I tried an experiment last week. I decided to laugh nonstop for 24 hours to test the veracity of the old saying.
Unfortunately, within 30 minutes, I was arrested. The police came to my door, backed up by a SWAT team. One of my neighbors had apparently reported suspicious noises coming from my apartment. I greeted the officers at the door full of good cheer.
“Hahahahahaha”, I said, “Come on in! Hahaha. Have a beer!” Not one of them cracked so much as a hint of a smile, let alone laughed along, though a couple of them did head for the refrigerator. The leader of the squad started barking orders at me. (My dog, Screwloose, gave him a funny look. I don’t know how he did it but the cop managed to sound like a cop and a bull mastiff at the same time.)
“Loose the laugh, bud.” He growled. When I didn’t, he promised I’d be laughing out of the other side of my mouth after a trip to the station-house. I tried that out, then and there. Laughing out of the other side of my mouth made absolutely no difference. I noted this in my journal before they cuffed me.
“You think this is funny?” the cop said as he led me, still chortling, to his squad-car. “It ain’t!” Screwloose bounded after the squad-car as we headed to the station. He had a big doggy smile on his face and his tongue was hanging out, which made me laugh a lot even while the cop next to me kept demanding I shut up and kept hitting me with his stick. The cop was laughing, but for the wrong reasons.
When we got to the station, they threw me in jail immediately. I was confronted by a bunch of tough, surly-looking fellow prisoners. Still trying to remain true to my purpose, I tried to amuse them with a series of guffaws, twitters, chortles, and yuks, but without much luck. They did, however, keep their distance, which was probably a good thing.
The next morning, after a long night of mirthful dreams, (I can laugh in my sleep, it turns out) I was taken from the cell. The other prisoners appeared happy to see me go, but unfortunately, their joy wasn’t expressed audibly. They merely fell asleep, some with small smiles of relief on their faces.
The judge I faced was no more amused than anyone else I had encountered. He was on the verge of sentencing me to be locked up in an asylum someplace when Screwloose crashed into the courtroom through a window. Mayhem ensued. Screwloose grabbed me by the sleeve and dragged me out through the broken window and we ran, laughing insanely together, down the street.
Things have calmed down considerably now. Screwloose and I are holed up in a movie theater outside of town. We’re watching a comedy. (Screwloose’s idea. He’s one smart puppy.) Everybody’s laughing, but not because they’ve become infected by my laughter. The movie is pretty dumb, actually, lots of pratfalls and people screaming, but they seem to like it. I must make a note in my journal.
My 24 hours is just about up. We’ll be on the lam for awhile, I guess, but I’m not worried. They’ll be looking for a guy who’s laughing all the time and I won’t be. I thought I might try weeping for awhile, but I hear “This stolid old earth has need of our mirth and has troubles enough of its own.”