Monday, December 12, 2011

Something That Made Me Laugh Until I Cried - 12/12/2011

My response to this week's writing group prompt, "Something That Made Me Laugh Until I Cried."

Evidently, weddings are sort of a big deal. Up until couples started staging their events for YouTube, the ceremony tended to be serious and solemn. The binge drinking and antics of embarrassing friends and family were reserved for the reception. Weddings tend to be particularly stately and dignified in the south, where I live, making the episode that I am recounting here even more ridiculous.

My sons, Rick and Josh, graduated from Catawba College, near Charlotte, North Carolina. One of their dormitory suite-mates and best friends was Jamie Gillis from Fayetteville. Through them, I came to know Jamie and as a result was invited to his wedding some years after they graduated. The wedding was held in Salisbury, in the Catawba College chapel.

On the rare occasions that I have been inside a church I like to be close to the exit in case a fire and brimstone situation develops. On this day, I took my usual place in the back of the chapel, far from where Jesus hung out above the altar.

The bride (I have forgotten her name) had already shot past me heading for the alter and my son Josh had still not arrived. Somewhere between "speak now or forever hold your peace" and "sickness and in health" Josh took a seat next to me in the pew. With my eyes, I silently questioned why he was so late. He didn't say a word just opened his jacket. There was a perfect imprint of an iron seared onto the front of his shirt.
At this time it is important for the reader to be made aware that I do not possess an inside voice. For some reason I was blessed or cursed with a very powerful, monotone, speaking voice without benefit of modulation or restraint. Any attempt on my part to whisper generally results in a volume level not much different from my normal speaking voice. Sometimes, I am told, my private voice actually resonates more than my regular speech. That was a problem for me in school, as confidential communique murmured to the person in the desk next to me often reached the teacher's desk full voice. Also, on this particular day, the acoustics of a church amplified that which was already too loud. I believe that design is intended to keep parishioners conscious.

I began to laugh. It was not a chuckle or a snicker. It was a full-fledged guffaw. My amusement triggered laughs from my sons. While their laughter was somewhat courteously subdued, compared to mine, they exceeded the acceptable decibel limit for a church service. I could not stop. The more I tried to control myself, the harder I would laugh. Just when it seemed I had gotten my mirth managed, Josh would again flash his shirt at me.

Soon, everyone in the minster, including the wedding party, was looking back at us. It was not Christian charity reflected on their "shut the fuck up" faces. They take their church ceremonies seriously here in the Bible Belt and any joyful noise must be sanctioned by the congregation and approved by the church council. Just before it seemed we would be ushered out, I managed to regain some command of my emotions and display a modicum of dignity. It is a good thing, because I could not have walked on my own power. I would have had to genuflect to the parking lot.
I never actually stopped giggling, I just was able to confine the sound to my own general area by burying my face in a hymnbook. Tears, drool, and snot will probably prevent any future back pew believer from opening to hymn 234. That page is most likely sealed forever.

I am certain this was the hardest I have ever laughed in my life. At least at something appropriate to discuss in this venue.


Roger Yale said...

No inside voice? You? No way! Oh wait - remember the "Who are those douches" incident?

Nadja said...

Hahahaha! That's pretty darn funny!

Anonymous said...

Oh I had forgotten that story. Hilarious! Good choice! Love ya! Carly