The polite laugh.
Do you have a polite laugh? I TOTALLY do. You know, that laugh that you laugh when you’re with people you don’t really know super well and they make a joke or say something sorta witty and you know you really should laugh because it’s what’s expected, so you laugh. Only, it’s sooo not your real laugh. You know, the laugh that you laugh when you find something rip-roaringly hysterical? The one that, if you happen to be drinking something at the moment there’s a high likelihood that it will come out your nose? Yeah, the polite laugh is in no way related to your real laugh. Totally different monsters.
Yesterday I found myself politely chuckling away, over and over, it was almost a little sad. Sometimes I wonder if the people on the receiving end of my polite laugh can tell the difference. Because if so, that totally defeats the point of politely laughing and I’d just rather not.
When I first started babysitting…oh…like… 15 years ago or something, I would go with my sister and we would tag team to keep the little rascals in line. But when it came to interacting with the parents we would consistently polite laugh at the same time. It just seemed weird because while Amie and I LOOK nothing alike, we sound almost identical, sometimes it’s a little freaky. To save awkward interactions, if I ever answer the phone at her house I always identify myself, especially to her husband. It’s just better that way. We sound alike just in general, but we sound especially similar when we polite laugh at the same time… it’s kind of “Stepford Wives”-ish, pretty, but a little plastic.
So yesterday I had to change banks because, for the second time in two years, my previous bank decided that it wanted to start charging me a ridiculous amount for what had been a free account. I’m not a fan of that. Oh, sure, they give you all of these hoops you can jump through to make it “free” again, but if you use your debit card 9 times instead of 10 one month or if you balance drops below $1000 (!) they smack you upside the head with a fee…not cool.
So I found a new bank that doesn’t do silly things like that and opened up an account last night. Only, the lady who was helping me was very friendly and talkative and was really trying to be funny…with no success. Enter the polite laugh. A lot. It was exhausting.
So here’s the question, is it really impolite to polite laugh? Is it being insincere? I really want to be genuine in all circumstances, but honestly, sometimes my “genuine” is kind of rude. So what’s the balance? Am I doomed to a life of politely chuckling at silly jokes?