THE MASTER OF THE SECOND LAUGH


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Photography by Olivia Newton John

THE MASTER OF THE SECOND LAUGH

Larry Hogan had the most amazing guffaw. It wasn’t shared with small groups or one-on-one events. In fact, laughter of this more intimate sort was really  slightly more than a chuckle. The guffaw was the second step of an oft – practiced, three-stage occurrence that served Brother Lawrence well when attending his favorite public events. The first step I call Howdy, Howdy. The second was the actual guffaw which I call the Hee – Haw and the third was Yak – Yak.

Yak – Yak came during intermission and though I don’t count it’s social equivalent which followed the finale as number four, this component was the intended goal of Steps One through Three. Let’s call this the Later Gater.

Howdy, Howdy was an information gathering event where Brother Lawrence Hogan, the director of diocesan publicity would scout the other arrivals, greeting friends and acquaintances, accepting introductions and always on the lookout for an invitation to another event or offering such in return if indeed, there was an opportune agenda.

Yak – Yak would be an improved version of  Hee – Haw but with a more condensed version which would include affirmations of earlier, Hee – Haw conversations.

Lest we forget the point of my memoir, Step Two is about the Grand Guffaw which would be appropriate at many Plays, Comedy Routines and Roasts.

Larry’s first response to witty remarks required a finely tuned attention span which began by listening for a First Laugh. The trick was to be the second person to do so. The two outbursts would usually be so close together that it would seem that they were simultaneous. In the usual one – second passage of time to arouse the reflexes of the third laugh many heads would turn to the source of Larry’s impressive Guffaw.

As his head threw back for maximum vocal and visual effect, Brother Lawrence Hogan, the Grand Master of the seizure of central attention, would start his right arm and open hand  flying into the air, pausing for a tenth of a second, descending then, to make an impressive slap on his right knee. Each subsequent rise and fall of upper limbs  was accompanied by the loudest  Guffaws in the room, each ascent followed by both hands returning again to his knees and then up again, down again up again, down again.

By now you are perhaps, asking yourself what this man would do when applauding music, drama or public hanging. I’m not certain about the third of these examples but the first two would be exactly the same as the Guffaw except that the loud stentorian laughter would be replaced with well executed “Bravo”s.

A week before Brother Larry Hogan’s last day on earth, this well-practiced master of manipulation of public vision, the youngest – ever member of the United State Diplomatic Corps and the only man I ever knew who would in his last year be seen on the front page of the Arizona Republic stepping carefully in his  cord – cinctured, brown, wool tunic,  descending the front steps of St. Mary’s Basilica with an unmistakable halo encircling his head (No, it was not photo-shop),  producing and directing, possibly his grandest ever celebration, this being the occasion of his arrival at a diocesan, nursing home in Central Phoenix.

The crowd of Nuns, Friars, friends and kitchen employees attended and applauded his arrival as the Mexican Accordion Masters with their wide – brimmed sombreros, serenaded the occasion.

As usual, Larry noted the First Laugh, in this case coming from The Sister in Charge and broke loose with the loudest Guffaw of his diplomat –  turned friar –  cum – publicist career. Lacking a lap, Larry bent over to reach his right knee, rose for the vocals and plunged once again for the second slap; he missed, I caught him, he tried again and succeeded. The Master of the Last Guffaw was present and accounted – for,  at his Last Hurrah,
the Master of the Second Laugh.

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