the best medicine

Okay, so I am the last person on earth to hear about Ali G. I cannot even tell you how hard I laughed watching “Ali G Indahouse” last night with the MSG. At one point, I was pretty sure that I was going to vomit from laughing so hard. But I didn’t. No matter how much I appreciate word play and puns, I am such a sucker for physical comedy and low-brow jokes. While googling for Ali G today, I discovered his 2004 Harvard commencement address. More laughter. Ow.

I just had a vivid memory of my friend M. We would sit in the courtyard by the dorms on campus before our workshop, and we’d talk about anything and everything. It took no time at all to fall into comfortable conversation with him. I miss him a lot. This particular memory involved us pretending that the statue of the Virgin Mary with her arms outstretched downwards and her foot crushing the head of the serpent was her gesturing, “What the fuck?” That was the same evening that M kept saying “fo’ sheezy” so loudly that the echo of his voice bounced off every stone wall around us and made me laugh until I cried.

I love to laugh. It might very well be one of my favorite things to do, right up there with eating Nutella from the jar, reading science-fiction stories, mincing garlic, being kissed on the hand, and writing the first words in a Moleskine. There are all kinds of laughs, but I seem to have lost one of them: the polite laugh. I don’t think anyone could call my laugh “polite”, and I’ve forgotten how to force laughter. My mom compares my laugh to my nonna’s keening wail. I loved that I never knew right away if she was screaming or laughing. Her whole body took part in her laugh. If something was in her hand when she started laughing, it would end up in the air or on the floor. If that something was a cup of coffee, things could get awesome.

Last night, the MSG and I were standing in line at his corner store and he was biting the back of my skull. This is not an uncommon occurrence; as always, it was making me laugh, which in turn was making the proprietor laugh. He said, “You should get him a chew toy,” pointing at the MSG. That just made me laugh harder: I am his chew toy.

My mom used to try so hard to make me laugh when I was a somber, sullen child. She’d try anything: silly faces, weird voices, bad jokes. I would just watch her, impassive. Then one night when she was putting me to sleep, she said goodnight, then turned and accidentally smacked her face on the door jamb. Thinking this was a ploy to get me to laugh, and a right funny one, I immediately dissolved into giggles. My mom then had a new weapon, and she wielded it expertly. She would even pretend to fall down the stairs for me. Every night thereafter, I would beg, “Trip and fall, Mommy! Trip and fall!”

I haven’t begged my mom to trip and fall for a while now. At least three or four months.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.