“This is what daddy sounds like when he laughs.”

I don’t want to suggest that my kids have never heard me laugh. They have. In fact, I laugh quite often, in my own little way. I shake my head and chuckle. I occasionally allow a guffaw to escape. I don’t think that my son and daughter have ever had the occasion to hear me laugh uncontrollably, though. They’ve never seen me have to hold on to a table to keep from falling to the floor in a fit of laughter. They’ve never seen me laugh so hard that I have to gasp for air just to remain conscious. My hope is that one day they will. I think it’s probably a good thing for a kid to see their parent lose control like that.

Something very similar crossed my mind a few days ago when we put down Freeda. I was sobbing my eyes out and it occurred to me that Clementine was watching me. I thought, “It’s probably good that she’s seeing this.” For what it’s worth, I still remember the first time I saw my father cry. We were visiting his family in Kentucky, and he’d gone out to play basketball with some of his childhood friends, while I stayed around the house, talking with his mother and grandmother. His grandmother, at some point in the conversation, left the small kitchen table where we’d been sitting, saying that she wasn’t feeling well. When she returned just a few minutes later, it was clear that something terrible was happening, and we called an ambulance. By the time father returned, she’d been pronounced dead. And I remember him trying to talk to me, but not being able to. It was, of course, a terribly sad time for our family, but it was also kind of beautiful in a strange way to see how much she’d meant to my father, who was always somewhat stoic.

Back to laughter, though… I know it’s probably a poor substitute for the real thing, but it was just brought to my attention a few moments ago that audio exists of me in the grips of a laughing fit. It was taped this past winter when my friends and I gathered in Cleveland to document our 21st day as a band. So I thought that I’d share it here, in hopes that one day, if they never have an opportunity to hear what the real thing sounds like in person, Clementine and Arlo can at least know what I sounded like when I really, really laughed.

I’m told I was reacting to lyrics written by my friend Dan for a song he called “Get in the Van.” Apparently, I thought they were hilariously funny. [These lyrics, it should be noted, were not intended to be hilariously funny by the song’s author.]

For what it’s worth, I rarely laugh like this, and, to my knowledge, this is the only such instance caught on tape. I have a relatively clear recollection of it happening once in about the 11th grade, as a few of us gathered around a table in the Newton High School library, but, other than that, no specific memories come to mind. [I do, however, have a vague recollection of it happening a few times when I lived in Los Angeles, in close proximity to my friend Jeff Kay, but no specifics come to mind.] My guess, and I could well be wrong, is that such events happen about once every three or four years or so for me now… instances where I’m laughing so hard that I can’t speak and almost lose consciousness.

I know it’s kind of late in the year for resolutions, but I’d like more moments like this in my life, more near-death laughing fits. And I’d like for my kids to hear one of these happen in person. Hopefully 2016 is the year.

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11 Comments

  1. XXX
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Nothing beats laughing till you puke.

  2. Jim Cherewick
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Something besides scream crying uncontrollably.

  3. Christine Moellering
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I love that because it’s true when your parents are gone you treasure all the sounds you can find from them.

  4. Dylan Beckwith
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    That was great.

  5. Bekah Wallace
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    This made my day.

  6. Marcia Peterson Buckie
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I can totally relate. My daughter (Clems age) did not believe my oldest friend that I was funny and silly. EVER.

  7. grandma
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Next time we’re together I want to hear that. Didn’t know you had it in you!! But glad you do!

  8. Lotus Ginkgo
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Mark, you should never feel alone in this. I have a very silly-sounding laugh that reminds me of the way my paternal grandfather laughed. Neither of my parents laughed like this, so the affliction has apparently skipped a generation. I stand with you in solidarity, my friend. We should form a support group.

  9. anonymous
    Posted March 23, 2016 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Since reading this, I cannot stop singing “this is what it sounds like when Mark laughs” to the tune of “this is what it sounds like when doves cry.”

  10. Chelsea
    Posted March 24, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I, too, have chronicled the number of times I’ve laughed that hard. I can think of…three.

  11. Posted March 24, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    I am happy to see and hear the laughter, Mark.

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