“But laughter — with its fearlessness and solidarity — is mood altering magic.”
“Hey Lua, ya wanna hear a funny song?”
Lua and I were working side-by-side painting the forward bulkhead of the pilothouse. It was time for a break. I loved taking catchy pop songs, stripping away the old lyrics, and then slopping on a fresh coat of new ones that tell a very different story. Just a Gigolo was the latest annoying earworm I had chosen for such abusive treatment.
“Of course, I’d love to.”
She was delighted by the offer but did not break the steady rhythm of her smooth, graceful brush strokes. She seemed to really enjoy the relaxing, smooth, repetitive activity. I gleefully put down my paintbrush, grabbed my guitar, and sang my lighthearted little ditty with all the contrived passion and commitment I could muster:
I’m just a piccolo and everywhere I go
People say I'm short and skinny
I wish I were a flute, that would be a hoot
And then I wouldn’t sound so tinny
But there will come day, when things will go my way
When all the lower notes retire
And when the end comes they’ll know, I was one fine piccolo
Just like a flute but higher
I'm so short and skinny...
I just sound so tinny...
Lua clapped enthusiastically.
“That was great, Mister Rico! How did you come up with that?”
She was giggling with pure delight.
“Well, that classic tune has a great melody ripe for repurposing, but the only word that I could think of to rhyme with ‘gigolo’ was ‘piccolo.’ So I had to imagine myself as a piccolo and wonder what would go through the mind of this sad, slender, squeaky little flute wannabe. Now Lua, wouldn’t you agree that a poor little piccolo, having only a very limited selection of weak, wimpy high notes to offer a big-bass world would have significant self-esteem issues and be dreaming of a day when all the lower notes retired?”
I had barely finished my explanation before she lost her composure in a fit of contagious laughter that drew me in like a helpless cork in a whirlpool of merriment. We both laughed together for a good long time.
Now any salty, savvy, seasoned skipper will tell you that great food is vital to the morale of passengers and crew at sea, especially when the going gets unpleasant or downright dangerous. Chef Lua would certainly provide that. But laughter — with its fearlessness and solidarity — is mood altering magic. It can sometimes be the most effective way to release the pressure from the mounting stress of a difficult situation. And fortunately, Lua was one of those special class of people that laughed easily and often, a trait that I lack, but greatly admire in others.
There would surely be many extraordinary challenges crewing for a bunch of ill-matched landlubberly passengers dealing, many for the first time, with the tight quarters and daily discomforts of living aboard a relatively small vessel with few modern conveniences; Kalea was no luxury cruise liner, after all. So I made a mental note to myself at that moment to keep ‘Laughing Lua’ in mind for when the time comes, and certainly it would, that a rapidly deteriorating situation called for the magical mood-saving power of a timely and well-thrown lifeline of humor.