The Disturbingly Cheerful Person’s Guide To Maniacal Laughter

I think the high point of my social life was a dinner I attended several decades ago when the after dinner speeches were interrupted by someone going off on a laughing jag. I lead a sheltered existence and this was the first encounter I had with this sort of thing.

Oh, I’ve seen Disney villains before and I knew that Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha was pretty standard when they had the good guys trapped in their lair. But a suburban hotel dining room hardly qualifies as a lair and when you hear it floating out over the cheesecake and coffee it can be a bit startling. When it changes to a cackle and then settles into a long series of shrieks – that never stop – you know you are not in Kansas anymore…

I did not see exactly how it was stopped – though after five minutes there seemed to be a scuffle and a series of yowlps and it went relatively quiet. I hope they did not need a wet canvas waistcoat. And I know nothing of the subsequent history.

The oddest thing about it all was the reactions of the diners at the various tables. There just is no social convention for this sort of thing. I cannot remember if I said anything, but I can describe the cornices of that dining room in minute detail to this day, and I suspect others can too.


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