Many years ago, I became very self-conscious after someone close to me made this pointed remark about my laugh. Pigs snort! Was I a pig?!
I was humiliated. Embarrassed. Self conscious. You cannot truly laugh when self-conscious about the sound of your own laughter. But who wants to laugh like a pig?! Actually, pigs don’t laugh.
Laughter is a physical reaction in humans and some other species of primate, consisting typically of
rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. It is a response to certain external or internal stimuli. Laughter can arise from such activities as being tickled, or from humorous stories or thoughts.
Scientists have made serious studies of laughter, both the whats and hows. Nervous laughter to cover embarrassment or uncomfortable situations. Etiquette laughter at the boss’s unfunny joke. Contagious laughter in a large group and try as you might, you had to join the laugh party. Pigeon laughter is laughing without opening your mouth. You make a sort of humming sound. I know lots of people who do this at meetings.
I have long recognized the powerful health benefits of laughter. Stress relief. Energy boost. Immune system boost. No prescription required.
Laughter is the best medicine!
I needed to laugh but certainly did not want to snort. I began to listen to laughter more critically. Not what makes people laugh but how they laughed. My plan was to adopt a more socially acceptable laugh.
I thought of the sweet, bell-like laughter of Scarlet in Gone with the Wind. Too orchestrated. It certainly would not sound natural coming from my 5’11” frame.
I wanted to be more like the independent, throw your head back, resounding alto ha-ha-ha of Kathryn Hepburn (I’ve been a major Hepburn fan for decades.) But my ha-ha-ha sounds very sarcastic.
Shiloh, my unconditional 4-legged companion, is a daily source of laughter. Not a smile and pigeon laugh but out loud, genuine pleasure laughter. Pets and children bring that kind of spontaneous joy to our lives.
Some writers make me laugh out loud. There are many writers who make me smile and pigeon laugh, but the ones who make me laugh out loud when I’m reading are few and special.
A big concern was the out loud belly laugh that seemed to invade my life…and then I snorted.
When my gallery was open, a group of us would gather on Friday evenings to unwind, appreciate the current exhibit and share the trials and tribulations of our week. The gallery shared a small hall with the bar/restaurant next door where we ordered our dinner and martinis. On more than one occasion, the bartender would close the connecting door because our laughter was so loud!
One of our friends has THE most infectious laugh. It’s a throw your head back, bell clanging celebration that reverberates through the building and makes everyone happy! The frustrations of the week are drowned out and the weekend is off to a great start. Contagious laughter. Genuine, joyful, uninhibited laughter. I snort every time.
And I am not alone! 25% of women laugh through their nose. They snort when they laugh! (http://www.psy.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/bachorowski/laugh.htm) Really!
Giggles, Chuckles. Squeaks. Brays. Squeals. Uninhibited. Unbounded joy. That’s what genuine laughter is.
So I continue to snort joyfully without embarrassment. Join me! It IS socially acceptable.