I’m not a social person. I’ve never felt a deep, pressing urge to be surrounded by an entire crowd of people to call friends or companions. However, I have felt it, if not for only a short time. And all I did was laugh.
I stood in a large circle of kids that spanned over the entire large black stage, although I knew hardly any of them. The only ones I was familiar with were my sister Ella, whom I had taken the liberty to stand next to, and a boy from my school named Rafael, who was standing elsewhere in the large ring. As everyone was conversing, a man with brown hair and a beard walked in to the center. It was Chris, the director of the musical that I and the rest of the kids here were participating in.
“Okay, guys. Welcome to our first day together!” Everyone started to whoop and applaud so I joined in as well, not wanting to be rude. Chris continued.
“First, I want to go ahead and introduce you guys to your teachers and managers. Here we have…” He then went on to introduce the rest of the teachers, as each one came forward and identified themselves. After they had been presented, Chris started again. “Right then. Let’s go ahead with stretches and vocal exercises.” Rhonda, a young woman with long, blonde hair tied up in a ponytail replaced Chris as he walked out. She smiled, clapping her hands together.
“Okay, you guys ready?” We started through a series of toe touches, bending, and miscellaneous other contortions while standing in place. There were several jokes thrown around that clearly everyone but me seemed to understand, but I ignored them and simply continued to stretch. Soon after, Rhonda was soon replaced by Jenny, another blonde woman, although this woman seemed somewhat older and had different streaks of brown in her hair. She flashed a gleaming set of paper-white teeth, hands clasped behind her back.
“ ‘Yall ready?” she asked in a cowgirl/Barbie doll-like tone. She had us do the “egg-swallowing” exercise, in which you were required to make a whale-like noise that was supposedly supposed to get your larynx to go down so that you could sing more comfortably. Once she had demonstrated it several times, the walls reverberated with the sound of whale calls, echoing loudly. Pretty soon, the exercise was over and the center person was replaced once again although it was neither a woman nor a blonde this time. This time it was Michael, a gangly man with short brunette hair and large eyes that bulged out so far they threatened to fall out of their sockets. When he walked over to the center he had a slight swagger in his step that caught my eye for some reason. He let his arms plop down to his sides then just as quickly propped them up on his hips.
“Alright, we’re going to play a little game to get you nice and warmed up for today.” The game was simple: One person would make up some sort of weird action and sound and everyone would try to copy it as well as they could. Once, it reached the last person, the next person would make up a new action and sound, etc.
Pretty soon, everyone was doing dozens of silly things and ululating strange sounds, changing the slightly tired air that was about us into a laughing gas. Soon, it was my turn. Pent up full of energy, I spun in place and let out a shrill whoop. But as I did, I noticed that the stage manager, Ashley, had also jumped in beside me and started to make up her own action at the same time. We looked at each other, a silence filling the air for half a second. Suddenly, everyone burst out laughing, Ashley and I among the loudest. We gave each other a small high-five, our eyes slightly tearing up from the immense guffawing, then returned to the game.
In only the first few minutes, this indiscriminate array of kids and adults had suddenly become family just by sharing something with them. The incredible thing that I’ve found about laughter is how much everyone can relate to it. No matter who you are, you’ve laughed at least once in your life and felt that faint euphoric feeling of happiness, no matter how brief, and those small moments of happiness that are shared with others are always kept deep within as a reminder of that small episode of your life where you couldn’t imagine yourself among better people. I know that I won’t.
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