Friday, June 24, 2011


One of the things people mention most when we talk about Mike is how much they miss his laugh. It was a good one. Hard to describe. He was very unselfconscious about it. If something struck him funny, he just cut loose. Sometimes, if he wasn't laughing uproariously, he would do this "ssss—sssss—sssss" thing that sounded like a snake with hiccups. The one that always got me, though, was when he'd laugh, seemingly forever, then repeat whatever it was that cracked him up in this high-pitched wheezy voice and then go off in gales of laughter again. For instance, if he was watching OFFICE SPACE:

"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA…ha ha ha…ha.ssss—ssss—ssss—ssss…

"Lumbergh f***ed her!"


It was very endearing. Well…except this one time.

I've mentioned the trip to Italy we took with our parents and Suzanne about 10 years ago. I hate to fly under the best of circumstances but the flight to Milan was almost unbearable. Suzanne, Mike and I were in the center section with me in the middle. Suze was sitting next to a guy who was sniffing and wheezing and grunting like he had the Black Plague. The screens for the in-flight movie were embedded in the backs of the chairs so if the guy sitting in front of you put his seat back, you were out of luck. This was the case with me. By twisting my head at an unnatural angle, I was able to catch an occasional glimpse of the movie but I couldn't sustain it.

Mike was more fortunate. He was able to watch his movie just fine and that movie was GALAXY QUEST. "Oh, cool! I haven't seen this!" I told him he was in for a treat because it was hilarious. Apparently, Mike agreed.

I had taken off my headphones because they were pointless without being able to see the movie. But Mike had his on. Remember that scene in JERRY MAGUIRE where Tom Cruise is singing along to a song we can't hear and screwing up the lyrics? He thinks he's doing a great job but, to us, he sounds terrible.

For anyone not watching the movie, there was the not unpleasant hum and creak of a large aircraft cruising along broken by the occasional cough or whine of an unhappy child. Then it started.

"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA…ha ha ha…ha.ssss—ssss—ssss—ssss…

"Hell of a thing!"



"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA…ha ha ha…ha.ssss—ssss—ssss—ssss…

"That's not right!"



"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA…ha ha ha…ha.ssss—ssss—ssss—ssss…

"…By Grabthar's hammer!"


Every head turned toward Mike. He had no idea how loud he was being and I don't think he would have cared if he did. He was having the time of his life. He watched the entire movie like that while I slumped down in my seat trying to be as small as possible. Once in a while, someone would catch my eye and I'd shrug and shake my head. "Never met this guy before…"

Finally, mercifully, the movie stopped. Mike took off his headphones and said, "That was a great movie. I can't believe I've never seen it before."

Things went back to normal. But it was a long flight. And, wouldn't you know it, there was time for another movie. There were actually "channels" on the screens so you could choose between three different movies. Mike put on his headphones and chose…GALAXY QUEST. I thought we'd be okay, though, because he'd just seen it. No way would he find it that funny when he already knew the jokes.

Wrong. Apparently, it TWICE as funny.

Want to try and guess what he watched on the flight back? I bet you'd be right.

That was one of those excruciating experiences you think will never end. And then it does. And you laugh about it for the rest of your life. So, yeah. I miss Mike's laugh too.

Especially that one.

Happy Birthday, Mikey.


Leanne said...

Man, such a great story! Happy birthday, Mike.

Josh said...

I didn't realize it was his birthday today. Happy birthday to Mike!

todd said...

i absolutely love that story!
so glad you shared it with everybody, bro~!
happy birthday to that guy!

Joe Alexander said...

That was a really cool story---thanks for sharing that Matt.

Paul Rogers said...

Hiya Matt & Suze! I can relate to this, back in the day Mike and I went to see 'National Lampoon's European Vacation' at the Plaza Theater in Lynchburg. The Traffic Circle scene came up early in the film and Mike could not stop laughing, I mean, could not stop laughing to the point that the audience was looking at us like we needed to be escorted out of the theater at the earliest possible moment, well, that didn't happen, even after all the other Mike Over-The-Top-Laughs during the film. That was fun, but man, that was nothing compared to the time we went to see 'Transylvania 6-5000'...Miss you, Love you and damned if I don't hear that Wonderful laugh every time I think about you, ya Big Dope...Happy Birthday Buddy...;)

Heywood Jablomie said...

thanks for sharing this matt, sounds like a pisser of a flight to have been on! =)

Brian said...

Wonderful story, Matt.