The “Ha” Etiquette

This is a short story. It’s a story. And it’s short. And I wrote it. 

Each message is so small that every little subtlety means so much.

Daniel was deep in thought as he stared at the screen of his phone.

One “ha” is different than two. Two “ha”s is different than three. Daniel would never use “LOL.” That’s just not his style.

When you send a text with just one “ha” it’s almost like an insult to the recipient. It’s like telling them that their joke was not funny and that the subject needed to be changed.

“What do you call an unmarried lady breaking a minor law with an interesting look on her face? A miss-demeanor.”

That’s the kind of joke that Daniel would text back with a “ha” and then he would ask an unrelated question that implied “okay, let’s move on from that terrible joke.”

But if you place one “ha” next to another one forming a “haha” then you still need to follow up with something else in the same text. It’s like saying “that was funny, let’s keep this back and forth going.”

“I thought I was watching Mad Men, but it was just a video of my dad shown at his first alcoholism intervention.”

“Haha, your mom always did remind me of Betty Drapper.”

But anything above two “ha”s, well, that just stands alone. It’s essentially like saying “that was so funny that I need to send you a special text just so you know that I’m laughing uncontrollably. I typed out all four of these “ha”s so you better believe I enjoyed that joke.”

The last time Daniel typed out more than four “ha”s in a single text was that day his friend sent him a video of the two penguins dancing at the zoo. In retrospect, it wasn’t really that funny, but he didn’t want to keep the conversation going and typing just one “ha” or even a “haha” without anything to follow it up just seemed rude.

It’s crazy how the simple addition of one “ha” can mean so much to the meaning of a text. But Daniel couldn’t get caught up thinking about it much longer, he had already wasted enough time. He needed to respond to the the text he had just received. Sometimes you just have to use your best judgment on how many “ha”s to use. 

“Haha. Yea, I think the funeral starts at 3:00” 

Jonny Auping

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