I Shouldn't Laugh, But...

A guy I dated would sit in front of his computer, read stuff on the Web, and periodically cackle so loudly that I could hear him from another floor of the house.

Interesting. (And, at times, alarming.)

As for me, I don’t laugh aloud often.

Don’t get me wrong: I find many things in life funny. I have a great sense of humor. I appreciate wit. I just don’t tend to laugh out loud much. Not at all, almost.

Except when people fall down.

If staged, the tumble doesn’t make me laugh. I don’t find The Three Stooges even remotely humorous. Yet real falls make me laugh hysterically.

Horrid, right? I truly hope the victim came through unscathed. I feel genuine concern.

Yet still, I laugh.

I’m an incredibly compassionate person, so this surprises me, really. I think my you-just-fell laughter comes from vicarious embarrassment. I empathize with the person who fell. I’m horrified for her, quite frankly. What if I’d been in her shoes?

How awful! How humiliating!

In fact, I laugh in mortification even when I take a tumble—which often means people think I came through unscathed when I didn’t. Extra evidence for my empathy hypothesis.

I’m not a bad person, I promise.

What makes you laugh the hardest?