It was a Monday night at the college where I studied theology. I took a break from the work I was doing in my room because my friend Sarah had ask me to go to the Laundry. She needed me to take her clothes out of the washing machine and put them in the dryer, while she was studying in the Library.
So, I walked to the Laundry and went to the machines. But Sarah’s washing wasn’t there. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I appreciate that this isn’t particularly funny. But I must have been overworking my brain, because I started to get the giggles. Off I went towards the Library, snickering. It only got worse as I went along. On reaching the Library, the word SILENCE hung above the doors. Oh dear goodness. Deep breath in. Control, Lucy control. I entered the Library. I wasn’t actively giggling but alas, I still had the giggles. They were rippling up from inside – I had simply clamped my mouth shut.
Seeing Sarah made it worse. Quite what my expression was I can’t say. But staggering up to her table – I opened my mouth to speak. How can I explain in writing the noise that came out of me? Try breathing in and saying ahhhhh really loudly at the same time. Imagine it ten times louder.
ERRRRRRRRPPPPPPPP! I cried.
I had done it. I had barked like a giant seal in the library. Everyone looked at me in amazement. Monday evening was a busy time in the library. Every table was full. Feeling dreadful, but unable to control the state of my voice, “SORRY!!!” I shrieked, and turned tail and ran.
Sarah was hot on my heels, gasping with laughter.
We collapsed in the outside corridor, much to the alarm of other passing students. It took a very long time for me to get the words out.
Eventually, Sarah’s washing was found.
A week later. A Monday night. Sarah was in the library, I had agreed to go to the Laundry. She had asked me to transfer her clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. Memories of the previous week were already causing flickers of amusement inside me as I entered the Laundry. I opened the machine – her clothes were there! I reached in and – they were dry. She had forgotten to turn the machine on. Already too far gone with laughter for any good to come out of this, I switched the machine on and hurtled towards the Library. I appreciate that I didn’t have to do this. I could have taken the safe method and gone back to my room to calm down. I should have known. But, this was me. And this was Sarah. Sarah and I are the kind of friends who automatically gravitate towards each other when any kind of hilarity occurs. I could not overcome it.
So off I went, back into the main building, sniggering through reception and lurching unsteadily into the Lecturer’s Corridor (where they had their offices). There was actually a Lecturer in the corridor at the time, who gave me a look of such puzzled amusement that my mild hysteria increased still further.
SILENCE! Pronounced the board above the Library. Impossible.
I swung through the doors, making strange, gasping hiccupy sounds. Mercifully Sarah saw me coming this time, launched out of her seat (already infected with hysteria herself). She herded me out of the library and we both collapsed in the corridor outside, immobile with laughter.
This is a feature of our friendship. I remember a time when we were on one of the staircases; I clutched at the rails, sobbing with laughter, unable to stand. Sarah was even worse than me, collapsed against the wall making mewing noises. What was the joke? You’ve got me. Frankly, there didn’t even have to be one.
Another occasion we were in Sarah’s room and some amusement brought us to the state of lying on the floor, snuffling with laughter. ‘I just snorted carpet up my nose!’ giggled Sarah. And henceforth we refer to the ‘sort of friend you can snort carpet with’, which sounds a little dubious (!) but simply means a friend with whom you laugh so hard you are rendered helpless on the floor.
It is a friendship that was meant to be. Early in our acquaintance I was sitting in my room and heard this strange snickering noise outside. My room in the first year was opposite the kitchen. On further exploration, I discovered Sarah helpless with laughter in the kitchen sink, with the window blind on her head. It had fallen down, and she was trying to sort it out. Naturally, I was soon up on the draining board with her.
It isn’t only laughter that binds us, of course. We have cried a good many tears with each other since those early days, and wailed over embarrassments and days which have all gone wrong…I still remember Sarah launching through my door and crashing onto my bed and burrowing into it; likewise the time I stumbled, agonised, into her room and buried my head in the first thing I came to – her towel (!)
I will finish up with one last story (there are many!!) Sarah and I had this uncanny knack of ending up in the toilets at the same time. Many times I would go into a cubicle and suddenly become aware of this sniffling noise (try giggling without using your vocal chords and with your mouth closed – you’ve got it). We would both make this sound when we suspected the identity of the other person, and on hearing the sound the other would roar with delighted laughter.
That’s not the story, that’s the scene setting (!) It so happened Sarah and I were in Borders one day and went to find the toilets. One was out of order, so i went in first while she stood outside by the sink. I had to change my top, for some reason. I cannot for the life of me remember why, but still. Making a joke about the fact we were in the toilets together, I started mock laughing very loudly.
‘HA HA HA!’ I roared. ‘HO HO HO!’ Then, ‘I’M TAKING MY TOP OFF NOW! HA HA HA!’
Sarah was laughing outside but something was wrong. She was laughing quietly. I paused. ‘Sarah?’ I queried.
‘Yes?’ she replied.
‘Are you alone?’
‘Ah,’ I said, calmly. ‘OK.’
The awful thing was that because the other loo was out of order, I had to come out of the cubicle (Sarah dashed in, purple with amusement), and then had to calmly wash my hands while the other woman stared straight ahead of her with a closed expression…but every now and then there was a faintest twitch on her lips….
Sarah, this entry is for you 🙂