When I was in high school in the sixties, silly jokes were all the rage.
[Historical note: This was back when we actually hung out and amused each other in person, there was no such thing as texting]
My favorites were the Elephant Jokes.
The exchange usually went like this.
Why did the elephant paint her nails red?
Response – “I don’t know.”
So she could hide in a cherry tree.
(Pause, as the rolled eyes resumed their normal position)
You don’t like that? OK, how about this one? Why did the elephant paint her nails red & orange & green & yellow & brown?
I don’t know.
So she could hide in a bag of M& M’s
You sound like you think these are silly? You’ve never seen an elephant in a cherry tree?
Of course not!
See, it works! (accompanied by knee-slapping laughter .)
Somewhere around senior year, jokes took on sarcasm and darkness. Perhaps it had to do with the loss of our hopes and innocence. After all, if Kennedy and Camelot could be taken away from us, nothing was safe. Silly jokes were abandoned for sick jokes.
I remember one warm June night just before graduation, when a group of six or eight of us strolled across the Macombs Dam Bridge from Manhattan to the Bronx.
Yes, strolled, as in walked and Outdoors.
[Historical note: These were pre-video games days. In fact – they were pre-personal computer!]
Yankee Stadium, the original Yankee Stadium, was our destination. We did this every Friday night, not to see a game, just to reach that point and return back to Manhattan.
Tony S. had the stage for one particular sick joke, so we’ll blame its questionable taste on him. I can still see him summoning up all the solemnity possible, considering he was telling a joke.
A man was pacing up and down in the hospital waiting room while his wife was having a baby.
[Yet another historical note. This was pre-Lamaze. The wife labored alone. The husband waited elsewhere.]
He looks up as Dr. Smith enters.
“What is it, Doctor? A boy?”
[last historical note, I promise. These were pre gender- testing days]
“No, Mr. Jones, it’s not a boy.”
“Oh, that’s fine. I have a daughter!”
“No, I’m afraid not.”
“What do you mean? Is my wife OK.”
“Mr. Jones, perhaps you should come see.”
Mr. Jones follows Dr Smith into the nursery and over to a bassinet holding 6 lb, 5oz ear.
“I don’t understand. This is an ear?
“Yes, Mr. Jones, but the worst of it is……………….. It’s deaf.”
I apologize if I’ve offended anyone but the reason I recount it is a recent experience brought it to mind.
I woke up one Saturday morning with a slightly stiff back, nothing new. What was new was the pain that shot through my lower back as I turned to get out of bed. The yelping came not from the dog, but from me. I got through the day, but only by walking very deliberately and by thinking through the process of standing up and sitting down before attempting either. I didn’t think it possible, but the pain was worse when I woke on Sunday morning.
Mysteriously, it had faded to mild discomfort by the time I saw my doctor on Monday, and when I went to the hospital for X-rays on Tuesday it was all just a memory. The cause of my pain remains a mystery. X-rays showed the beginnings of osteo-arthritis, but as the nurse emphasized – very mild.
So what does this have to do with sick jokes?
Just a week prior, I had received the results of a bone density scan, and had gone about bragging to anyone who’d listen that my lower back was one standard deviation above that of a young adult.
So, If Tony S were to tell my joke it would go like this:
Congratulation Virginia your lower back has the bone density of a twenty one year old. Too bad it’s arthritic.