James couldn't laugh. And then he met a girl who couldn't cry.
|The Boy Who Never Laughed.
There was a boy named James, as there frequently is, but this James could not laugh.
Did he find things funny? Yes, of course. But in the same way you find things salty.
(Does that make sense to you? It doesn't make much sense to me.)
"That's funny," he would say when others were falling onto the ground and holding their stomachs they were laughing so hard.
"That's very amusing," he would say when others had tears coming out of their eyes and could not catch their breaths they were laughing so hard.
James was sad that he could not laugh.
He tried to laugh out loud. "Ha ha!" he would say, but it sounded more like a robot saying "ha ha" than a human laughing.
(Let me try that robot voice again. Ha ha. Ha hAh!. hAhh hAhhh)
One day, and it's always one day, though this one day was a Tuesday, his school decided to have a contest to see who could make James laugh. The winner would get a prize, though it doesn't matter what it was, since no one made James laugh.
But the local tv station heard about the contest and the boy who couldn't laugh and they showed the contest on tv that night. It was a line of children telling jokes or pulling silly facing or making silly sounds, one after another, and James, though he found some of the jokes and faces and sounds very funny, still not laughing.
As you can imagine, people all over town decided that they were special enough to make James laugh.
The next morning, when James got to school, there were hundreds of people, some with animals, lined up ready to try to make James laugh out loud.
There were people dressed like clowns. And dogs dressed like hamburgers.
There were people dressed like dogs. And dogs dressed like people.
And there was even a cat dressed half like a dog and half like a person.
(That I would like to see, but unsure it would make me laugh out loud.)
But mainly there was a long line of people ready to tell James jokes.
"Hey, James! I invented the number zero yesterday in school, but my teacher only said, 'thanks for nothing.'"
"Hey James! I lost my mood ring this morning and I don't know how I feel about that."
"Hey James! This is my magic dog." (The woman was pointing to a dog dressed like a wizard.) "He's a labracadabrador!"
(Let me try that again. Labra. Cabra-dabra. Door. Oh, like labrador but with cabra-dabra in the middle. ... Which is not funny.)
"Hey James! What is brown and sticky? A stick."
"Hey, James! Last night I accidentally swallowed some food coloring. I feel fine, but I think I dyed a little inside."
"Hey James! Phfeewee-wee-snnnnort!"
James found some of these funny, especially the 'mood ring' joke, but none made him laugh out loud.
(They did make him late to his first class, which made his History teacher annoyed.)
The next day, the line in front of the school was even bigger, the costumes were more elaborate, and the dogs and cats, oddly, were less hairy than the day before. Many were shaved bald.
And, also, the jokes were less funny.
The only one that made James nod and say, "That's funny." Was told by a squeaky-voiced old man.
"Hey James! What do you call a fish with four eyes? Fiiiish."
(That is funny. Fi-i-i-ish!)
The next day there were fewer people and the following day fewer people and eventually, three weeks later, there was only one person there.
This one person was a girl who looked just like James. Not saying that James looked like a girl or the girl looked like a boy or either of them looked especially girl-like or boy-like actually, but her name was Peach. Oh, and she was much, much larger than James. About three times larger. The reason she is so much larger than James is another story.
But other than being so much larger, she looked just like James.
"Are you going to try to make me laugh?" James asked.
She shook her head.
"Then why are you here?"
"I want you to make me cry," she answered.
James was stunned. "Why would you want me to make you cry?" he asked.
(He was looking way way up at Peach. Like this.)
She smiled. And then she laughed a little. A small laugh, but a real laugh. "Why do you want to laugh?" she asked him back.
(She was looking way way down at James. Like this.)
"Because I have never done it before," James said. "And it makes me feel, well, different than others, that I can't laugh."
Peach responded, "And that's why I want to cry. Since I cannot do it and it makes me sad and different that I cannot cry."
James asked, very surprised, "But why would you want to cry?"
"I just told you." She responded.
"But why would anyone want to cry? People only cry when they are very, very sad."
Peach sighed and looked up at the sky.
"I don't want to be sad. I just want to be able to cry."
"I understand," he said. "I do find things funny. They just don't make me laugh." He then added, "For example. I lost my mood ring this morning and I don't know how I feel about that."
Peach looked down at James oddly and then, when she got the joke, she exploded with laughter. But then stopped suddenly, since she thought her laughing might make James feel bad.
"It's OK," James said. "You can laugh. I like it when people laugh."
James then realized he was late, again, for his first class, so he said, "Sorry, I have to go" and ran into school.
They met every morning before school and after school and became very close friends.
For a while Peach tried to make James laugh, but she soon gave up. James never tried to make Peach cry, since he wanted her to be happy.
(I'm guessing this is one of those stories where we fast forward to the future?)
Two years later ...
(It is one of those stories!)
Two years later ...
James told Peach that his family was moving out of state.
That's what did it. Peach started to cry. Which made James also start to cry, but then he suddenly stopped.
"You're crying!" James exclaimed.
"Yes, I'm very, very sad. The saddest I have ever been in my whole life!"
James didn't know what to do. He was very sad that he made Peach cry, but also happy that she was finally able to cry.
After Peach stopped crying, she asked, "When you do you leave?"
"In four days," he said sadly. "Four short days."
This made Peach cry again. But then she brightened up. "OK. We now have four days to make you laugh."
James shook his head. "I really don't feel like laughing today," he said.
She smiled at him and said, "Well, I didn't really feel like crying today. But I did."
"Fair enough," he said. "If nothing else, it will keep our minds off being sad that I am leaving."
They scrubbed the internet for all the jokes, funny movies and videos, and comedy sketches they could, but none made James laugh out loud.
Not even the "Who's on First" sketch from Abbot and Costello, which made Peach roll over and over she was laughing so hard.
They watched it five times and played both parts of it. Peach laughed so hard during a couple of their efforts that she could barely get the words out of her mouth.
James thought it was very, very funny, but still did not laugh out loud. Almost, but not quite.
Then, suddenly, like snapping your fingers ...
...the four days had passed, and James was in the back seat of his family car about to leave for his new home many hours from Peach. And just as the car was about to start rolling away, Peach leaned down ...
...and handed James a small box, which easily fit into the palm of his hand.
"I'll miss you," she said. And they both started crying as James and his family drove away.
It was almost an hour later when James finally stopped his sniffles and realized he was still holding the small, unopened box.
Inside the box was a small envelope with the following note on the outside:
I'll be your friend forever, wherever you may be.
Inside the envelope was a mood ring and a note which read:
Now you will always know how you feel about that.
And you know what happened next?
(Of course you do.)
Even though the gift and the note made James sad, and even though he missed Peach more than anything in the world, and even though small tears dripped from his eyes, he laughed out loud for the first time in his life.