"You don't laugh."
"What do you mean?"
"You don't laugh. No one in your family laughs."
This is a conversation from early in my marriage. I was probably twenty or twenty-one and had never been told this before. Suddenly my husband was telling me that I don't laugh.
I do not know how the conversation got there, but I believe we were watching a funny movie or tv show. My husband had been laughing throughout. He'd look at me when I didn't laugh and ask, "Didn't you think that was funny?" I'd answer that I did. "Then why didn't you laugh?" he'd ask. "I didn't think it was THAT funny." I'd respond.
This had happened may times in the past. I guess this was the day it finally dawned on him that I don't laugh.
Now, I could argue this point. I went through a giggly phase in junior high and high school. I've been known to have 2:00am laughing attacks. I laugh.
But his observation made me curious. Always one to examine my own nature, I chose to see if there was some validity in what he said.
And I found that when it comes to laughing, he and I are very different. He's like a kid. He laughs at everything that is even a little bit funny. And I am much more conservative in my laughter. Most things that are just a little funny get a smile from me, but not an actual laugh. And I am not good at giving a pity laugh either.
I have spent some time pondering what makes people laugh and why it is so different for each of us.
Picture a baby. Peek-a-boo or a sudden funny sound can elicit rolling giggles. As long as all is well otherwise, babies are an easy laugh.
Or a young child. A simple potty joke or the oldest jokes in the book can have them laughing for hours, retelling the jokes to anyone who will listen.
And as we get older, I believe that our sense of humor evolves. The things we used to find funny really aren't so much anymore.
Some people like slapstick. Not me. It just looks painful.
Some people like stupid humor, like in so many of the movies of the day. Not me. They're just stupid.
I like clever humor. I like the joke with the punchline that I don't see coming. I like it when someone does something silly that is totally out of character for that person. I like jokes that don't make sense because they aren't meant to. I like macabre humor.
And sometimes it's just that the planets have aligned and in that moment at that time that thing is funny to me. There is no rhyme or reason.
So as you ponder what makes you laugh and why, I leave you with one of my current favorite jokes:
Q: What is green and invisible?
A: This cabbage (holding out cupped, empty hands)