I’m sitting in a little joint on Second Avenue near 11th Street, trying to do a little work and savor the warm mid-afternoon air. But I can’t. I have to pack up and leave. A group of hysterical shriekers sat down about ten or twelve minutes ago — okay, a shrieking man and a cackling woman accompanied by two hee-hee-ers — and all I want to do is see one of them choke to death on a piece of ham. Or…you know, be garroted by one of the waiters.

It has to be said again because this trend isn’t ebbing — it’s getting worse. There’s nothing quite as awful to me (and others, I presume) as people who laugh like drunken coyotes or wild orgasm dogs in restaurants. The key component in any display of obnoxious public behavior is being utterly oblivious to the possibility that you might be offending others. Clearly such a thought hasn’t occured to the gang sitting next to me now. It’s almost as if they’re getting off in some Marquis de Sade-ish way by bludgeoning people with their hideous gaiety.

I for one have never made other people miserable by laughing loudly — not once. I have never howled or shrieked or thrown my head back and made the paint chip and flake off the wall from my ecstatic gales. And if I’m with a large group that is starting to get louder and louder so as to cause discomfort in others, I’ll politely excuse myself.

My dream job if I wasn’t writing this column would be to join a secret government group modelled on the East German Stasi. Our whole thing would be to go from restaurant to restaurant and surreptitiously video-record offensive shriekers, and then get their info and get into their lives and their tax records and proceed to make them so miserable that they’d be willing to fink on others. And that’s when the fun would start.