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Inappropriate laughter on the bobsled ride to Hades

Why is it that when you know you're not supposed to laugh, things get exponentially more hilarious?

When something — or someone — unexpectedly tickles your funny bone when in church, class or court, social dictates suggest decorum be maintained.

Unless you're sitting next to me. For I will do my utmost to make you join in my gigglefest. Because it's not only misery that loves company.

From kindergarten to present day, I have been plagued by the windy snorts. To make matters worse, the more I try to repress my laughter, the more infectious whatever set me off seems to become.

Teachers would demand I stop disrupting class after some silly joke whispered by a fellow student sent me into a paroxysm of mirth. Inevitably, the admonition would result in the opposite effect.

I'd try to behave. Honest. I'd dig my fingers into my palm. Bite my trembling lip. Think about my failing math grade.

But nothing ever worked. Knowing I must not laugh only makes me guffaw all the harder.

In desperation, I'd look over at my towheaded classmate for help. The instigator would fake a look of total confusion for the teacher's benefit and shrug innocently.

"I don't know what's gotten into her," his big blue eyes seemed to say. "Perhaps if you kept her after school to reflect upon her poor behavior?"

Being tossed under the bus would cause me to gasp. But it didn't derail my laugh-track. For as soon as the teacher looked away, he'd do it again. Flash a mug. Repeat the comment.

And we're off. Again.

"Sandra Lynne!" the teacher would thunder.

Doubled over in gales of laughter, tears streaming down my face, I'd be excused to go "collect myself."

Things weren't any better at home.

My father used to become red-faced with rage at my trips down Hilarity Lane during one of our interminable head-butting sessions.

One time we were fighting over my choice of earrings. Pop thought I should be wearing demure little gold posts. I'd just purchased a pair of long danglers with tiny bells that jingled when I walked. I adored their boho-chic style. He deemed the "hippy earrings" as pure "ho."

I always knew his bark was toothless. But it was full of sound and fury nonetheless. So was mine.

We were hollering like two hillbillies over their last drop of whiskey. Suddenly, amidst the vocal clamoring of my teenage rebellion and his over-protective parenting, I mentally floated above our mutual hyperbole.

A gurgle welled up. I tried to stifle it. But a smile split my face. A chuckle slipped out. Followed by a guffaw. And the rest was history.

Dad was so peeved to think I was laughing at him. But in my heart I was laughing with him. He just refused to join in.

My dear departed father missed a lot of belly laughs, by my way of thinking.

Then again, Pops might be on the safe side of St. Peter — and having the last laugh.

Knowing I'm not alone in this amusement affliction, I posed the "inappropriate laughter" query to a group of friends. Then I did a spit-take at the first comment received from a fellow parrot-lover.

"Inappropriate laughter is the continuous soundtrack on the inevitable bobsled to hell that many of us will ride."

I offered to be the driver. But ultimately deferred to a girlfriend with preacher papa and farmer's-daughter mama. She deserves it.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.