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