Once, there were three little children playing in a park by a lake. It was an overcast, Sunday afternoon in the park, and the City of New York rose all around the small hint of nature that I sat in. Two of them were boys; and one of them was a girl. Social norm states that the girl play alone by herself while the two boys play with their dirt castles and mud forts. And when they were tired of that, go make fun of the girl. But although social norm is the status quo for normalcy, and how humans should act in a group, it’s not always the way things go. It normally is, but sometimes normalcy goes on vacation.
To those who witness this event in a park, one of them is the mother of one boy, the one who has his sleeves rolled up to his elbows so he wont get them dirty. She’s leaning over a baby cart and not paying the slightest attention to her older child. The other boy has a father, who happens to be reading the newspaper on the bench beside me. There are some runners who are jogging down the path—it will take them two minutes to reach where I am sitting, with my book in my hands.
It was only curious chance that I myself had witnessed this event, and to this day, I am quite grateful for the witness to the anomaly. It took place shortly after I had gotten my doctorate, and was out experiencing the every day world through eyes that had no yet grown accustomed to being able to read people as well as I could.
But I digress.
You may notice that I haven’t mentioned the girl’s parents, and that is because, as far as I am aware, she hasn’t got any. Her sister had been with her earlier, but she had ditched her with her boyfriend for a boat and a lake, and I could just barely make out their bodies kissing in the middle of the lake—a pastime that many have enjoyed, but rarely do any enjoy them on a day such as today, overcast and threatening to rain at any time.
Back to the children. The two boys had, as society dictates, gotten sick of their mud castles—mud in a sand castle? How bizarre you say? Remember it is raining. They had grown tired of playing together, and now were eyeing the girl, who, may I add, was valiantly playing alone, entertaining herself by weaving grass loops. The curious phenomenon of this is not that these three young characters follow their parts in such a textbook fashion, it’s that they don’t.
The two boys, as is their nature, had gotten up with handfuls of thick sand dripping from their hands. I must say that I squirmed a bit in my seat at the thought. However, the only thing that happened in the general vicinity was that the baby had dropped his pacifier onto the ground, and the father beside me had turned to the sports page of his newspaper.
I’d imagine the boys said something to the effect of “hey girl” or “you” or something, because the girl looked up just in time to have a splotch of mu hit her square in the nose. While I spent a moment admiring the boy’s good pitching arm, the girl doubled over and I expected her to cry or simper, or some other such. But I had a clear view of her face. She looked for no adult, not even so much as glanced at us, of who only I was watching this event.
Instead, she wiped her face off with the back of her hand and laughed until she doubled over, tears in her eyes. The boys then, still holding sand, looked at each other and started laughing as well.
This is something, that I believe is known as the laughing effect. A curious happenstance that affects anyone involved. Indeed, even I, although not involved, felt the slight urge to smile. This small phenomenon is nothing large. But because the girl laughed, and didn’t cry, or simper, she made the two boys common friends, united by laughter. The three children played together after that, because once that barrier of gender is broken and the two sides interact once, they cannot simply go back to the way things had been earlier that same hour.
By the time the runners passed me by, the three children were laughing together. In the span of three minutes, a little girl’s laughter had changed the course of the future in a positive way.
The book I was reading that day in Central park happened to be the Silmarillion, by J.R.R Tolkien. The Silmarillion happens to have a character, Urwen, whose laughter was so bright that she became known as Lalaith.
This phenomenon had so captured my interest, that, a few weeks later, when finally I had been able to rejoin Cyberpolis once more, I created the character known as Lalaith.
It is my hope to spread this curious phenomenon by using the most powerful weapon we have, laughter.