I am a fairly composed person and behave appropriately in most situations. I demonstrate good manners and a respect for decorum and diplomacy. Unless something makes me laugh.
I regularly make a fool of myself on airplanes, letting out squeals and snorts while watching an in-flight Mr. Bean video short, or muffling howls during a hilarious scene from a Steve Carell movie. Recently, while reading A.A. Gill’s tongue-in-cheek review of Kentucky’s Creation Museum in Vanity Fair, I came close to being restrained by federal marshals.
There is something about an airplane that, for me, turns ordinary amusement into a full-blown uncontrollable spectacle. Perhaps it’s that people are already on edge, inconvenienced by security checkpoints and constrained by seatbelts in close quarters. An airline cabin is a place where howling and snorting just aren’t done.
Perhaps it’s the sanctity of a quiet space that pulls the pin on my explosive laughter. And I know it’s the same stifling sanctity that prompted Mary Richards’ painful laughing attack at Chuckles the Clown’s funeral in 1975. It was one of television’s most memorable scenes. A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants. Mary, I feel your pain.