What could I do? Is it a crime to laugh? OK, so I was by myself… sort of. I was in Norwalk’s TD North Bank to take care of a couple of things. Just one person standing at the teller’s counter. The teller. And two other bank officers (?) sitting at desks in the open area of the bank. And me. I was filling out a deposit slip when a tidbit of memory hit me… and it began. A smile first, then a giggle escaped… then my mind, without any direction from me, hit the “replay button”… another giggle… this one longer, another replay… I shake my head trying to move to other things… another replay, the memory comes back into deeper focus, now a full laugh… and now I am in deep trouble. All I can think of is this TV commercial from some 40 years ago, and I am standing in a bank, by myself, filling out a deposit slip and laughing, and that maybe, just maybe… the other people in the bank have no clue what’s going on. Sure, at this point I am self aware, but the damn commercial keeps playing in my head and I try to stifle the next laugh… which makes an even more disruptive sound.
So… what are the other people in the bank thinking, seeing a man off by himself laughing? Well… it’s one of a couple of things. A. He is deranged. B. He is deranged and he has an Uzi under his poncho and we are all about to die! C. He’s just an old dude and he is peeing in his pants.
Oh, did I mention that I had brought into the bank a cardboard tube, that originally housed a bottle of Auchentoshen Single Malt Whisky, but now contained 15lbs of coins? TD Bank has one of those coin converter things. And I begin to walk over to that machine… smiling and laughing… maybe those other folks are thinking, “he doesn’t have an Uzi… he has a pipe bomb!”
I should also point out that I had a very similar incident about 25 years ago. On this other occasion I was standing on line at the Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust on the corner of 44th St. & Fifth Ave, when a joke that I had recently added to my repertoire kept coming into my head. As is my custom, I was trying to get down the timing of the joke. I kept going over its pauses and points of emphasis in my head. Gosh it’s real funny joke… and there I am standing on line, talking to no one else, clearly alone… and laughing in a rather obvious manner (did I tell you that it was a very funny joke?).
Well… this is in New York. A rather big bank. And a rather large number of people were in there at the time. And unlike TD Bank North in Norwalk… this bank had a Guard with a side arm. And after a minute or two of laughing to myself, it was apparent that everyone who had been standing near me had moved several feet away… and I now had the bank dick standing 18″ in back of me, tapping me on the shoulder with his left hand, with his right hand poised on his revolver, asking, “Sir? Is there something wrong?”
So I had to tell the Guard the joke.
I can’t recall if he thought the joke was as funny as I did… but I attribute that to his sense of relief that I didn’t have an Uzi or that I didn’t pee on the floor.
This time, as I walked over to the coin-o-matic, chuckling pretty good, Marguerita, the teller with a friendly smile (who I see just about every week), catches sight of me, pauses for a minute… and she smiles, then she let’s out a giggle… I laugh a little more, then she laughs even more, and tries to stifle the next one… then the lawn maintenance guy standing at the counter he begins to laugh. Even the stick-in-the-mud manager sitting at his desk…he’s shaking his head and smiling, and then he begins to laugh, too. The entire place is laughing. And I am the only one who knows the commercial.
Thank you YouTube for allowing me to share this. It’s a minute of pure creative genius.
I’m thinking that I might not be alone in this “laughing-to-yourself-in-public” thing. And even if it hasn’t happened to you before, it could happen in the future. First, I recommend that you don’t walk into a bank laughing if you are carrying a bazooka. Second, if you must laugh, I recommend that you have a brief joke or anecdote prepped that you can immediately share, to allay the fears of the staring and concerned citizens that maybe nearby. “Hah, hah, hah! I just remembered that I forgot to put my Grumpy Underoos in the wash! Hah, hah, hah”.
Brief, however, has never been my forte.
The joke I told the guard:
“There’s this business executive who commutes on the train. Greenwich to Grand Central in the morning, Grand Central to Greenwich in the evening. Every day, every week, every year. For him the train is his time… neither at work dealing with problems, nor at home dealing with problems. He actually looks forward to being on the train! In the morning he reads the New York Times, on the ride home The Wall Street Journal.
“On one particular ride home, he was sitting in the “club seats” that face each other, deeply involved in his reading. Without his notice, he is joined by an older teenager who sits opposite from him.
“The train pulls out of Grand Central and when the conductor comes by to collect tickets, the executive lowers his paper, and takes note of the teenager across from him.
“The boy has several tattoos, and piercings… ears, lower lip, right nostril, both eyebrows. Half is head is shaved, the other side is spiked up on top like a stegosaurus, with dreads cascading well below his right shoulder. The spikes are coloured purple and the dreads orange.
“The executive stares silently at the kid, unable to go back to his reading.
“The kid stares back. And finally says to the guy, ‘Hey, man! What ‘your starin’ at?'”
“The executive takes off his reading glasses, ‘I’m staring at you!'”
“And the kid says, ‘Hey! What’s buggin’ you? Weren’t you young once? Hey, didn’t you do real exciting things when you were younger? Real fun and crazy things?'”
“And the man says, ‘As a matter of fact I did. When I was your age, I fucked a parrot once. And what worries me is that maybe you’re my kid.'”