Laughter

Feb 3, 2020

My best friend and I started traveling to other countries and states when we were about 18. We both became nurses at the same time of 16. So at 19, we started traveling.

At 20, we went to Bermuda and where we stayed, we met one of the nurses in a nurse’s residence. Her family lived down that spot. So three of us went and her aunt put the three of us up. Made one big room with three beds, like a little dorm, and the thing was she said, “Do not come in after 12 o’clock,” because she had to go to work. “Be in on time.”

Now one of the girls who went with us, we had met living in the nurse’s residence together, she was kind of out there. We didn’t know. As soon as we arrived good and get into the house, and we lived down in the valley. You had to go way down into the valley and most people do not drive that strip to get down to the bottom. They let you off at the top. We get there and all these guys showed up only to find out Lorinda had been there before. She made a reputation for herself. So they thought me and her friend came to be part of the reputation. Said, “We don’t do that!”

So now she went out. We will decide to go separate from her. And, this one man, not guy, man, decided he wants to take us out to one of the clubs. Now when we go places together, we never separate. If they don’t want to take the two of us, then goodbye. But we went to Bermuda and this guy wanted to take her out to a club. And she said, “Well what about my best friend?” He said, “I really want to take you.” He said, “But I’ll take the two of you.” I say, “That’s the only way we’re going to go!” Took us to this nightclub. He was trying to liquor us up. He asked, “What are you drinking?”

“Ginger ale or Coke.”

Then of course then he got mad.

“That’s all y’all are going to drink is ginger ale? Y’all need some hard liquor.”

I say, “You look hard enough to drink, like you done drank it all already.”

So he decided, about 12 o’clock, he’s not taking us back down in the valley. We said, “Fine.” We got a cab and went to the top of the valley. Now we had her house was all the way down. Don’t ask me how far it was, but there’re no lights on the streets. There are no partitions that keep you from falling into the ditches.

So we’re walking and we’re talking and we said, “Well, it’s so dark. We better hold hands to make sure we don’t lose each other.” We busy talking, I didn’t realize I wasn’t holding her hand anymore. And then I heard, “Help!” I don’t know why it’s funny to me, but I heard, “Help!”

I said, “Where are you, Ernestine? Where are you?”

“I’m down in the ditch!”

It was pitch black dark. I said, “Well, keep talking. Let me find my way back to you.” We managed to get her out of the ditch and get to the house and, when we got there, all of a sudden it struck me funny. I was laughing.

She said, “You laughing at me?”

I said, “No, you know I wouldn’t do that.” But, I was hysterical laughing.

She said, “You think that was funny?”

I said, “Of course not! That was terrible. I’m so sad. I’m sorry I didn’t fall into the ditch, too. It’s a good thing I didn’t fall with you.”

Then when Lorinda finally came in a couple hours later and said, “How was your day?”

And I said, “Ernestine fell in a ditch.” And I’m laughing hysterically again.

She said, “Why are you laughing?”

I said, “I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing with you.” I said, “You know me better than that by now.” We met at age six. I said, “You know me better than that”, but the laughter was so crazy. Every time I thought about it, I broke out hysterical laughing.

She said, “I’ll get you.” I said, “Please do! Stop me from laughing!” Hysterical laugh every time I thought about what danger we were in. I just broke into all this laughter and it lasted for a couple of days. Every time I looked at her.

It was so pitch black dark, but we always take a shower before bed, but she went first.

She was mad at me. She waited till the next morning. I said, “Why are you mad at me? You know, we’ve been best friends for many, many years.”

She said, “I know, but you never laughed at me.”

I said, “I’m not laughing at you. Honest to God.” And every time I say that, I burst out into laughter. She waited until I went into the bathroom to take a shower, and took my picture.

I said, “Pay back.”

Then she took a shower so I took her picture too. We decided to throw the pictures away

She was mad at me. She was never mad at me before. I wasn’t mad with her, even when she took the picture. It was a pay back. I’ll get you.

Oh, I thought she was dead. That would have paralyzed me more! Not funny. You have a friend that you did just about everything with, she spent nights at my house, spent nights at her house. We became nurses together. She’s a month older than me. We were 16. We worked at the same hospital. We had another friend who joined us, who graduated maybe five years earlier. We would go to each other’s house, sing together, do everything, and then she decides to fall into a ditch. What was I supposed to do?

And I didn’t notice that I wasn’t holding onto her hand anymore. We busy talking and trying to make sure we still know each other’s around and I’m gabbing a mile a minute and then I hear her going, “Help!” Oh my God. I thought she was going to die. I thought they got her! I thought those guys got her! They sort of followed us to the top of the mountain, to the top of the valley.

You know, we had to develop the films in the store. And as we got on back, she said, “Here’s a picture of you.”

I said, “Okay, here’s picture of you.”

And we tore them up and put them in the garbage.