*Reader be warned: This post includes inadvertently inappropriate language.
Reader’s Digest marketed the old expression, “Laughter is the best medicine”. We used to have a stack of old Reader’s Digests in our house in Pakistan. I remember flipping first to the Laughter is the Best Medicine page. We’d read them out loud to each other and we’d laugh and laugh.
I’ve known laughter to diffuse cultural blunders, language mistakes, awkward situations. I’ve seen the elderly and young children distracted from pain through laughter. I’ve watched a case of the giggles remove fear. I’ve been a part of circles of friends who’s hearts are knit together through their shared sorrows and their deep laughter.
On Saturday last, Lowell and I proved, that laughter has the power to defuse a miserable marriage moment!
We were having a pretty intense conversation. How do we respond when our memory of a particular event is different than another person’s memory of the same event? Lowell thought I was too quick to exert my own “rightness” –He felt that I may be too forceful in establishing that I remember things accurately. We were not arguing but the conversation was certainly pockmarked with some pain. It was not a pleasant exchange.
In the middle of it I turned to Lowell and said, “I feel like I’m patient.” His response was quick and registered all over his face! He looked at me disbelievingly and with a little anger. In an elevated tone he retorted, “Really?! That’s what you’re going to say right now?” I, in turn, was a little off put by his expression and his harsh response, “Why does that make you so incredulous? Why are you responding like that?”
He looked me full in the face, still not understanding why I would declare that, in the midst of this conversation. Pausing, to measure his words, he said,
“You feel like pig-shit?”
“That’s what you heard?” the beginnings of a smile twitching on my lips, “I said I feel I’m patient! Not ‘pig shit!’!”
No wonder he’d been so incredulous!
We both threw back our heads and laughed hard. The intensity of the conversation was passed. We laughed long and with great relief. Our faces turned red and a few happy tears squeezed through our scrunched up faces. Humour had saved the day.
The moment keeps returning to me and I find myself bursting out laughing! On Thursday I was attending Adelaide’s Parent-Teacher Conferences. I was waiting to speak to one of her teachers. The parent ahead of me was taking a very long time. I tapped my toes. I tried to guess what others teachers in the room taught based on their names. I tried to organize my shopping list in my head. I thought through the weekend ahead. At one point I said to myself, “Normally, I feel like I’m pig shit…I mean patient!” A huge smile burst out on my face and I burst out laughing out loud. Surprised by the noise of my own laughter, I quickly covered my mouth with my hand.
A little humour had once again served as a big diffuser.