Outbreaks of the giggles are a plague on humanity. They render us helpless and sheepish when they strike, usually at the most inconvenient times (a funeral) or in highly unsuitable places (jury boxes). There’s no known cure and recurrences are common. People immune to the giggles (see fig. 1) shouldn’t be trusted. They’re aliens. Alert the proper authorities.
When Seized by an Attack of The Giggles:
• avoid eye contact
• feign a coughing fit or crying jag, whichever befits the occasion
• promptly excuse yourself and retreat in a courteous fashion
• allow symptoms to fully subside before returning to the scene of your outburst
In my experience, the giggles are tricky. What I find uproariously funny, most others don’t. They’re either appalled or concerned or sympathetic; regardless, they don’t see the humor.
You may think, at my advanced age, I’ve outgrown the giggles. I have not. I continue to be victimized by fits of laughter whenever it’s inappropriate or uncalled for. People falling down gets me every time. I know it’s wrong. I know it’s impolite. I know it’s heartless. The inevitable looks of disgust and condemnation I receive aren’t at all helpful. They, in fact, only add fuel to the fire.
I will illustrate with a recent example: a woman in her early 30s was making her way to the restroom in a crowded restaurant. As she rounded the bar she skidded, her arms shot out and she flailed wildly, finally snagging the edge of a chair to regain her balance. It was a totally awkward, Three Stooges kind of move and I laughed. She didn’t.
She wanted to fight. I laughed harder. She got madder, curling her hands into fists. I tried to swallow my face, but couldn’t stop laughing. Before a punch was thrown, a friend of mine stepped in and apologized for me. The woman, begrudgingly, went on her way — shooting angry, hateful looks all the while.
If I don’t grow up and act my age, I’m gonna get myself killed.