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How Much Is Laughter Really Worth?

By Dr. James L. Snyder

Ocala, FloridaDr. james snyder



Of all the things I prioritize in my life, laughter is at the top of the list. I appreciate laughter more than any other thing.

Some people get paid for their jokes, while others pay mightily. I am in the latter category. I like to make people laugh, but sometimes it costs me.

Whenever I see somebody with a frown, my first thought is how to make that person laugh. If it’s in the supermarket and they’re walking down the aisle toward me, I put in gear something to make them laugh. Usually, it works, but once in a while, it doesn’t.

Where my jokes don’t fly too well is with The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. I try the best I can to make her laugh, and occasionally, I succeed. When I fail, there is a price to be paid.

For example, our birthdays are two days apart in July. We celebrated our birthdays at one of our favorite restaurants this past year.

After finishing our dinner, they brought dessert, and then The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage looked at me and said, “Do you feel old today?”

I have difficulty taking things seriously, so I reached across the table, took hold of her arm, squeezed it very gently, and said, “I feel old now.”

You might be surprised I was the only one laughing at the table.

Getting into trouble with some joke is not that bad. I haven’t gotten into too much trouble, but once in a while, I do.

Like everybody else, I get these scam calls, particularly concerning Medicare upgrades. I should be grateful that so many people want to help me upgrade my Medicare program. And yet, being a Pennsylvania Dutchman, I don’t trust people who want to give me something for free.

I got a call the other day, and they wanted to upgrade my Medicare plan so that I had everything I deserved. Then they asked me how old I was. That was the switch that turned on the light bulb in my head.

“I really don’t know,” I said as thoughtfully as possible, “every year my age changes and I just can’t keep up to date with it.”

There was a pause on the other end of the phone line, and finally, that person started speaking French and told me a lot about my mother. Then there came the “click.”

I laughed and used it several times since.

Several weeks ago, I had a dental appointment to fix some of my teeth. I can’t imagine being a dentist and spending my whole career looking into people’s mouths, especially me with bad breath.

I went into the office on my appointed day, signed in, and then took a seat.

Shortly, the lady at the desk asked me to come forward. I did not quite know what she wanted.

She showed me a file and asked, “Is this you?”

I looked at the file, looked back at her, and said, “No, that is not me.”

Looking a little frustrated, she said maybe she got the wrong file.

“No,” I said, looking at her. Then I pointed to my chest and said to her, “This is me and that is just paper with my name on it.”

People sitting in the waiting room started giggling, and finally, the lady at the desk got what I said and started laughing. “So,” she said laughing, “this paper is not you.”

I love it when a plan comes together.

In minutes, I was called to go in, and one of the dentist’s assistants took me to the room to prepare me for the process. There was a long process, and she did everything but throw me over the moon.

Finally, she finished her work, and the dentist came in. I had three teeth that needed to be worked on. The first thing he did was to give some numbing shots in my mouth, and everything went numb. Then, he was ready to do the work.

I sat in that chair for maybe an hour with my mouth open and the dentist on one side of me poking in and his assistant on the other side doing what she was supposed to do, and it was a long process. The dentist talked to me, but I was in such a position that I couldn’t answer back.

His assistant on my left side was doing an excellent job, at least I think so, but my mouth was so numb I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Finally, the process was over, and the assistant, a very nice young lady, asked me, “How do you feel now?”

I didn’t have to think, but I responded immediately, “I feel like a woman.”

The assistant looked at me with wonder and said, “What?”

“I feel like a woman because my mouth has been open for such a long time.”

It took a while for her to get it, and she did not think it qualified for laughter.

I tried to laugh, but my mouth was so numb I could hardly talk.

Later that day, I was reminded of what the Bible says. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

Much of our problems can be dealt with through a merry heart. We look for artificial medicine that does not get to the heart of our problems.


Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone 1-352-216-3025, e-mail, website

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