Never Laugh Again
The End of Laughter, Forever. Ha!
The last of my drinking years found me isolated. I’d been pulling down a curtain between myself and everything else in my life, and it got lonely. Devastatingly lonely.
I was able to maintain some of my relationships, but I was sliding further and further into a sense of hopelessness and despair.
My disposition was always fairly bright, and I was ready to laugh and joke and carry on to hilarity. I loved to laugh. My Dad was a joker, and I received his gift of making quips or one-liners. I'm not any good at telling jokes, but I'm good at making them.
I grew up with a lot of good humor in my house, and I loved it. We rolled our eyes at many of my father's corny jokes, but we loved it. For a straight and conservative guy, he could be out there with a whacked-out sense of humor.
Then came my years of experimentation, followed by outright use leading to addiction. Drugs, especially weed and acid, made me laugh for hours and hours. While tripping, I would often laugh for a good 12 hours straight. My sides and my stomach hurt the next day from all the laughing.
Once this started to happen, I felt the desire to enhance the situation by getting more and more out of my mind, and getting wilder and laughing harder.
I remember once laughing and howling while getting my arm stitched up at the college infirmary, wasted on a Saturday night, and keeping my buddies rolling on the floor while I was attended to. Even the nurse was cracking up.
There was a moment that lives on from an acid trip. Hours into it, a group of 8 of us or so were peaking on LSD. Our minds were racing and we were laughing and it was insane. A moment of silence fell on all of us as we retreated into each of our separate brain spaces. Then, with perfect timing, out of the freaking blue, my buddy Johnny comes out with, "I love Brian Piccolo."
We were only a handful of years removed from the rite of passage that was watching "Brian's Song," a beautifully told tear-jerker that brought each of us then-early pubescents to tears.
Now, one of the famous lines from it was bringing us to tears of LSD-fueled laughter.
Many years later, the bleakness was descending, and the isolation was getting bad.
I had a sort of ramping up to getting sober. I warmed up, slowly, to the idea of it. As that happened, I spent a lot of time laying in bed with my mind swirling and spinning.
I reached a state where I knew it had to happen. I had to give up drugs and alcohol for good.
I was ready to accept this dull and gray existence, feeling that I’d done myself in with my behavior and that I was to be sentenced to life without laughter or fun. It was my fault, and now I must accept my punishment.
I can recall that moment. I truly believed I'd never laugh again.
Some of the biggest laughs I have these days come from my thoughts. My wife is blown away by how I’ll be alone in a room, laughing my head off. My idea is this: who knows my sense of humor better than I do? I can make myself laugh harder than just about anyone or anything because I know what I find funny.
What I love is the purity of laughter now that it’s not fueled by substances and drinks.
And when I get together with some sober friends, and we get to telling stories, the darkest of black humor can take hold. It’s a rich form of laughter, that of survivors. And we understand each other’s insanity and the crazy shit that we did.
In the old days, we’d need to top each other. I never feel that anymore. It’s much more of a brother- and sisterhood, where we’re in it together, enthralled to be in each other’s company, and grateful for the moment.
I was 100% wrong when I thought I’d never laugh again, thank God. I laugh with abandon, and there’s an extra element to it now. I’m aware that I’m lucky to be alive, and that makes the laughter all that much richer.