My sister Charity has been making me laugh at inappropriate times and at inappropriate things since she was five months old. I will never forget sitting in church on a Sunday night with her on my lap. I was 12, and drawing attention of any kind to myself was, at that time in my life, emotional suicide. But right in the middle of a very long Southern Baptist prayer, Charity started blowing raspberries at me, and then giggling at herself. I giggled back. She was encouraged, so she did it again, and this time I stifled a laugh. She continued the game, and I slowly inched my way to hysteria, the kind that only gets worse when you try to control it. I had tears streaming down my face, and I was doing that silent shaking laughter that is actually painful. All of this was encouragement to Charity, who was by now causing people to turn around and smile that “oh, isn’t she cute” smile that only babies can score for interrupting a church service. My mom was an innocent bystander, but she, too, got sucked in, and eventually the three of us–my mother and I with Charity in tow–had to get up and retreat to the empty church nursery where we sat in the middle of the floor and laughed like the insane.
This evening at dinner Charity and I had already started eating before we realized that everyone else at the table was staring at us expectantly. Perhaps they thought us barbaric. Perhaps they were waiting for us to choke or keel over from eating unblessed food. We sheepishly withdrew our forks and joined hands like everyone else at the table, and just as Big Dave began the prayer, my mother’s cell phone, which Charity had programmed on the way to dinner, began ringing loudly, proudly belting out the theme song to “Sex and the City.” I tried to control my laughter, but I was holding Charity’s hand, so I could tell she was laughing, too. I thought I was going to have to crawl under the table.
Before the evening was over, my Uncle Mike almost fell out of his chair (I swear he wasn’t drunk), and Big Dave had a gigantic marinara stain down the front of his shirt. It could have been embarrassing, but I was happy–I got to laugh with my sister.
Megan, we missed you.