Yes, it was awkward and disgusting and humiliating, but I did it because I was laughing so hard, I could not help myself. Helpless laughter. Uncontrollable, unbridled, unfeigned job. That is what I miss.
I cannot remember the last time I laughed because I literally could not stop myself from doing so. This is not to say I don’t laugh now; I do laugh. I laugh because it is appropriate. I laugh to put others at ease, to avoid the awkwardness that would result from a lack of response. I laugh to signal acceptance of whatever has been said or done.
When did this transition take place? Was it gradual, did it sneak up on me unannounced? Was it learned by observation and imitation? Or is it the result of truly having less to laugh about?
What did I used to laugh about, as a child? What was so funny that it made my stomach sore and my bladder weak? Those things could not have changed; only I could have changed.
Have others undergone the same change? Is their laughter now merely a social lubricant, or do they actually still feel that uncensored, childish joy?
I want that joy back. Yet, the more I force myself to laugh, the more I feel that pure feeling of joy receding into my past, becoming a memory like strawberry popsicles at Disneyland and mud pies in the backyard.