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From out of the blue, I received a greeting recently from a classmate in pre-med and in medical school whom I have not heard from for a long time. In fact I am receiving many thoughts and prayers from friends and family lately knowing that I am a frontliner in this war against COVID-19 especially in the ICU.

I wondered what prompted my classmate, but I was both surprised and touched that she remembered me and also my birthday. After hearing from her, I was reminded of our class party during our senior year in undergrad which was held in their upscale home in the Philippines.

In that party we had a game that was patterned to the old game show “Make Me Laugh.” The idea was that the “contestants” would try not to laugh as “comedians” do their best to make them laugh.

Being one of the jokesters during my college days, I was one of them who would attempt to make people laugh. There were 3 classmates of ours as “contestants,” and there were 3 of us “comedians.” If the first comedian was unable to make the contestant laugh, then the 2nd and the 3rd would give it a try. The contestant who would not crack a smile or laugh wins.

I was the first comedian.

I was a lanky kid in college, weighing 115 lbs in a 5’8” frame body. I look like Fido Dido. My gig was I borrowed an over-sized leather jacket (yes, there were leather jackets in Manila) from one of my burly classmates, and I filled the sleeves and the chest area with socks so I looked muscular. I also borrowed a heavy duty power twister bar from a classmate to show that I am trying to flex my arms. In other words, I am like the Filipino actor “Palito” impersonating Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On the first contestant, after I came out of the room and started walking to the contestant, she already burst into laughter as well as the whole class. I did not have to do much. Needless to say the 2nd and the 3rd jokesters did not even need to come out.

On the second contestant, I saw that she was trying so hard to keep it composed when I came out. But when I walked towards her and came face to face with her, she was red and to the point of bursting. After I tried to flex my muscles by bending the power twister (in which I really struggled), she finally lost it and broke into a laugh. Again the 2nd and the 3rd comedians did not have to do a thing.

On the 3rd contestant, I could sense that I would have difficulty making her laugh. She had this calm demeanor that was unperturbed by my nonsensical act. And while the whole class was already rolling in their bellies laughing, she just looked at me with a half-a-smile like that of Mona Lisa. After a minute of trying, I failed to make her laugh. I was a failure!

By the way, the second and the third jokesters did not succeed as well.

At the conclusion of the game, some classmates got hold of me, dragged me, and dumped me in the swimming pool. I had my full street clothes and shoes on! I was just the first one that was thrown into the pool though as what followed next was a pandemonium with many of the class being shoved into the pool. And we were not even drunk as there was no alcoholic drinks involved.

It was not supposed to be a swimming party. Perhaps they blame it on me, for not able to make that particular classmate laugh, that ended up into a pool-dumping frenzy.

On the side note, I know many of my classmates live in exclusive gated communities and have their own swimming pools. However, I pride myself that we have a bigger pool at our house in Sampaloc Manila, that is the whole street turns into a large swimming pool after a heavy downpour.

I admit, I was goofy when I was young, and perhaps I am still today though I may have mellowed. Maybe I just don’t take myself seriously. However at that time I wonder, were they laughing with me or were they laughing at me? It’s just funny that the kid who they probably would not take seriously before is now seriously taking care of people who are ill and in serious condition.

Life has a weird sense of humor.

(*photo taken a few years back at Petra Jordan)

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