Sunday, March 08, 2009

It seemed beautiful to me

I read this lovely thing about laughter the other night, in Marilynne Robinson's novel Gilead. The dying narrator, a minister, is walking by two local mechanics standing outside of their garage:

"There they were, propped against the garage wall in the sunshine, lighting up their cigarettes. They're always so black with grease and so strong with gasoline, I don't know why they don't catch fire themselves. They were passing remarks back and forth the way they do and laughing that wicked way they have. And it seemed beautiful to me. It's an amazing thing to watch people laugh, the way it sort of takes them over. Sometimes they really do struggle with it. I see it in church often enough. So I wonder what it is and where it comes from, and I wonder what it expends out of your system, so that you have to do it till you're done, like crying in a way I suppose, except that laughter is much more easily spent."

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