Friday, 1 July 2011


Sue, as in ex, had a bad fall yesterday. She, along with friend, Mary, daughter, Em, and grandchildren, Amy and Katie, was going for a picnic when she tripped over a protruding fire hydrant cover. According to Em, she lay motionless for a couple of minutes. When she came to, she complained of pains in her stomach rather than her head. Diagnosing remotely, It sounds to me that she knocked herself out for a second or two. I spoke to her and she denies the charge; however, I stick to my diagnosis. She, being an enthusiastic tennis player, was more concerned about the damage to her right hand. (She has since informed me it will not impede her aces; the graze not being situated where her hand meets the racquet.)

But, to the point: Amy's immediate reaction to her grandmother's fall was to giggle. Callous, you may think. But her mother, Em, being so much more sensible than me, understood: young Amy's reaction was a means of coping with a situation she had not met before. She, Em, told me had reacted in the same way in similar circumstances in her own young age.

When reported to Sue, she said the same. She related a story of a school friend from Hong Kong who was looking forward to seeing her father after a year's absence when it was reported he was killed in a car accident. The whole class, according to Sue, collapsed in giggles.

Giggling as a means of coping is not a phenomenon I have met before. I have known of giggling as means of overcoming moments of embarrassment - it seems appropriate as a means of self-effacement - but never as an expression of shock.

I am now in shock. I thought I knew it all.

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