The Church Giggle

The Church Giggle

The Church Giggle was an expert villain. It started quiet, tiptoeing tactfully in the shadows, then struck swiftly, leaving no survivors in its wake.

I sat next to my sister, Emily, in a wooden pew, our crisp skirts folded around our knees. We had shared our moments of brief giggles during church services in the past, but this morning we were determined to behave. We would be tranquil, attentive, and wholesome. We would prove to ourselves that we were mature 20-some-year-olds that didn’t laugh at childish things.

During the first half hour of the service, Emily snorted a nasally laugh out of the blue. I reprimanded her with large eyes and a slap on the knee. “Stay strong,” I whispered, and she pulled herself together. I sighed with relief, thinking we were in the clear. But little did we know that The Church Giggle had already targeted us as victims.

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The service switched to communion, and I watched a man walk to the front to serve bread. His shoulders were broad, with skin like dark leather and blue eyes. He reminded me of someone, some character I had seen on television. All of a sudden it connected: he was a spitting image of David Hasselhoff, the actor that depicted a hunky lifeguard on the 1990 series Baywatch.

I whispered the epiphany to Emily, who followed my eyes to the server. Of course, verbalizing my thought was a mistake. I felt a bubble of a giggle rise in my throat, the first cold fingers of The Giggle. Emily, too, brought a hand to her mouth and our cheeks bulged with the early stages of suppressed laughter. I tried to think of something sad or terrible to stifle the approaching attack, but all I could picture was the image of David Hasselhoff serving Holy Communion in red swimming trunks.

The danger with The Church Giggle is that once it catches its prey, it holds them captive to a vicious, unstoppable cycle of laughter. First, our slight snickers turned into coughs. Next, the coughs turned into fat tears that streamed down our faces. Finally, the tears turned into the deadliest form of all laughter: the silent laugh. The kind where the question isn’t if a burst of laughter will break the silence, but when.

Our silent laughs finally did burst forth in the middle of the communion prayer. The laughs had sought freedom for an hour, so when they came, they were deep and accompanied by snorts. Old ladies glared over their grape juice and our mother’s eyes widened in horror. Emily and I knew we were bad, in fact, we could probably write a sermon then and there on all the ways we were being disrespectful. But we still couldn’t stop. The Church Giggle blinded us so that every small thing was hilarious.

Communion ended with two young women sneaking out of the sanctuary to gain composure.

Later, a friend asked us what we were laughing at.

“I don’t know,” we replied. “The giggles just got to us.”

Somewhere in the corner, The Church Giggle flashed a proud smirk and crept on to its next victim.

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