I’ve just had my hair cut. It’s one of those situations where small talk is at play. I can’t get away with my normal invective about life during a haircut. the following, for instance, is out of the window.
“So i’m starting this thing called Dog Stalking. It’s the largely benevolent photographing of dogs without their owners permission. I shall recruit people from across the land, who will all contribute. Once I have seventy or more photographs, I shall make a collage out of all the pictures, and tack it up all over London.”
She wouldn’t have liked that. So I stick to small talk. The openings come from being able to discuss the fact that her mother used to work at the same pub that I did. That’s all well and good, if mundane. I make a weak joke about alcohol. There is no responsive laugh. I feel faintly foolish, as the hair falls onto the floor. In my head, I suddenly get an image of a dog having a bone slammed down in front of it’s face. The image makes me chortle.
During times such as these there is a mutual agreement between parties that no arbitrary laughter takes place. There are other situations you may have experienced. The following are examples.
Parent’s night at the school.
All of these involve moments of having to remain in a certain, rigid doctrine of behaviour. Unlike yer normal activities, you can never show amusement, the cause of which is unknown to the other party, or parties. In my case, the rule has been broken several times.
You see, to me, it’s precisely these situations that make me laugh. I don’t want to do it, I mean come on, what cunt laughs at a funeral? I never have, incidentally, i’m just saying it COULD happen. However, some years ago, I did laugh in a dentist’s chair.
I was lying there, as you do, with the dentist looming over me. He’s got his hat on, a metal implement used for stuff, tooth prodding, whatever. I stare at the ceiling, knowing what is ahead. A long, arduous battle with sniggering. As a man who suffers so regularly with ennui I don’t usually laugh. It takes something of a genius to make me truly roar with laughter. I will watch a favourite comedy, and simply stare through it like it isn’t there. I enjoy it, of course, I appreciate the clever jokes, but I don’t laugh. I will watch Father Ted and simply sit and say “That figures, old Father Jack shouting, that’s funny.” but I won’t laugh at all.
This all changes when I can’t laugh. That’s the killer. At times like these, everything amuses me. The word “Bum” is renewed with comic effect. The dentist doesn’t know what’s ahead.
It starts slowly. I am quite comfortable in my chair, thinking about things. In my head, things can mean anything. A sad dog. A depressed butcher being shown the door. Ten thousand baked beans in a gravity generator. Something like that. Then I will think this…
“Shit. What if I started laughing right now? I hope I don’t laugh.”
It all starts here. I then look around, panicking, my eyes darting, wide open, metal in my mouth, surgeon looming over me. I think about it some more, then start to imagine what I look like, lying there, with my mouth open in an absurd “O”. Immediately, I tense up, the image twirling around my head like a fucking ballerina in a jester’s hat. I start to shudder, I can feel the laugh gearing up, racking my bones. I’m not laughing from my mouth, audibly, but the tremors are starting to shake my resolve. Then, the main assault, out of my dark mind comes a succession of BEANO style childish words.
“BUM! POO! WEE!” shouted through a loud-hailer by some town crier in my head. I start to shake rather rapidly, my mouth still wide open, eyes rolling away, the sniggers escape my maw, warped by the unnatural shape of it. The dentist, clearly not amused, simply said…
“Could you stop laughing, please?”
IT’S NOT THAT FUCKING EASY!