The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: READY FOR THE WORLD by Becca Klaver

Hooliganism Was the Charge

In a 1993 study published in Ethology journal, “Laughter Punctuates
Speech: Linguistic, Social, and Gender Contexts of Laughter,” Robert
R. Provine finds that

females are the leading laughers. Future research should
evaluate the extent to which the pattern of laughter
described here is the consequence of a vocal display
performed by subservient individuals in response to
dominant group members. For example, do subservient
males show a female-like laugh pattern in the presence of
a domineering male or female boss?


On a Social Anxiety Support message board, a user named WintersTale
writes:

I went out to eat for dinner with my grandma and my
mom, and of course the waiter sat us down right next
to a table full of high school girls. Who were giggling.
When I sat down, I heard “eww, that’s disgusting”,
which I attributed to me (maybe it wasn’t, but it seemed
too coincidental), followed by tons of giggling. I switched
seats, so at least I wasn’t sitting directly in front of them,
but I still felt them looking at me and giggling.

person86 replies:

I always assume that groups of teenage girls who are
looking in my direction and giggling are checkin’ me out.
Maybe I’m just a conceited b*stard, but it makes a tad
more sense.

Zephyr replies:

Yeah I wouldn’t really take it personally. Ducks go
quack. Cows go mooooo. Dogs go woof. Teenage girls
giggle. Sheep go baaa. Pigs go oink. I think they teach
these concepts in kindergarten. It’s hard to get mad at
things that can only do what they’re built for. *shrug*

In “Some Observations on Humor and Laughter in Young Adolescent
Girls,” published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence in 1974, Rita
Ransohoff writes:

The contagion effect of hysterical laughter was observed
among the girls. Hysterical laughter itself seemed to serve
a group function. It offered reassurance which said “You
are not alone; I can hear you.”

She offers an example:

Connie and Sally faced each other. They laughed in
paroxysms. They maintained eye contact and when one
would stop the other would start, and then they would
laugh again together.

In “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous writes:

If she’s a her-she, it’s in order to smash everything, to
shatter the framework of institutions, to blow up the law,
to break up the ‘truth’ with laughter.

I wrote:

But laughter in the face of the law is infuriating,
unjustifiable, anarchic.

Pussy Riot smirking and cackling in their wood-and-glass cage, blowing
up the law.

Hooliganism was the charge. Laughing inside the wrong doors.

To blow off and up a world that was not made for them.

It goes loud and long. Starts in the belly and you cannot stop it.

I leave the room where the girls sit in a circle and I can’t hear words, only
giggling.

I think to myself: Liberation of subjugated energies.

I think: Intimacy of intimacies.

Spell we put each other under.

I return to the room and say: This is my favorite place in the world.

Jenny and me in the cafeteria. They’d ask, Are you mocking me? They’d
say laughing at. We were.

We were finding out that the world was not for us. We couldn’t laugh
with
. We were taking what we could.

I laugh and laugh and laugh and keep laughing and I know it’s magic
because it gets the right people mad, the ones who want me to shut up,
the ones who say silly girl, valley girl, too-much spilling-over seeping-out
girl.

Me and my sisters grabbing each other’s forearms in paroxysms, crying-laughing, knowing-we-were-interrupting-Mass-laughing, wanting
to, wanting to see what would happen: to shatter the framework of
institutions…

I googled “giggling girls,” and the top two results were both titled
“Giggling Girls and Bloody Violence.”

Riotous release of the rrrrrrrrrrrepressed

—Oh my god I’m dying
—Oh my god please stop

Laughter as the last power
once you’ve traded in the rest.

The world had no use for them.
You just kept laughing it off.
No big deal.

The charge was hooliganism.
A refusal punishable by law.
The patriarch was offended personally.
Big guy in the sky can tell it’s laugh at.

Look repentant or laugh
in the face of the law.

Can you hear my voice?

Valley-plaintive.

Totally.


It was a tear in
it was a ripple in
it was a giggle in space-time

the way we stayed girls
all those years

a style of being
that said

don’t die too soon

just try to stay amused

—Oh my god I’m dying, oh my god please stop


I stopped practicing magic

except on the internet except in poems

except when I laughed in your face at the very wrongest moment

We hold each other’s gazes and the first one to laugh wins

Like all rituals it gets you ready for the world


This selection comes from the book, READY FOR THE WORLD, available from Black Lawrence Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kelly Lorraine Andrews.

Becca Klaver is a writer, teacher, editor, scholar, and literary collaboration conjurer. She is the author of the poetry collections LA Liminal (Kore Press, 2010), Empire Wasted (Bloof Books, 2016), and Ready for the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), as well as several chapbooks. A founding editor of Switchback Books, she is currently co-editing, with Arielle Greenberg, the digital poetry anthology Electric Gurlesque. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, she is the Robert P. Dana Director of the Center for the Literary Arts at Cornell College and lives in Iowa City.

Kelly Lorraine Andrews is an assistant managing editor for the American Economic Association and an MFA graduate from the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of the chapbooks Sonnets in Which the Speaker Is on Display (Stranded Oak Press, forthcoming 2019), The Fear Archives (Two of Cups Press, 2017), My Body Is a Poem I Can’t Stop Writing (Porkbelly Press, 2017), I Want To Eat So Many Kinds of Cake With You and Mule Skinner (both out from Dancing Girl Press). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in [PANK], Prick of the Spindle, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. You can read more about her past and future publications and look at a slideshow of her cats at her website.

 

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