The Ultimate Church Gag
The Laugh Box, (Laugh Bag, Laughing Bag) has been around for many years. It is a favorite gag toy. The laugh box was a simple plastic box that when you pressed the laugh button, it would of course start laughing at a loud pitch and volume. The sound it made, a person laughing uncontrollably, was infectious and all around would begin to laugh. Great fun at dinner parties, get togethers, and school cafeteria’s. But not a good idea for Sunday mass.
My brother Jack had a laugh box. He would conceal it in his jacket pocket and turn it on when the time was right. Which was just about all the time for him. I loved it. But, he would rarely let me use it, saying I would break it because I was rough with it. I was 10 years old, of course I was going to be rough with it. Anyway, I would have my revenge one day.
Jack and I would usually go to church each Sunday morning at St. Dominic’s church instead of St. Charles because St. Dom’s was a quicker mass and you could stand in the back. I never quite understood the attraction of standing in the back of the church when there were perfectly good seats all over the church. Maybe Jack thought the priest would have a pop quiz on Catholic religion and call on the people sitting in the pews during mass. Anyway, Jack thought it was cool, and the grown up thing to do, and so did I.
Of course, we arrived a little late for mass, (We averaged about 5 minutes late each week) and took our place against the back wall of the church. I noticed that Jack had the laugh box in his jacket. He always carried it with him supposedly so that I wouldn’t break it, but I cannot confirm that.
Mass went as most masses go. Stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel, procession, communion, kneel, sit, stand, leave. A few readings, a sermon, a few hymns, and a lot of Amens. All that within a 45 minute time frame.
Right around the middle of the mass, the sermon part, where the priest stands on his pulpit and tells us Catholics how bad we are and that we need to give the church more money so they can continue to tell us how bad we are, I exacted my revenge. Leaning in to Jack, I elbowed him slightly in his side, right where the laugh box was. (The beauty of the laugh box is that once it begins, it has to cycle completely through. There is no off switch. If you hit the laugh button again, it merely starts at the beginning again. Once you press the button, there is no turning back.)
Immediately, the laugh box went into action. People began craning their necks looking for where the laughter was coming from. I merely stepped a few feet away from Jack allowing him to bask in all his glory.
The entire church was looking back at Jack. Even the priest stopped talking, (And that is a feat in itself) and stared at my brother. Jack, who was trying to look like it wasn’t him making the noise, looked around like everyone else but no one was buying it. Thirty seconds later. Silence! The laugh box stopped. Jack attempted to make a discreet exit but an usher blocked his path to the street. That was a mistake on the usher’s part. Jack called him an asshole or something like that and left. I followed a few steps behind.
We skipped out on mass early that day. After we got in the car, we started laughing, and continued to all the way home. We didn’t realize it at the time, but Jack and I were banned from attending mass at St. Dominic’s. We were wanted men by the parish. We were marked men. That was so cool.
LURKING ON THE GRASSY KNOLL