September 17, 2010

Laughing your face off happens a lot more when you”€™re a kid than when you”€™re old. Remember those break downs in grade school when you”€™d have to hide your head behind a textbook because you were laughing so hard? Then the teacher throws gasoline on the fire by telling you to, “€œStop right now, so help me God.”€ How could she not at least chortle a little bit when she sees a kid in that state? We couldn’t even get our foreheads off our desks.
Adolescence still retains some of those laughs because the only pain you”€™ve endured is the odd break up. Then, in adulthood you”€™ve seen so much genocide, famine, war, disease, poverty, hatred and Mondays, you only get about one crippling laugh a year. They”€™re rare but when they come it’s like a hilarious stampede that makes up for lost time with a vengeance. Anyhizzles, here’s 10 doozies randomly picked from the past 40 years of having lungs and a face.

1- THROWING A STICK (I was 8-years-old)

I was walking through a forest with my best pal Lee Gratton who resembled the fat kid from Stand by Me. We were talking about the kind of havoc Transformers could wreak on Smurfs when I picked up a stick that looked exactly like a heavy boomerang. I arched back and whipped the stick with the velocity of a superhero and it went flinging through the air at over 100 mph. We both watched it spin like a murderous propeller but when it finally hit the ground, it landed in a mud puddle and stuck in with a “€œsplortch.”€ I don”€™t know if it was the fart sound of it hitting the mud, the fact that it stuck straight up, or the part where we thought it was going to dramatically ricochet off some tree – but the second it happened, both our knees gave out and we collapsed on the ground in tears. We were laughing so hard for so long I started to worry I was going to suffocate. It was one of those laughs where you physically try to put air back in your lungs using your hand. When we finally recovered I asked Lee why that was so funny and he said, “€œI have no idea.”€ Then I said, “€œIt just sort of stuck there”€ and the laughing began again.

2- LAUGH FACE (I was 14-years-old)

In high school we had this game I highly recommend to students or anyone in an environment where laughing is frowned upon. It’s called Laugh Face and it entails drawing the most hilarious picture you possibly can and flashing it to your friend while the teacher isn”€™t looking. It helps if you are making a very serious face when you show him your drawing like you don”€™t want him to laugh and would appreciate some constructive criticism.

This is a reproduction of a drawing Eric Digras did that made me spit-take so hard, I was sent first to the hallway and later to the principal’s office. I think the thing that really gave it an impact was the fact that Eric is terrible at drawing and I knew he must have worked his ass off to bring all these elements together.

3- “€œSLAP ME SOME SKIN BOBBY”€ (I was 15-years-old)

You may not remember this but marijuana doesn”€™t really work the first time you smoke it. In suburban Canada, where I grew up, it was all about hash and that shit takes forever for your body to figure out. The process for smoking it in the 80s meant: putting a pebble in a large glass bottle, banging it on your heel until a small hole was made, picking up a small piece of hash with the heater of a lit cigarette, plugging the top of the bottle, inserting the cigarette into the hole so the hash cooked in the bottle, taking out the cigarette, and inhaling the smoking content, and finally, hacking your lungs out for five minutes. It was an ordeal.

About the seventh time we tried it, our little crew was sitting on lawn chairs in the backyard of some party we weren”€™t invited to. It’s hard to tell if you”€™re stoned especially if you”€™ve never been before. Eventually, Peter McCarthy breaks the silence by asking, “€œAre you guys feeling little, wiggly snakes go zipping through your body?”€ Then he made the motion with his hand so we”€™d know what he was talking about. Though this question sparked some smiling interest from the group, we soon faded back into silence before a very large farmer’s son named Szabo dropped to his knees, held out his hand and yelled to Peter, “€œSLAP ME SOME SKIN, BOBBY.”€ As we all catapulted off our chairs and laughed face down on the brick patio, we simultaneously realized our brains had finally struck pay dirt and we had just begun a long career of stonerdom. Szabo’s bizarre demand was fucking hilarious, don”€™t get me wrong, but it was the combination of knowing we had all finally accomplished something that really had us rolling in the aisles.

Today, 25 years later, we still use the term “€œSlap Me’s”€ to describe laughs. It almost gives me a slap me to hear a 40-something friend from those days saying, “€œYeah, it wasn”€™t that funny of a movie. I mean, I had maybe a three Slap Me’s the whole time.”€

4- CAR CRASH (I was 16-years-old)

After discovering the merits of hash, we would make trips to the woods and hang out on a log getting high. This particular day trip was myself, a slightly older kid named Steve Durand and a handsome ladies man we all called Dog Boy. We found a spot with four dead trees lying in a square and walked along them making up stupid songs like, “€œWalkin”€™ the block, walkin”€™ the block, I”€™m changin”€™ my socks.”€ When it was time to go we all crawled into my tiny Chevette and headed home through a mountainous part of Quebec’s called Les Gatineaus.

While driving along this treacherous terrain, I had an amazing idea that I still think is amazing today. I pretended the steering wheel had locked and we had no brakes. If you ever want to try this I suggest using the clutch as the failed brake pad. Nobody ever checks to see what you”€™re frantically pushing on. “€œOh my fucking God you guys”€ I cried, “€œThe steering wheel won”€™t move and I can”€™t brake!”€ They were too stoned to analyze the probability of both things failing and in fact, jumped right to phase ten of this problem which is screaming real loud. Actually, Steve went way past that and into mourning. That’s right. When I looked to my right and pretended to panic, I saw Eric hollering at the top of his lungs like we were already going over the cliff. He had somehow sunk his fingernails into the dashboard and was holding on for dear life. When I checked the rear view mirror I saw a crying Steve simply staring at the ground and letting the tears hit the floor mats. He told me later he was focused on his parents reading the paper the next day and seeing “€œThree Local Boys Dead in Tragic Car Accident.”€

I took a Sharpie and drew a moustache on a baby’s face at a dinner party in the country.

I let the car stray all the way off the road and into the gravel that led up to the barrier on the edge of a particularly steep mountain. Then I put on the parking brake, hit the hazards and buried my face in my hands to commence one of the loudest laughs I had ever laughed up to that point. Eric started acting like Big Bird if he was C-3PO and on meth and kept saying, “€œAre you? Wait. Did you? Wait. What? You never? Wait.”€ Then Steve finally said, “€œThat is not cool, man. Not cool at all.”€ Eric stopped clucking and broke into the exact same laughter I was having. He was so happy to be alive, he didn”€™t mind I had given him primal screams. After about three long minutes of endless laughing Steve managed to eek out a few chortles but man did Eric and I go for it. We almost died.


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