I love laughter. I love laughing. I love making others laugh as well as watching others make others laugh. To me, there’s nothing better than a good, hearty guffaw when things seem blue, or a side-splitting howl, all doubled up on the floor, completely in stitches.
My earliest memories are those of laughter and joy, the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with it, the soreness that develops around your cheeks and eyes. It could be an image, a joke, a sound, or an action that triggers this often uncontrollable response that leaves you feeling better than before.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not what you would call a “rule-breaker,” but when I had my partner in crime, we were meant to cause trouble. This is why I think my father nicknamed us “Rockheads.”
One of my earliest memories is at my grandparents’ apartment on my mom’s side when I was around five or six years old. My younger brother and I were being given a lesson on how to make paper airplanes from our fun-loving uncle. Upon securing some multicolored paper and sequestering it to our HQ in the den, I got very excited and imagined myself, my brother and uncle in a hangar, designing future Air Force fighters and stealth bombers. My brother and I are very competitive, so we challenged each other to see who would build the best flying planes. We were so engrossed in our airplanes that we weren’t even the slightest bit aware of what our uncle planned to do with them next.
I looked down at my fingers after a while and noticed they were tired and achy from folding and bending, so I darted out of the den and headed to the living room, where my family was hanging out. They were completely oblivious to our nefarious behavior and I was loving every moment of our act of espionage. My face, however, would not contort itself into the passive, nonchalant mask that was necessary to pull this off, but I couldn’t help myself. Seeing the glee on my face, my parents and grandparents asked what we were doing in the den. I shrugged and said, “I dunno ... yet. But I’m sure when we are finished you’ll see.” That line was followed by a muffled giggle and a quick dash back toward the den.
After we assembled our fleet, I turned to my uncle and smiled at our accomplishment. But he was too busy to notice. He and my brother had already carefully balanced as many colorful airplanes as they could fit in their hands, and were turning to leave the den. Careful not to be noticed by our family, we snuck down the hallway toward the balcony at the rear of the apartment. The door was already open because it was a gorgeous day, but the screen door was up and we had to find a way to slide it open quietly without being noticed. My brother and uncle both looked at me and stared at my hands, which were not so full of airplanes. I quickly understood the cue, and so very carefully and slowly, I pulled open the screen door. Suddenly, we were all peering 16 stories down to Lake Shore Drive.
Our first flight was merely a test run to ensure the aerodynamics were correct. My uncle took wind and trajectory into account before carefully releasing the first plane. At first, it looked like it was going to take off soaring into the atmosphere, but the wind sharply took hold of the flaps and violently steered it into a nosedive, heading straight for the doorman’s unsuspecting cap. We watched and held our breath as it veered this way and that, turning and tumbling, until it found its final resting place on the asphalt driveway. We saw the doorman’s cap suddenly jerk to the left toward the paper airplane and we pulled ourselves back into the apartment.
That’s when my brother and I could not contain ourselves any more. We laughed and squealed and hopped around like we had just won the lottery. Pretty soon, we were taking turns launching the rest of our noble fleet into the afternoon skies and watching them twist and turn in the wind, each one taking its own unique path to the ground below.
When our parents and grandparents found out, they weren’t so happy with us or our uncle, but one thing was for sure: we were having a great time. Sure, you could claim that we snuck around, disobeyed and littered, but we didn’t hurt anyone.
I learned a lot that day. I learned that breaking the rules isn’t necessarily a fun and laughable experience, but following the rules all the time isn’t either. I also learned that I could not do practically anything as a child with my brother without getting into some sort of mischief. But most importantly, I learned that life is too short to miss opportunities to laugh, love, and build memories that last a lifetime. I have my own family now to begin building those memories, and I smile and chuckle at the thought of building paper airplanes for my nieces and nephews when the time comes.
So what are you waiting for? Go share some laughs with someone!