By Mary Zachmeyer
There were rats in the soufflé again. I jumped back and knocked over my husband. The coffee cup from his hand flew through the air and plopped in the punchbowl. The cranberry punch then dotted my heirloom Irish linen tablecloth.
?What the??? hubby said. His ears wiggled as he spoke, so I knew I was in trouble.
?Honey, there?s rats in here again.? I helped him up.
He stuck his nose an inch from the hot casserole.?Are they done??
?Your folks?ll be here in five minutes. I can?t serve them Soufflé ala Raton.? I pounded my fist on the counter.
With the bang of my fist, the soufflé dropped several inches and a small gray mouse peeked over the edge of the bowl.
?Hi! Wanna bite??
I wrote this a long time ago and I hope it made you giggle or at least smile. What makes us laugh? When I was a kid, I sat in the Capital or Palace Theater in Burlington, the audience around me laughing their insides out during a Three Stooges movie. I smiled at their antics, but never had a belly-laugh experience. Jerry Lewis made me laugh. Sometimes, I thought Bob Hope was funny. I remember being delighted with Danny Kaye, his singing, his dancing. Remember the song, Hans Christian Anderson? I loved it and I?d leave the theater singing it.
?Singing in the Rain? with Gene Kelly is another humorous or happy film I remember. But I?m sure I didn?t roll in the aisles of the theater during that one. But the song became one of my favorites. Burlington had a whole lot of alleys, it seemed to me, when I was walking from North Hill to South Hill in the ?40s and ?50s. I sang that song as I passed by those dreaded alleys to prove to any onlooker that might be there to eat me alive, that I was not afraid!!! Guess it worked. I?m still here.
Who and what makes us laugh? Red Skelton did. His humility coupled with humor worked magic to TV audiences. My dog makes me laugh every day. I weed, she checks out which weed I?m pulling today; then goes a couple feet away and tries to help by eating that particular weed. If she finds a straight pin on the floor, she scampers off to a corner to hide her ?catch? and throws it in the air like she?s throwing a ball. A squirrel dangled from a tree branch awhile ago; that made me laugh. Erma Bombeck made me laugh until I couldn?t read another word.
When you lose someone you love in the family, you need laughter. My daughter Kristine began to dream up skits at Christmastime, poking fun at her dad or brothers. Sometimes, we exchanged gag gifts. When her brothers turned 50, she instigated absolutely delightful gifts for them, poking fun of their age. Mostly, we girls laughed until our sides hurt. Why do women laugh more than men?
I don?t think people laugh as much as they used to. Do we have too much tech in our lives and not enough socializing? Does the state of the country or world influence our laughter?
I know that surprise is a big element of laughter. I know laughter heals. I know when my Grand Uncle Henry walked into the kitchen and saw little seven-year-old Mary Louise, she would laugh and turn red when he?d stick his stub of a finger in his nose and wink at me. (I don?t know how he lost two digits. I wish there was someone to ask.) I fell for it every time.
I know I laughed at my children, especially Theresa when she was a toddler. She?d sneak behind the sofa, scotch tape in hand, stick pieces of tape all over her face and arms. Other times, she?d get a hold of the toilet paper and pull it around the house until I caught her. I couldn?t punish her; she was too cute to spank, her dad would say. I hope you find lots to laugh about today and every day of your life.
Until the next laugh-till-I cried moment?.