The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

25 November 2008


Have you ever laughed so hard your abs ached? I hope you have. It means you have a sense of humour, which is, sadly, the overlooked sense. The best laughter is when you have the ability to let go of all reserve, to completely trust the person you're with, letting mirth and glee burst out of you... even when the cause makes no sense at all. Maybe you can't explain it to someone else; maybe you can't remember why you're laughing in the first place. It never works second-hand, so try to be in on it from the start.

My dad has a wonderful sense of humour. He's an intelligent man, vastly entertained by the silliness of silly people. He loves to share 'the latest' from his store of 'guess what they've done now' stories, usually involving engineers, or politicians. We've come to recognize the signs: the little head waggle, the finger tapping on the table top...his way of preparing us for a good one.

He is amused by my sister and I: we riff off each other, and have routines and dialogues going back to the dawn of time. Mostly I think he is amused by how amusing we find ourselves. Mom, too, tickles his funny bone. He doesn't quite understand why, when you find a rock or a twig while on a walk, you bring it home...but after 40 years he's learned to accept it, and see the humour in it.

These things inspire a quiet chuckle, or amused disbelief: signs of an agile mind and quick wit. Real ab-aching laughter though, comes when he's watching Laurel and Hardy. When Stan stumbles, bemused, into some catastrophe, and Ollie, exasperated, has to set things to rights, the occasional chuckles become steady chuckles, becoming almost giggle-like and then tears actually fall. I love the sound he makes when it almost gets too much for him and he can barely contain it. At that point, I don't even know why I'm laughing anymore, I'm just joining in his delight, and enjoying being in on it with him.

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