I’m here to talk about my handicap. I was recently chastised so thoroughly for it that I am still hanging my head in shame. I’ve tried to control it, tried to reel it in, tried desperately to hide it, but it keeps surfacing at the most inopportune times.
It’s my daughter, Cricket, who has the biggest problem with it. Several years ago, it overturned the very nature of our relationship and she fully took over the role as adult. When Cricket was 16 and went to get her driver’s license, I dressed accordingly and went along to cheer. While she was testing, I prayed, crossed my fingers, stroked voodoo dolls and sacrificed mental chickens so she would pass. Upon passing, we were ushered into a smaller area where she would have her picture taken. All was going swimmingly until… until… we walked into this small quiet room. Therein lies the problem. Usually a quiet area can pull the chain on my problem. Also solemn circumstances. Or the need to keep still. The woman awaiting us caused such a visual surprise to me that it caused Cricket to whip her head around and glare at me seconds after we walked in. She knows my disability well. It would not be nice to describe this lady, but circus sideshow should give you some kind of hint. Not that there’s anything wrong with the circus, well, except the shameless torture and exhibition of animals, but I digress. This is why Cricket is partly to blame because it signaled the stupid part of my brain to start the code red “do not laugh, do not laugh, do not laugh”. Now, I wouldn’t laugh at somebody normally. I am a super empathetic person to both people and animals. But, if there is something slightly off kilter, say an incongruous wig sitting crookedly upon a head, size 24 women in tank tops made for tweens, toupees of any type, grills on teeth, I start thinking “well, what if I were the type of person who would laugh? How inappropriate would it be? How horrible would it be if I just lost it? “. Then I do.
I came unglued at the DMV in such a spectacular way that I just stood there, unable to speak, tears pouring from my eyes, shoulders shaking, my face beet red, while Cricket pursed her lips and explained to the exasperated woman that I was emotionally and mentally damaged. She then grabbed my arm in a strangling grip, ushered me outside the building and gave me a stern talking to. Strangely, I had a repeat performance at the DMV again with Shep. Maybe they pipe something into the AC unit there.
Last Sunday night, the family went to a Japanese restaurant. Let me say at this time that hearing impairment and speech impediments are not funny. My dad was almost completely deaf. I cannot hear from my right ear due to an injury inflicted upon me by the Goose pulling me behind the boat on a tube. I wore a headgear in kindergarten, now that’s harsh. I’m saying, I’m sympathetic. However, a deaf man, with a lisp and a sibilant “S” should not be the one informing Shep and me about the glories of his sliced seared salmon. I caught Shep’s eye and had to put my head on the table. This elicited such distain and fury from Cricket (who was born a 53 year old woman) that it just got funnier. Apparently, I am impossible to take in public.
Church? Forget about it. Everything is funnier in church. Small things become hilarious. I once took Cricket to a small Southern Baptist church in hopes of hearing some great music. The preacher was unintelligible. There was some floor flopping and some garbled blabbering and anyone should have seen the humor. Not the woman sitting beside me, apparently. Another venue we had to leave, another lecture for me. Church proves to be an especially bad problem because the Goose like to whisper something inappropriate to me and then glare at me when I laugh. I was spanked almost every Sunday after church by my mother for my giggling conduct until my dad realized he could remove me during the sermon under the pretense of my bad behavior but really sneak out for a smoke.
What I’d like to know is how others have conquered the voices in their heads that say things like “oooh, guuurll, don’t dare laugh now! Better not crack that smile! Is that your lips starting to grin like an idiot? What’s the worst thing you could do right now?” Just thinking about it, I am grinning. It has happened in parent teacher conferences (which gives them insight into Sheps issues), it happened yesterday at the doctor’s office when the girl had an impossibly squeaky voice and a walk that would have made Mrs. Wiggins jealous, it happens, horribly, at funerals. Just the sniffles of grief cause my face to crack into an idiotic grin. I laughed so hard once when I got pulled over that I had to take a breathalyzer.
What’s wrong with me? I have no idea. I’m sure there are others with this affliction that has caused me to sit in halls outside classrooms my entire life. I am labeled hopelessly immature by my family and I know they no longer have any respect. My children have inherited my problem by breaking into laughter, along with me, anytime I try to discipline them or tell a serious tale. The Goose no longer trusts me to go to dinner with clients and I spent weeks in disgrace for giggling at his Mother’s funeral. (Those of you who know me…well, better let that one go.)
I am hoping that I just slip gracefully into my dotage, giggling and smiling, surrounded by dogs, friends who laugh and bring wine, and wearing great shoes. I mean, it could be worse, right? LOLZ!