By Nagore Arregui, Spain
“If you want to get my attention, you can choose between two infallible methods: make me laugh or challenge me. This story involves both these things.
“It was around 6 p.m. and I was checking my e-mails on my mobile, sipping a Negroni. Spam, an invitation to a friend’s birthday, my mother asking how I was, more spam… and there it was. The subject was “Miss Arregui, we’d love to smile to you.
“It was a link to access a secret community signed with the logo of Red Quintessence, a legendary organization that I had heard people talk about, but did not believe really existed. You can’t apply for membership: if you are the right person, they will find you. The members all have one thing in common: knowledge of the most hidden human secret, laughter.
“Warning: we are not talking about jokes or television catchphrases. The Red Quintessence studies a primordial reflex as old as mankind, the purest distillate of endorphins, a weapon with devastating power that saves lives and destroys civilizations. Why had I been deemed worthy of that time-honoured circle? I swear that I don’t know. For me, laughing is the most natural thing in life – my customers say that I am made of 70% water and 30% humour. Perhaps an envoy from the Red Quintessence came to my bar one night.
“When I got home, I saw that I had received two authentication passwords: “PRAWNS” and “ARTICHOKES”. I opened my profile and saw that it had already been completed: my story, what I like, what I do… in some ways it was unsettling, but then again I supposed that the Red Quintessence would have to know someone intimately before judging them to be suitable.
“I looked through other members of the network and found famous people alongside ordinary people, men and women of all colours and backgrounds working together to save the world through laughter. This is not hyperbole: as I went on, I discovered that over the centuries the Red Quintessence has avoided world wars by suggesting the right joke during negotiations. Or it has started the revolution that toppled a dictator with the timely distribution of a satirical cartoon.
“I continued reading throughout the night and in the morning I decided that I too would play my part. I wanted to become a guerrilla fighter on behalf of smiling and I began in my favourite place: my bar. The next evening, a new speciality appeared on my bar’s menu, the Quintessenza, to be served strictly with a big smile.”