Life is a bowl of cherries consumed while riding a rollercoaster.

[Ed. Note: Don’t grade me on this one, people. There was no editing AT ALL. There’s usually SOME editing. A smidge of editing. At least a glance at my completed post before I actually publish. This time? Nothing. There will be blood mistakes.]

Yeah. I could have just used a sarcasm tag at the end of “cherries” in that title, but I really needed to get the image of a rollercoaster in your head to explain that there are highs and lows around these parts. And, people, every low is a real shit show. But enough about the lows. I’d rather talk about the fact that at some point relatively recently, I regained the ability to succumb to the giggles. I’d lost that for a while. A really long while. As in years. You know the giggles I’m talking about, right? Those really great belly laughs where you finally regain your composure only to be triggered again, and you’re off and running for an unbearable (to anyone unlucky enough to be a part of your surroundings) period of time. Helpless to stop the madness until it’s runs its course. The people around you are either: involved in the joke and are crying with laughter as well; slightly amused at your inability to control the snort that slips out from time to time; puzzled; or rapidly losing patience. Two of my best friends from back in our Cisco days — (Hi, Kathy! See you tomorrow!) (Hi, Vicky!) — and I were often reduced to stumbling around doubled over with laughter and tears of epic proportions. Ah, the good old days. I can’t even remember the things that would set us off, but I remember so many days spent laughing together with complete abandon, and with utter disregard to any spectacle we might be making of ourselves. Laughing until my stomach hurt so badly, and I’d have to grab a seat to regain my composure.

And those days are apparently back. I’m desperately hoping I’ll never lose them again. Conversations with my daughter are the genesis of many of these fits of uncontrollable and prolonged bouts of laughter. She is a loon. Like me. I worry about that sometimes, but she’s much more together than I ever was at her age, so I think she’s going to be all right. I subjected one of my other really good friends to one of these terrible fests of hilarity on a phone call recently as I was trying to recount an earlier laughing spell and triggered an entirely new one when I used the wrong word and basically spent stupid amounts of time laughing helplessly and trying desperately to regain some measure of control so we could continue talking. He was not similarly amused. Which helped me get my shit together enough to continue our conversation, and I allowed myself full privileges on prolonged laughter later in the day whenever I remembered what I said along with his deadpan response.

I went out to dinner with some friends recently, (Howdy, Stephen! I know you read this, so I’m calling you out, man.) and I found myself back in the laughter zone when my brother recounted a story about his mailbox. If I told the story it would sound about as banal as a story could get (mailbox?!), but my brother’s delivery is spot on every damn time and typically has a way of hitting that sweet spot of making it impossible for me not to laugh uproariously, regardless of my current circumstances. Like, if I was in the middle of a restaurant, and it would behoove me not to be quite so loud and obnoxious. Eh. Whatever. That story was funny! And it could have been tears, people. Like I said, rollercoaster. I’m thrilled to be spending this much time howling with laughter these days.

Hey, it’s time to get to the point of my story, and it’s going to be so damn weak after all that. I work in a tall building, and I attended an emergency response training. Something I’ve never done before. It was pretty fascinating. I’ve worked in a number of tall buildings. Never considered much of any of the things we covered in that meeting. Yay, I’m stupid. It was interesting to note that when the security guard asked if anyone had felt the building move in strong winds, some of the people looked a little weirded out. Even though they were on a high floor in the last location. I think it’s because you get used to the sensation and don’t realize what you’re experiencing. I notice it often and find it oddly cool. Why? I have no idea. I’m one of the biggest chicken babies you’ll ever meet. Would I find a fire in that same tall building cool? I would very, very much not find it cool. I would find it beyond terrifying because a lot of people have to get out of that tall building in a very short period of time by descending a narrow and terribly long stairwell. Did I mention that we are on one of the highest floors? That spells trouble, people. But I also have a bit of a dark sense of humor. Therein lies the problem. Couple the ability to anticipate how terrifying that situation would be, and add in a dash of dark humor while your charming security guards are demonstrating the handy safety travel seat that’s available to transport those who are unable to navigate the stairs in an evacuation because they are incapacitated in some way. Et voilà. During the demonstration, the security guard said something about the safety travel seats being a real slowdown in the evacuation process. And mentioned that an alternative to taking the poor chap strapped into the seat all the way down to the first floor and out of the building would be to leave that same unlucky dude stationed by one of the stairwell doors. He very emphatically stated that it was critical to come and tell someone in charge that the fellow was without transport and would need a lift out of the building. I believe this is when I chimed in with, “Well, this got very dark pretty quickly.” And I laughed heartily. Please understand that this was a group of like-minded people, and everyone was dark humor-equipped. It was not only me. Stop judging.

And as we strolled back into our offices after the demonstration, I said that our lesson of the day was that you either needed to make sure you were always capable of navigating the stairs in the case of an evacuation, or make sure you were well-liked. I mentioned to everyone that my only chance of scoring a ride all the way down to the first floor would be to offer a bribe. I began with $400 but immediately upped it to $1000. And as I mentioned it to one of my friends, she said, “Exactly. The minute they deliver you to the exit, you hand them the cash.” I confessed to her that I had foolishly pictured in my head handing them the fat stack of cash at the TOP OF THE STAIRWELL. You know, like a boss. Which means I’d be up there all strapped in to my neon yellow safety travel seat parked at the stairwell door awaiting the firemen to come and collect my stupid ass. Because my co-workers would be downstairs already planning all their new purchases with my $1000. And this is when the giggles came. Because I couldn’t get the visual out of my head. My look of surprise as they accepted my money with looks of pity mixed with a healthy dose of barely-disguised disdain. My look of disgust as they parked me by the stairwell door of 17. And, finally, my look of chagrin as I realized I had no one to blame but my own damn self. Come on, firemen. Please save my stupid, sorry ass. And on and on, the images swirled through my head. I couldn’t stop laughing. But then it was time for the security guards to wrap up the training. Which meant it was time for me to pull my shit together. Stop the giggles. But I can’t control them! And DEFINITELY DON’T SNORT, STEPHANIE!!! Slight snort squeaks out. Did anybody hear that? Damn IT! I don’t know if they heard it, but the giggles are now out of control. Hide your face behind a tissue. They think you aren’t taking this seriously. DUDE! They have guns!! Well, I mean I don’t know if they have guns at the current moment, but they have access to guns. They told us so. They might have a baton. They are going to knock my ass out. I’m going to be laid out unconscious on the floor because I’ve got the giggles. Is my bladder full? For real?! Am I going to have a bladder control situation as well? Silent laughter is the bulging bladder’s killer.  Oh hell no. Why are you doing this to yourself??? You know the tears are falling now, right? You are laughing that damn hard. Sure, it’s silent laughter, but you look completely nuts. I mean, seriously?! Tears? OK, casually wipe your eyes with the napkin while continuing to try to suppress the giggles. Pull yourself together, woman!

I hope I continue to struggle with giggle suppression. Because it means that I still have the ability to laugh with abandon like this. Nothing beats uncontrollable laughter in my book.

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