When did I stop laughing?

It turns out that youth is not the only thing wasted on the young.

Mark Anthony

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Photo by mikhail marchenko on Unsplash

George Bernard Shaw famously once wrote: “Youth is the most precious thing in life. It is too bad it has to be wasted on young folk.”

The older I get, the more I agree with the basic sentiment.

But youth isn’t the only valuable resource afforded to the wrong people at the wrong time.

Take sex, for example. During my promiscuous teenage years, I knew nothing. I was surrounded by young ladies in the very prime of their beauty, and I was a fumbling buffoon. How different things could have been. To paraphrase Luther Vandross: “If I knew back then, what I know now. If I’d understood the what, when, why and how”. Believe me, I would have been a very popular young guy.

I feel the same about laughter.

There were times when I was younger when I found myself literally helpless with laughter. On more than one occasion, I laughed so hard that my knees gave way, and I continued to laugh from the ground.

When I was younger, I laughed so hard that tears would stream down my face. Sometimes, I laughed so hard that I lost the ability to make sound — I would stand open-mouthed; the rapid rise and fall of my shoulders the only indication that I was laughing and had not experienced a serious malfunction.

I saw the comedian Lee Evans long before he was famous. He made me laugh so hard and for so long that I had no option but to buy the DVD of the event, purely so I could see the jokes I had missed.

When I was 18, I laughed so hard at a TV show that it brought on a full-blown asthma attack that required a trip to the hospital; pretty impressive given that I wasn’t actually an asthmatic at the time.

Now? Oh sure, I still laugh. Well, I say that but it’s more of a chuckle. It begins and ends in my throat. My youthful laugher once emanated from somewhere just slightly south and to the left of my belly and it appeared to come from a bottomless well.

Am I less easily amused these days? Have I heard all the jokes and seen all the pratfalls? Did I use up my allotted ration of laughter as a teenager? Or has the weight of age, experience and responsibility just forced the laughter from my body?

I don’t know the answer. All I do know is that when I see a young person helpless with laughter, I am envious. I miss laugher almost as much as I miss my youth.

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Mark Anthony

Mark is a journalist, author, podcaster and daily live-streamer specialising in the field of demolition and construction.