I sneeze loudly. I clap loudly. I laugh louder than I sneeze and clap. You’d better believe, though, that when I sneeze, clap and laugh, people know it’s me. During Christmas vacation, I was in my hometown Wal-Mart with a friend of mine. (Who wasn’t?) I tend to laugh wildly at my own jokes, so it’s possible that was what the circumstances were. Something had tickled me so tremendously that I had my head tilted backward and one hand bracing my back because it tightens up when I’m laughing hysterically.
All of a sudden, someone is standing next to me, hugging me.
Whoa, creeper Wal-Mart girl, at least ask me before helping yourself to the buffet, right?
Wrong. Turns out, lady hugmeister was a girl I went to junior high school, and whom I had not seen since we graduated from the eighth grade. She heard me laughing. There I was with no idea that my chuckle had such range — she was more than three aisles away from where I was standing. Regardless, she heard me cracking up, somehow knew that it was me and tracked me down using my laughter as a GPS, or maybe WPS — Wal-Mart Positioning System?
The fact that she so easily recognized my laughter after all these years since she’d seen me, let alone heard me laugh, was incredible. Even more extraordinary was that she was so confident with her laugh-recognition — confident enough to follow the sound of my voice. (Wouldn’t it have been awkward if her ears had failed her?)
The entire happening made me laugh even harder while my friend stood there in shock. He didn’t know what was going to happen next. We were in Wal-Mart; enough said.
Although I cannot always help it, I find my laugh to be incredibly bothersome. I laugh, and it causes others to laugh — it isn’t consistently at the most appropriate times. Often, the most unorthodox things cause me to keel over in uncontrollable, riotous laughter, which invites onlookers — mostly my friends — to question my sanity. It’s difficult to tell a story or do a re-enactment (two of my specialties) while you are experiencing a laugh attack, and it’s not rare that it takes away from the objective of explaining what was hilarious in the first place.
My laughter does not make me who I am; it helps other people attempt to figure me out. You can glean a tremendous amount of information from what someone else may deign to chuckle at. Despite my qualms with my laugh and the occasional embarrassment that associates myself with it, I deal with it, and there are positive aspects of having a distinguishably loud, hearty and high-pitched laugh.
Case in point: It gave me great pleasure to discover after watching “Dog Sees God” that a lot of the actors (and audience members for that matter) knew I was there watching and supporting them. I also wound up with a free CD from comedian Rob O’Reilly after his stand-up set on campus. The man had me in tears, and I almost ruined his show — he kept getting sidetracked by laughing at me when I was laughing at him.
There are idiosyncratic qualities that are discoverable in every one of us. It should be commonplace to let those qualities shine through. If not every day, then some percentage of the time because what you may assume is annoying or embarrassing, someone else may enjoy or even absolutely adore you for. Or, as in my case, use as a tool to find you inside of a Wal-Mart. How cool is that?
Septembre Russell can be reached atl email@example.com
Septembre Russell, Copy chief