were just friends then), and Chemistry was one of our funniest classes. We sat together at a lab table, and passed notes back and forth inside our shared lab book. Once, he of the bad handwriting jammed the words "so" and "what" together, asking "So what?" I wrote back, "SOW HAT??" To this day, divorced and all, "sow hat" still makes us laugh.

Who knew high school science classes were so universally comic gold?

Kathy said...

I only ever laugh that hard with my best friend from high school who is still my best friend. It's hard to make me laugh -- people are always saying things to me like "You should smile more" and making me want to punch them instead of smile.

Angry Housewives wasn't bad -- for me there was just something vaguely disappointing about it that I can't really put my finger on.

Rogue Librarian said...

I can think of practically every occasion in the last few years that I’ve laughed that hard, which probably shows how infrequent it is. A few times it was laughing to keep from crying too, so it’s even rarer.
I think the problem for me is that I’ve lost my humor about the silly things. I still find silly stuff funny, but not gut busting laughter funny. Alternatively, it’s because I don’t have any high school chemistry class anymore. Those things are freak’in designed for goofy behavior.

BabelBabe said...

ok, sow hat made ME laugh. but what the fuck do I know, I am drunk.

Jess said...

I once almost got kicked out of a high school religion class for laughing uncontrollably. But college was probably the peak - or rather, my college roommates. It's still dangerous for us all to go out in public together. Two friends have laughs you could recognize across the dining hall.