I was maybe 17 or 18. The timeframe is a bit fuzzy. There was a group of "friends" that I hung out with for a small chapter of my life. Most of them went to my school. Some lived in my neighborhood. Some right on my street. There was a constant base of about a half a dozen of us with various other friends of friends rotating in and out at any given time.
One weekend night I found myself yet again in a park drinking beer and generally wasting my youth away with this group. We stood around in a makeshift circle discussing absolutely nothing of substance. It was general goofing off and a way to kill a night.
Cassie was a small, animated, ditzy blonde that lived a few blocks from me. I didn't really know her very well but would see her from time to time at gatherings such as this one.
During the conversation, for some reason Cassie took note of everyone's particular type of laugh and decided to go around the group and impersonate each person's distinct laugh. After about four or five impressions she came around to me and stopped short. She then said something to the effect—"Wait, you don't have a laugh." I probably denied it claiming that of course everyone has a laugh. Or maybe I demonstrated a fake laugh. I honestly don't remember how I reacted outwardly. Regardless, she quickly dismissed me and continued on around the circle and nobody gave it another thought.
Except me of course.
In her little oblivious, all-in-fun experiment, Cassie caused me to come to a painful realization—that I, in fact, did not have a laugh. It was not something that I had ever given thought to but she was spot on. I was capable of a small chuckle or giggle or whatever it's referred to but I didn't possess a grand belly laugh that comes naturally to most people and I still don't to this day. I believe I did when I was a small child. I remember laughing hard when being tickled by an adult or laughing uncontrollably with my fellow peers. That seemed to disappear in my teen years. Now, some thirty years later, the memory of Cassie's revelation still haunts me. I don't laugh. I don't have a laugh.
I do find humor in things. I've been told I have a dry sense of humor many times. I appreciate clever standup comedy or a well written comedic movie. But she was right. I don't laugh. It's a small, silly observation but one that is very telling. They say laughter is the best medicine. When I reflect on all the drugs I've taken to feel 'happy,' the one medicine missing has been laughter. I hope to find a prescription for it some day.