It’s not meant to be funny

but I haven’t laughed as much in a long time.  It was my dad’s 80th, and we’d all gone to a four star hotel to celebrate for a night.  Mum treated all the girls to an afternoon at the spa, which was lovely.  But sadly being paired with my big sister was a recipe for a distinct lack of reverence for the whole experience.

It all began when mum came back from her head massage looking like a cross between an elf from The Lord of the Rings and David Bowie in his punk phase.  Her hair was dramatically pushed straight up and pointed to the back as if she’d put her finger in a live socket.  She hadn’t looked in a mirror, so her confused face when we laughed made it all even funnier.  Oh to have had a phone!

After our massage, we were gently guided to the ‘relaxation room’, a subtly lit, quiet space that encouraged church-like whispers and gravitas.  Unfortunately, being told the beds were adjustable was not enough to make it clear which of the several buttons you pressed to raise the back to sitting position.

“It’s the first one at the top,” my sister whispered as her bed began to go up.

Right.  I tentatively pushed the first one at the top and watched as my bed rose up.  At the wrong end.  There were three other women lying in silence and trying to relax in the room, but as my feet started to lift up, it was hard to control the laughter.  We swigged our water, tart with sliced citrus fruit, and made a hasty exit.

Next stop the jacuzzi.  Now, having heard my aunt instructing mum loudly to ‘hold on’, I knew to brace myself.  I sat forward as the bubbles roared against me, looking as relaxed as a meer cat watching for predators in the desert.  My sister leant back, and her feet rose up uncontrollably.  We sat trying not to look at each other, trying to be serious, but it was tough going.

When the experience was done, with a 20 second spate in the sauna which consisted of us going in, deciding it was too hot (as if we didn’t know) and leaving again, I worried that I had not made the most of it, but then I thought- what’s better – serious silence or happy irreverence?  It was so good to giggle, and is not laughter sometimes the best therapy of all?  Perhaps, more often than not, we take ourselves and the rituals we follow too seriously.  Maybe it’s time to see the silliness in things and just have a good old laugh.

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