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Magazine

04 May 2020
Lack of Laughter

Sabina Urraca

When, exactly, did it happen? When did the shift take place and I pronounced it for the first time? ‘LOL’. I try to see myself in a hectic, heated, social situation. I even see my forehead shine, my slightly wild eyes (it was necessary to consume some substance in order to transcend above embarrassment and awkwardness, or to be elated, in a very humorous, sarcastic register, surrounded by people who understood it). But I’m forced to cross out the memory. I rewind. I unstick the tape of fiction, just as I was taught in the cinema club when I was 18, and I stick the reel of reality. I turn off the room’s lights and project: I have never said ‘LOL’. I guess that situates me in an age group, in a range. I settle in that group and smile. I’m wearing a sky-blue robe, a pair of slippers. Disclaimer: this is the first time in a text I refer to myself as an older lady and I smile with my first expression wrinkles. But that’s not entirely true either. I’m 36. I get comfortable on a vain adulthood in order to overtake time. Before an older age catches me and gnaws on me, I’m biting it first. I like imagining I will be at peace, I like thinking of myself as old and tranquil, I fake it from this moment. I explain this because my eagerness to pretend maturity isn’t that different from the eagerness of LOL: “I’m going to try to make it look like things don’t catch me entirely by surprise”.

I remember, with my heart in my throat, a screenshot spread on social media, in which a mum informed her daughter through WhatsApp that “Grandma passed away last night. LOL”. Aware of the horror of her daughter, who realised her mum had sent that same message to all close and extended relatives, the astounded mother confessed she thought ‘LOL’ meant ‘lots of love’. I guess that is actually being an older woman, and not me. When will my first blunder for misunderstanding a new term take place? Because I have never pronounced LOL other than in a distant way, playing someone else’s role, but I have thought of it, and especially I have felt it. I have also scrutinised the people who do pronounce it, and I know LOL is the only intelligent laughter, conveniently distant from emotion, almost aseptic, but without losing freshness and charm. LOL is like “I should be laughing, but my life is so knackering, my brain is so riddled with stimuli, that I understand I should now laugh, but it’s a laughter I can’t utter, because laughter is systole, diastole, convulsion, a surprise even for the body that emits it itself, and it is hard for me, child of the perpetual meme, to be genuinely surprised by something.”

Two years ago, in an allegedly modern bar, both impracticable and loud, full of people unable to communicate and dipping rye breadsticks in benedict egg yolks, I had been invited to for a meeting, my dog started jumping. She’s small, she jumps a lot, with tremendous energy, and she hovers in a way that both delights and scares people. I know she does it because she wants to be close to people’s heads, which is where important things happen. The waiter, a tall and awkward boy in his twenties, approached her while jumping. He was genuinely charmed, but behind a layer of petrified, beautiful magma, generational fluoride, he was perceived as extremely insecure. Happy to have caught someone’s attention, she jumped three times towards him. His eyes lit up at each of her jumps. And at each jump, his mouth opened up a bit more (though I wouldn’t call that a smile) making his lips look like a weird orchid with braces. And at each of her jumps, he uttered:

(Jumps)

LOL!

(Jumps)

LOL!

(Jumps)

LOL!

I understand you, lad. Life is ruthless, we all live on the edge of bullying. And even though I live life with that bare, unprotected laughter, even though I keep falling back on that choreography of having my body arched backwards, my mouth open, I have felt many times before that laughing was giving in. One time, my friend Arancha said to me: “It’s funny, Sabina, but your laughter is very close to wailing”. Laughter and its contrary coming up together, hand in hand to protect each other. Maybe, lad, my contradiction is just as strong as your protective showcase. I think of it like the rose in Beauty and the Beast, slowly withering, until the day comes in which your first adult guffaw overcomes you, or until you feel forced to express laughter when there truly isn’t any. But maybe you haven’t watched that film. It’s an old one. And in this last comment —But maybe you haven’t watched that film. It’s an old one—, it’s almost as if I have gone back to the sky-blue robe, to hold my toes tight to my slippers to hide in my fake experienced maturity.      But the truth is that this world scares me and I’ll probably become that lady that opens the door of her house and looks out with suspicion while she criss crosses the robe’s lapels wrapping it again, wrapping it tighter in order to keep everything safe. While she cautiously looks out to see everything that’s happening outside, but without going past the doorstep, she wraps the robe’s lapels three times:

(Wraps robe)

LOL!

(Wraps robe)

LOL!

(Wraps robe)

LOL!

(Illustrations by Choche Ezequiel https://www.instagram.com/choche_ezekielhurtado/)

Sabina Urraca was born in Donosti, grew up in Tenerife and lives in Madrid. She has worked as an insurance salesperson, tele-operator, public relations, TV and advertising creative, broadcaster and marijuana cutter. Although wikipedia says she is a journalist and writer, she feels like a phony in both fields. She likes to narrate, have ideas and write them down. She wrote a book, "The Girl Prodigy" (Fulgencio Pimentel, 2017) and is trying to write another one. In the meantime, he has discovered that what he is most passionate about is teaching writing and editing other people's texts.

Articles

04 May 2020

Lack of Laughter

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"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)