Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are sacred to me. In my limited schedule, I don’t have the time to go home and cook. Instead, I strategically plan my meals around restaurants where I will be when I think there will be time to eat.
This was late one morning and it was a rough time working at the clinic. I knew that the afternoon likely would be even rougher since I’d be working in the Intensive Care Unit. When I called a friend to decompress, he happened to be in the same vicinity as I was. So, we decided to meet for lunch.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we sat in a corner booth in the back. My friend hurriedly looked at the vast menu for what would satisfy his hunger. Being a strategic planner, I already knew what I was going to order since the moment that I left clinic.
While he looked at the menu, the hum of the restaurant’s chatter was pierced by what I could only describe as a hyena on laughing gas. Actually, it was a laugh. It made my skin curdle and made me want to cower in a hole.
My friend popped his head above the menu. With a look of disdain on his face, he rolled his eyes to signal that he was also annoyed.
Then the waitress arrived with a basket of bread — something I’ve sworn off eating. Not my friend. He dove into the bread face first, surely hoping that his chewing would rescue him from hearing the incessant laughter.
We both tried to discuss our mornings at work, but that laughter only added to my stress. I found it really difficult to relax and decompress. My friend and I realized that this was a losing battle.
So, what was all the laughing about?
Apparently, the woman laughing so incessantly was also suffering from a rough day or perhaps a rough week. Who was her table partner? He was an unknown stand-up comedian trying to make her feel better by telling her joke after joke.
My friend and I listened to both her forced laughter and his lack of talent. The comedian definitely was running low on good material.
We heard the comedian ask how she was feeling. She replied that she felt better. Then the comedian told her, “My mama always said that laughter was the best medicine.”
I looked across the table at my friend and said, “Clearly, we are in the placebo group!”
My friend laughed so hard, he spat his mouthful of salad on his plate and tried to catch his breath. His reaction made me laugh uncontrollably, too.
Actually, I had heard that phrase (“Clearly, we are in the placebo group!”) on a television episode of Frasier years ago.
It made me laugh aloud then – despite being by myself at the time. I’d hoped that I would have the opportunity to share this brilliant line with someone in the future and this was the perfect time!
Key Point: Maybe this unknown stand-up comedian’s mother was right after all — Laughter is the best medicine. It absolutely was the best medicine for us that challenging day.