Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Miss Elizabeth has challenged us today with the word: cachinate: to laugh hard: to laugh convulsively and loudly. Well, this is a state of being with which I have considerable experience. My mom used to say "you think everything is funny!" because, basically, everything is. Hilarious.
As a teen, I cachinated embarrasingly loudly, and was a spectacle on the street with my best friend, laughing so hard we'd cry. As a wife, my laughter and general loudness embarrassed my husband. When Steph was a teenager, she would tell me witheringly: "You think you're funny, but you're not." That didn't stop me. I got worse.
Laughter bubbles up frequently, in our family, especially in times of stress. When we get together, cackles abound, peals of laughter from room to room. My great-grandson learned to cackle when he was less than a year old. From his carseat in the backseat we'd hear "blah blah blah", and then he'd cackle, cracking us all up.
But the laughter that always stopped me in my tracks, was Turtle's. Turtle lived in Tofino. Barely five feet tall, he wore an admiral's jacket, a long bushy beard and long flowing dark hair under his admiral's cap. He looked exactly like a miniature sea captain. There was a huge cement statue of a goddess near the town square and the paper once posted a photo of Turtle kissing its behind, which was conveniently placed head-high on Turtle.
When Turtle laughed, everything stopped. His laugh could be heard all over the village center, a loud riveting cackle. We all laughed with him. You couldnt keep a straight face when Turtle's laugh boomed out. He'd doff his cap to the ladies, bending low, with a chivalrous sweep of his arm, letting us walk by. Turtle loved the ladies.
Towards the end of my time there, some busybody must have filed complaints. Turtle was summoned to court and appeared before the judge, his beard tidily brushed in acknowledgment of the solemnity of his surroundings. His brass buttons looked especially shiny that day.
The Judge rattled some papers, peered over the tops of his glasses, read out the charge of disturbing the peace. Turtle made no contest.
The Judge issued his pronouncement. Turtle was prohibited from laughing after 11 p.m. at night, in the interests of preserving the peace of the village.
I wonder what Turtle did with his sense of the absurd after court, and where he put his sense of humour after 11 p.m.