One simple question can yield the most torrential flood of confession.
Someone I can best describe as a friend (now, after such an admission), recently told me about his transgendered condition. It was all very cool, and there was no laughter but what was shared between the two of us. None of it was unilateral and derisive. I would expect no less from myself.
And yet, I recall the six-foot-plus Cornell book store employee who was obviously at the beginning phase of his transition. We had to laugh; it was just too comical. I knew even then, and I still joked, though only once hopefully out of earshot. I meant no slight on the person. But surely s/he must have known how silly she looked. I hope he could admit that and laugh at herself. I hope I can admit the same about myself, and laugh just as heartily.
Look at me, I'm all cool and funny like when we listened close to BasketCase and noticed how Green Day switched the gender of the psychiatrist back and forth. See, it's funny because they said he, and then they said she, but they were still talking about the same person! And yes, we checked the liner notes, and they did highlight in bold print the toggling-gender pronouns. So clever.
But the escape; the tense flight with giggles stifled until a safe distance was achieved; that makes me worry. It breeds paranoia. I have trouble doubting that the person I talked to envisioned me laughing once I escaped her proximity. Dammit, the laughter still echoes years after I wish I could quell it with violent punches. And the worst thing about unattached laughter; laughter to which you can attach no external source; it becomes directed at you. So as it echoes down the halls of time, and he catches it with his ear, will he hesitate to ask, "Are they laughing at me?"
No, we're laughing at the situation. That makes everything better.