Monday, January 12, 2009

When laughter becomes a liability


I have a disease and I don’t know how to deal with it. I wouldn’t normally see this as a disease but when it comes to a point where it interferes with my work and being socially inappropriate, it is a disease.

You see, I have a tendency to laugh uncontrollably, sometimes even when there seems to be no reason for me to laugh. It is not intentional. I just have no control over it.

I hope you won’t think that I am crazy because I assure you that I am not. For those who have managed to witness this disease of mine must be told that I laugh not without reason. It’s just that you don’t know the reason. Very often when I remember a hilarious incident  or a joke or something that tickles me hard,  I would burst out laughing hysterically, much to everyone’s discomfort and confusion. For that I apologise but again, it is never my intention to be rude or behave crazy.

I am supposed to conduct a training workshop next week and I am consumed with fear that I might burst out laughing as soon as someone mispronounces something. For instance, I swear, if someone starts to say, “We conduct anal (as oppose to annual) assessment regularly” I would not only have the urge to laugh, I would just crack my butt laughing and nobody would understand. Even if someone does, how appropriate is it for a trainer to laugh herself silly when her trainees are talking?


I am not joking because this has happened to me before. Once, I was training a group of people and someone mispronounced something (it happens a lot because English is not their first language) and I swear I was going to explode but I tried my hardest to control it. I was somehow successful as no sound came out because I forced my mouth shut. Unfortunately, instead of laughing, I ended up looking like someone with Parkinson’s disease. My whole face turned red and my body shook uncontrollably, not to mention a tad too violently as well. It took me at least 5 minutes to recover myself.

I also realise that this disease has a larger implication on others. I don’t really mind if I am the only one inflicted with such tragic disorder  but when it affects other people’s self-esteem, it’s just not funny.

Once, my cousin’s daughters came to visit me at my apartment in Kuala Lumpur. They were extremely excited and they had other reason to be because they would be meeting my husband for the first time. So when one of her little ones came into the house, she did a curtsy for my husband. What was supposedly a cute and sweet gesture where the only appropriate reaction would be to gush, I burst out laughing. Yes, I did and much to her horror and embarrassment.  I reproached myself for this because that poor girl probably rehearsed everything the night before, thinking that it would charm the first French man she met. Alas, my only thought was, “Did she think that French people greet each other like that?”

So, you see, I have a disease and I don’t know how to deal with it.

P/s: I can’t even find the right category to put this article in. I think instead of starting a new category under “Disease”, I opted for Humour instead. Maybe this will help others to see the humourous side of things, rather than a liability.

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