Tuesday, March 2, 2004

The Best Medicine

I subscribe to several Internet health newsletters. A couple weeks ago, one of them, from a Doctor Weil, stated that the average child laughs approximately 400 times a day, while the average adult laughs only 25. He recommended that adults also should try to laugh 400 times daily because laughter does something to the immune system that promotes better health.

When I read the article to my husband, his eyebrows rose. “If I laughed 400 times a day,” he said, “I’d be fired from my job. Not only that, people probably would think I’d been nipping from a flask hidden in my desk drawer or something.”

“Well, I think we at least should try,” I said. “It sounds like a fun way to get healthier.”

Believe me, we soon learned that laughing 400 times a day is no easy task. We even made a contest of it, telling jokes and funny stories to each other. Then when one of us laughed, the other would say, “That’s 22! Only 378 more to go!”

But alas, my biggest one-day laugh total turned out to be only 55. And even that many made my stomach hurt. Actually, I’m not even sure what constitutes a full laugh anyway. I mean, are you supposed to count each “ha” separately? Or is one laugh considered to be from the first “ha” to the last one in a cluster?

Personally, I think kids who laugh 400 times a day must eat way too much sugar or something.

I did manage to have a few unexpected laughs recently, though, which added to my daily total. The strangest thing, however, is that everyone who made me laugh was being completely serious and not even trying to be funny at the time.

First of all, last month there was a reality show on TV called, “My Big, Fat, Obnoxious FiancĂ©,” where a young woman was promised a million dollars if she could convince her family to attend her wedding to one of the sloppiest and most obnoxious men around. I got hooked on the show and watched it faithfully.

Well, I was at the service desk in a department store one night, and for some reason the clerk was taking what seemed like hours to process my paperwork. I looked impatiently at my watch and without realizing it, said out loud, “Gee, I hope I make it home in time to see ‘My Big, Fat, Obnoxious FiancĂ©!’”

The clerk obviously had never heard of the show because he stopped what he was doing, looked up at me, frowned and said, “Well, if he’s that bad, why on earth did you get engaged to him in the first place?”

I burst out laughing.

Even my husband unintentionally made me laugh. While I was out shopping last Sunday, he stayed home, supposedly to do some chores. When I returned, I found him lounging in his recliner, right where I’d left him.

“Did you cut that piece of molding for the bathroom?” I asked him.


“Did you put the wheel back on our trash barrel?”


“Did you…?”

He stopped me in mid-question and said, looking depressed, “If you must know, I didn’t do anything but sit here like a big lump all day. Let’s face it, you’re married to a pet rock!”

Even though I knew he was serious, I couldn’t help but laugh. And when I did, he realized what he’d said and he started laughing, too.

Then I went with my mother for her regular physical exam. The doctor didn’t make her undress, but while she was lying on the examining table, he asked her to pull her slacks down to her knees so he could press here and there on her stomach.

When he was through, he said, “Okay, everything seems fine. I guess that’ll do it for today.”

My mother sat up, looked at the doctor and asked, “Can I pull up my slacks?”

Without even glancing up from what he was writing on her chart, he said very calmly, “Well, I think it might be a good idea before you go outside.”

Mom and I both burst out laughing.

Still, I haven’t even come close to my target of 400 laughs per day. In order to make my quota, I may just have to take drastic measures…like stand naked in front of a full-length mirror or watch wedding videos of my relatives doing the chicken dance.

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