Baranduin's post on Livejournal about the 144 elves that awakened at Cuivienen was very interesting, as 144 is also the number of hobbits Bilbo invited to the Birthday Party -- a number (one gross) that some guests took as an insult. Inspired by her post, I offer a wee scene...
No Laughing Matter
Sam hastily pounded Frodo's back as his master began to choke on his tea. Alarmed, Aragorn hurried to the hobbits' side of the fire, but Frodo waved him off.
"I'm all right, Aragorn," Frodo sputtered. "Just went down the wrong way, is all."
Long after the Ranger had satisfied himself that the Ring-bearer was well, and Legolas had resumed his tale, all four hobbits were still exchanging amused glances and trying not to giggle. Gandalf suppressed his own quiet chuckle until he had walked some distance away. Never in his long life had he imagined that anyone could find humor in the ancient, reverent tale of the Days before the Sun, but leave it to hobbits to surprise him yet again. One gross of Elves! He wondered if Bilbo had ever heard this very tale in Rivendell, and had needed to hurry from the Hall of Fire before he exclaimed out loud in horror or amusement. He would ask the old hobbit about it, someday, should their paths cross again.
The wizard returned to the group, his eyes still alight with mirth. Bless these hobbits, he thought, not for the first time. Nor the last.