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Topic: Exams (07/26/04)
TITLE: The Science of Laughter
By Deborah Anderson
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Mr. Shipley was our Science teacher. He was a pudgy fellow who always wore polyester slacks that were too tight and too short with a clean, white shirt tucked inside. Bright, white socks finished the ensemble above his black, leather shoes. His hair was buzzed in a crew cut, while thick-framed glasses adorned his chubby face.
“Both of you; in your corners now!” he yelled.
Sandy and I were best friends. Sadly enough for Mr. Shipley, we were also partners in his beloved Science class. Sandy and I had a way of finding humor in everything. The only drawback to these attributes of ours was the fact that we ended up in many precarious predicaments.
Mr. Shipley was at the front of the class with his trusty sidekick, Mr. Yardstick. Pacing back and forth while waving his yardstick, he explained in great detail the rules for the exam that was about to ensue. Sandy and I sat patiently enduring this lecture at our two-seated desk amid the rest of the class. I was twirling my pencil back and forth over my fingers pretending it was a baton. Becoming bored, I took out a piece of notebook paper and began doodling. I drew the head of a cartoon character, and above it wrote “Mr. Shipley.” I quietly slid the paper over to Sandy without looking; knowing this would amuse her. I had no idea how much.
The laughter that emerged from Sandy echoed through the classroom. Her laughter was so intense she could not speak. I too, was speechless, which rarely happened. I looked up at Mr. Shipley and his friend Mr. Yardstick. Mr. Shipley was not happy, and Mr. Yardstick was waving and threatening both of us.
“Sandy!” Mr. Shipley retorted, “What is it, that you find so amusing?”
I looked at Mr. Shipley with a dash of innocence and shrugged my shoulders. All Sandy could do was howl uncontrollably, as she struggled to hold up the piece of paper.
“Do you have something you would like to share with the rest of the class Sandy?” Mr. Shipley inquired.
“It-It-It’s just a picture,” was all she could muster out while bubbling over with laughter.
“Well then, bring it up here and share it with the rest of us,” he said with his voice rising.
Sandy arose from her chair. I forgot to mention that my friend had some issues whenever she laughed too hard. Her whole body would first turn to a Jell-O like state, at which point she would have to cross her legs to keep from having an accident. Sandy stood, took three steps down the center aisle of the class, collapsed on the floor, crossed her legs, and cackled hysterically.
THUD! I finally broke down. I too, doubled over, leaving my head landing on my desk producing this whopping sound. I had now joined ranks with my friend. I also, lost the ability of speech as well.
“Stop this now!” yelled Mr. Shipley; “This is a Science class, not a Comedy Theater!” “Get up off that floor and bring me that paper immediately!” he said with urgency to my partner. She finally managed to pull herself up off the floor. She staggered to the front and held out the paper to Mr. Shipley. He yanked the paper from her fingers and glared at it.
“Debbie?” he asked wryly, “Are you the artist of this masterpiece?”
Sandy had finally managed to control herself up to this point, as she was still standing upright. However, when this question was put before me, and she saw the blank look on my face, she went down again.
“It was just a joke,” I implored loudly.
“YOU, HERE, NOW!” he shouted.
As I approached, we were sent to separate corners. As hard as we both tried, the laughter had already become infectious, and our choking sounds to conceal it only made it obvious.
Whack! Mr. Yardstick had finally landed on a nearby desk. “Get out of my class!” said Mr. Shipley, “And you both get zeros.” We learned that day that laughter was not appropriate before an exam.
That year Mr. Shipley signed our yearbooks. He referred to us as the “Bobsey Twins.” He wrote that he really enjoyed our antics. Truth is, we enjoyed him too. Go figure.