What's funny? What isn't? And why do I never get a laugh when I tell that joke about the moose?

Friday, September 17, 2010

O is for Old Age

“It seems to me that getting old is like falling down a very deep well in the dark. It’s an exhilarating, if slightly terrifying trip. You might even be able to enjoy yourself, if it weren’t for the screams of the people hitting the bottom in front of you.”

“We mock the things we are to be.” Mel Brooks said that in his persona as the 2000 Year Old Man. (Who must have actually been much older if he remembered living in caves before there was spoken language.)

Old age is a continuing source of humor—primarily of the whistling in the dark variety. “Look at those funny people all bent over and spitting!” And the next thing you know, we’re bent over and spitting.

Old age triggers fear—fear of death, fear of losing our facilities….fear of losing ourselves. And THAT is why we’re constantly telling jokes about it.
Mr. Smith is talking to Mr. Jenkins at his palatial apartment in Miami.

“It’s too bad you couldn’t join us for dinner last night,” Smith says. “We went to this incredible new restaurant. Excellent food, great wine, and very reasonable prices.”

“Oh?” says Mr. Jenkins, “What was the name of the restaurant?”

“It was called…called….Oh, hell! What’s the name of that red flower with thorns?”

“You mean ‘rose’?”

“That’s it!” Smith called into the next room: “Rose! What’s the name of the restaurant we went to last night?”

Frankly, as I continue to lose hair, teeth and brain cells, I think longingly of those societies we’re always told about. You know, where old people are admired and looked up to for their “wisdom.”

I keep wondering if people in those societies dye their hair grey, deliberately walk as bent over as possible, and wear glasses that don’t actually correct their vision. They probably have makeup that leaves their skin blotchy, too.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones were celebrating their 50th anniversary, and they gathered at their home to celebrate with their three children and various grandchildren. The party continued for some time until finally the time came to present the senior Joneses with their gifts.

The oldest son stood up first. “Mom, Dad,” he said. “You know that I’ve suffered a number of business reverses in the last year or so. I just wasn’t able to buy you a gift.”

The younger son stood up next: “Mother, Father,” he said. “All three of our kids are in college at that same time now. We just couldn’t afford to buy you a gift this year.”

The daughter stood up next” “Ma, Pa,” she said. “After 50 years, I knew that there was nothing that you really need or want. So I didn’t bring a gift, only my love.”

Mr. and Mrs. Jones looked at each other. Then Mr. Jones stood up, cleared his throat, and said the following:

“Your mother and I want to thank you for all your kind wishes. And there’s something we thought we’d share with you after all these years. Your mother and I…well, we never actually got married.”

There was startled murmuring from the gathering.

“Yes, it’s true,” insisted Mr. Jones. “Which only goes to prove: not only are you a bunch of bastards, you’re a bunch of CHEAP bastards!”

Not only do I really like that joke, but I always remember the time my father in law told it. My F-I-L is a very nice man with a good sense of humor, and is a decorated war hero who could kill me with his little finger. (Well, maybe not anymore: he’s got arthritis).

But he should NOT tell jokes.

Some time ago, he told the above story at a family gathering (it may even have been to celebrate his anniversary). He told the joke pretty much as written above, except he forgot to include the bit about Mr. and Mrs. Jones never having gotten married.

The result was, he came to the punch line, and proclaimed:

“And Mr. Jones says: ‘You’re all a bunch of cheap bastards!’”

Then he sat back, with a huge grin on his face, surveying the confused faces of his family and waiting for his laugh.

Ahhhh, the Awkward Silence.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010