Editor’s Desk

Posted 4/5/22

FROM THE Giggling at the worst times No matter my age, a part of me will always be the mischievous little girl giggling in church when I’m supposed to be quiet. The kind of laugh that starts deep …

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Editor’s Desk



Giggling at the worst times

No matter my age, a part of me will always be the mischievous little girl giggling in church when I’m supposed to be quiet. The kind of laugh that starts deep in your bones and bubbles out the harder you try to suppress it as you sit in your pew silently shaking with tears streaming down your face. Yes, that is me. And why do those laughs always come at the most inopportune and inappropriate times? Maybe it’s some kind of coping mechanism, I don’t know. I’ve gotten a bit better at controlling these fits of hilarity, but they still sneak up on me once in a while.

Case in point: This weekend was one of theater for the Nigbor clan. My 12-year-old son performed in Viking Middle School’s musical “Freaky Friday.” He did a fabulous job and looked pretty cool in his leather jacket; there were no mishaps that I saw. My daughter and my 11-year-old son performed a play called “The Woman Who Owned the West” with their 4-H club in the Performing Arts Festival in River Falls. Both are shy in front of a crowd, so I was really proud of them for stepping outside their comfort zones to do this.

In the play, TV and newspaper reporters are vying for a chance to interview Miss Maggie Bates, a woman who allegedly owns the West thanks to her ancestors’ deed. My son played a TV reporter who had two camera crew assistants. When I saw the black cord from their prop camera snaked across the floor, I had visions of children tumbling in my head. It was a disaster waiting to happen, especially with two squirrelly little boys playing the crew who couldn’t keep still to save their lives. But alas, it wasn’t the cord that was the first boy’s demise, but a white pole that made up the prop door. I didn’t see exactly what happened, but next thing we know he is knocked flat on the floor, feet flying in the air.

The show went on as he nonchalantly picked himself up off the floor with nary a peep, but a stunned look on his face. I give that little guy a lot of credit, because he didn’t cry nor make a fuss. Maybe he knew he’d been playing with fire not keeping still and he was struck down.

I kept my giggles in check at first, though I knew I had a gigantic smile plastered on my face. Being a stoic Scandinavian, you’d think I’d be better at controlling my facial expressions, but I am not. In fact, I’m terrible at it. My face is an open book and I cannot keep a smile from erupting if I find something funny.

Then I made the fatal mistake of looking at my 15-year-old son and his aunt, and I lost it. They were both shaking silently with their heads tucked down, as many others were. I had to spend the last part of the play hiding behind my hair, thinking somber thoughts, trying to quell the bubbling laughter in my body. It was terrible. And I sure didn’t want that poor little guy to see people in the audience laughing. How do you explain that you’re not laughing at him, but at the moment because you’re not supposed to be laughing. It’s complicated. I even thought of my grandma’s stern face glaring at me, the way she used to do in church when I was giggling during the sermon. Nothing worked.

The worst giggling fit I ever had happened about 20 years ago when I was a bridesmaid in a wedding. The groom’s heart was in the right place, but he sang a warbling song to his bride that would have made a saint cry. He was so off-key that I frankly didn’t recognize the tune. It also lasted for what seemed an eternity, as I had to stand stone-faced in front of a packed congregation, pretending the song was moving me to tears because it was so touching. The tears were from suppressing laughter and praying it would soon end. God must’ve been too busy at that moment, because my prayers went unanswered. I had to turn toward the altar as my shoulders heaved and I tried desperately to control myself.

It didn’t help when I looked out over the church and saw many suffering my same ailment. At least I wasn’t alone, but what a terrible bridesmaid I’d be if I let out an unladylike guffaw during the groom’s shining tribute. That was the longest 10 minutes of my life.

I like to think as I get older, I’m wiser and more mature. But please forgive me if you ever witness one of these moments of mine. It doesn’t come from a cruel place, but something snaps in me on the maturity chain and lets loose.