Last week of classes and the stress of finals are building. It’s my first semester of college and I really don’t know what to expect. My roommate Julie, our floor mate Fiona, and I venture to the library in hopes of getting a good cubby and putting in some hours. After some studying we realize that we are hungry and need to get dinner. Julie has her car on campus and we unanimously decide to treat ourselves to an off campus dinner. Get a change of scenery; be slightly rebellious by abandoning our study stations. We need to relieve some of the stress. We decide on Chick-Fil-A, our trio’s guilty pleasure. We chant “Chick-Fil-A! Chick-Fil-A! Chick-Fil-A!” as we lug our heavy tote bags to the car and pile in. We spend the next hour in the food court at Towson Town Center, reminiscing about our semester. We laugh and joke about all of the silly first year mistakes we made and some of the best nights we had that semester. We eventually make it back to campus, spirits high and laughing nonstop. One of the girls keeps imitating someone we all knew and the joke keeps building. My stomach aches because we are laughing so hard. All of a sudden, I feel the need to puke. I’m walking between Julie and Fiona, just in front of the Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. I double over and throw up. I don’t think anything of it, and keep walking to catch up to Julie and Fiona. At this point, they are doubled over in uncontrollable laughter. They are close to tears.
“Did you just throw up?” asks Fiona.
“Yeah,” I respond.
“Do you feel okay? You just kept walking, ” says Julie.
“Yeah, Haven’t you ever laughed to the point you’ve thrown up?”
“No!” They both respond at the same time. We all look at each other and the giggling begins again.
“I guess we can go back to studying now,” Julie says with a laugh.
In this situation, my friends and I were stressed about due to workload and completing part of the transition to college. We needed an outlet to take our mind off of our actual worries. Spencer states, “laughter is a result of the pleasure we take in escaping from the restraint of grave feelings... mirth is caused by the gush of agreeable feeling which follows the cessation of unpleasant mental strain,” (105-106). We had spent all of our energy for the past week on studying and worrying about our academics. The minute we took a break from “mental strain,” the energy that had been dedicated to stress, needed an escape. The escape happened to be laughter. Everything we talked about in the car rides and dinner had been funny, funnier than it should have actually been. We could barely get through a few minutes without finding something else to laugh about. Freud similarly states, “We prepare ourselves for feeling fear, pity, or some other negative emotion; but then we realize that we need not be concered, so that the energy summoned for the emotion is suddenly superfluous and available for discharge in laughter” (111). The ability to take a break from the anxiety allowed for the energy to redirected in a more positive way. Also, in a way to help relieve some of the negative feelings we had all been having. It helped to make studying seem bearable again.
Another aspect of humor touched upon in the Chick-Fil-A adventure is that Julie, Fiona, and I felt that we should have technically still been studying. Or at least have been eating dinner in Boulder and making a quick return to the library. Instead, we decided to take what felt like a more bold dinner excursion. Freud writes, “Humor is not resigned; it is rebellious,” (113). We thought our trip to the food court was comical in that we felt what were doing seemed inappropriate under the circumstances. In order to cope with proceeding in actions we felt were not right, we just had to laugh about our choice and make the best of it.
Also, the other physical effect of certain emotions needs to be addressed. I threw up from laughing. Spencer states that “Joy, disappointment, anxiety, or any moral perturbation rising to a great height, destroys appetite; or, if food has been taken, arrests digestion;” (103). In my case digestion didn’t just stop but made itself not a viable option. My anxiety over finals taken over by the unexpected happiness from the study break caused my food make an appearance for a second time. The digestion process just halted and reversed from the amount of pure laughter and energy spent on relieving stress.
Most people laugh so hard, they pee their pants. I laugh so hard, I throw up.