|You don't tug on Mike's mohawk.|
Today is Mike Totman's birthday, which reminds me of the time he made me laugh uncontrollably for forty-five minutes or so.
Five or six (or - shudder - ten) years ago, our regular tabletop roleplaying group was involved in a near-future campaign setting; it might have been the RPG based on the Firefly TV series, or perhaps we were trying out Jovian Chronicles. Or it might have been the 1930s pulp adventure game...in any event, at one point in the game Colin, the game master, allowed my character to purchase a box of dynamite.
My friends all know that I love dynamite, or rather, that I love the cartoonish portrayal of dynamite seen in old Western movies and Warner Brothers cartoons. Violence in the real world makes me physically ill, but I am, after all, a man, and therefore prone to cackle at the pratfalls of the Three Stooges or the characters in many of Blake Edwards' movies. In a fictional setting, giving me (or rather, my avatar) a box of dynamite was akin to handing a precocious toddler a box of matches while touring a gunpowder factory.
I waxed enthusiastic about my plans for the dynamite, and after a couple of minutes of this Mike sang, in perfect, uncanny Melanie Safka* falsetto:
"I got a brand new box of dynamite, you got a brand new key..."
Well, I lost it. I exploded with laughter, the kind of breathless, braying cackle that makes other people stare at you like you're insane, as my gathered friends certainly did. I was out of control for ages - perhaps not forty-five minutes as claimed above, but near enough. It was the exact sort of absurd pop-culture reference that I love best, and Mike's delivery and inflection were note-perfect.
Out-of-control laughter arising from utter surprise and delight is a rare gift, a pleasure I've experienced only a few times in my life. So happy birthday, Mike, and thank you from the bottom of my belly-laugh.
*If you don't get the reference, here's the original song Mike was parodying: