Stifle a sneeze might crack a rib, What about supressing a laugh?

It is mostly considered an old wives tale, that if you hold in a sneeze, the force is enough to crack a rib, or even worse..

There is truth behind the rumor, if you see a slow-mo of a sneeze (disgustingly, below):

Conservative estimates place the speed of release at around 100mph. However, the data collected from the 147th episode of Mythbusters titled ‘Flu Fiction’, concluded that the speed is closer to 35-40 mph, and that a sneeze can launch droplets from 15 to 20 feet.

Ok, so I’m no doctor, but my chest does hurt if I ever stifle a sneeze, so I take that as a bad sign, just let loose, but always, ALWAYS use a hankie! To those who sneeze in public, keep your germs to yourself, vermin!

I digress, the question I want to ask is, what about supressing laughter?

As you can probably tell, I’m generally a Laugh Out Loud kinda guy. I love Laughing. Laughter is definately the best medicine, I wake up early to watch comedies in the morning to go to work with a smile. It really is a powerful, powerful weapon, the smile.

However, there is a dark side..

The year was 2003, I was in my second year of uni, enjoying the cred that came with no longer being a freshman.

I was late for one of my first lectures, Operations Management. The professor was a cool lady, she let me in without admonishing me, and I apologised after the lecture was over for my impromptu arrival. All was well, good first impression right? Wrong!

Later that week we were discussing manufacturing processes. And the topic of the production line came up, you know, like cars. One person fits the doors, the other welds them in, then someone sticks on the wheels, etc etc etc. It was first patented by Henry Ford, the grandfather of all automobiles. He also had an excellent marketing motto “you can have any color you want so long as it is black”.

So, here I am, sitting in the lecture hall, the sun is shining, the people are concentrating, my mind wanders and I start flipping ahead in the text-book. I come across another production line. At Pepsi’s factory.

Now, the thing about laughter is, its all about the situation. You can tell one joke in one environment and receive a cold response, you can tell the same joke in a different environment and receive a rolling ovation.

The picture was simple, it was something like this but not exactly:

Now, I had already established myself as an intellectual of sorts, answering questions etc so as to cover up my late arrival. So, the professor knew my name. Here I am, looking at this photo,  and the following image pops into my mind, nothing fancy, but..

A guy standing at the end of the production line, with a garden hose and spraying pepsi into the empty bottles.

To me, that was hilarious. At first I had the giggles. Like trying to stifle a sneeze, then it built up, like trying to hold in a cough. But as with water, once the flow starts, it is impossible to stop. I started releasing little “laughlets”, my face was turning beet-root red, I didn’t know what to do!

The professor must have heard my weak sound effects and, out of concern, asked if  was ok.

I had to let it out.

At this point all eyes were on me, turning me a raging shade of red, enough to encourage a gore from a bull in Pamplona.

I signalled that I needed a minute, ducked my head under the table and literally LMAO. Everyone could see me, but, its better to be laughed at than have a heart attack, which is what I was on the verge of!

After the episode had passed, I casually sat back up, and told the professor “I’m ok now, please continue”.

…. Awkward.

After the rest of the people had their laugh, as did the professor, she indeed did.

Luckily, we were on good terms by then, had it been a dude, I most probably would have been kicked out and asked never to show my face again, but I was refered to as “laughing boy” from that point forward. And our paths crossed again in my Fourth year!

Always remember, it is important to laugh from the heart, when you get the giggles, let em out, the more you hold them in, the stronger it will hit you in the end.

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