My dad died twelve years ago today. He was a lover of the BWCA, John Wayne, L.L.Bean, Bookers Manhattans with extra cherry juice, American history, pickled herring, Pavarotti and Dolly Parton (pretty much in that order). An avid fisherman, outdoorsman, hunter, chef of 40+ (probably 60 clove) garlic chicken. He was a great father and a delighted grandpa to my daughter for the 18 months of her life that he witnessed. He was always around. Present. He was at the most important moments of my life and all of the unimportant ones. One of the things that I loved most and miss most about my dad is his ability to tell a joke. The man could tell a joke.
My dad had a great sense of humor that ranged from painfully corny puns to a very dark wit to some very inappropriate jokes that were reserved for telling on an island in the BWCA with no women within earshot. And occasionally he performed some theatrics. Example: When I had boys over in high school, he would clean his guns. He found this hysterical. I did not. Now I get it. I need to get some guns soon. He was so damn funny. Quick. He laughed easily. When he really got going he took long involuntary inhalations that resulted in a barking seal sound. He made others laugh easily. His jokes were usually long and involved, almost always told in the first person that would cause you to get drawn in like a story. He never let on that he was going to “tell a joke.” And often, much to my delight and to his, his jokes had a double punch line.
I cannot tell a joke to save my life. I can’t even remember them. Somewhere in the middle of telling I realize that I never mentioned the Rabbi and I have the sequence wrong, and I accidentally said monastery instead of bar and I start to have no linear thoughts. Anything beyond a basic Knock Knock joke is beyond my skill set. I wish I could tell them like my dad.
So in honor of him today…I’m going to tell the one and only joke I can remember. He told it to me. I googled it today and it is a well known joke but to me…our family owns it. Also, it seems the original manifestation of this joke had the genders reversed. I don’t know how he heard it but like his version best.
I’m announcing it…I’m going to tell you a joke. Get ready.
~So the weirdest thing happened to me the other day…I was coming out of Caribou Coffee (insert your own plausible location here) and I saw a hearse go by. Actually, I saw a hearse, followed by another hearse…weird right? Yeah…right there at Caribou near Target. (insert plausible detail) And behind that was a lady walking with a dog on a leash…a huge dog…it was like a pit bull (insert plausible threatening dog here) and behind that was a long single file line of dozens and dozens of women walking behind the woman with the dog. It was the craziest thing. So when the lady with the dog got near me…I just had to ask her what the deal was. I said, “Sorry to interrupt but…what happened?” She stopped in the middle of the street and said, “Oh…we had such a family tragedy. My dog attacked my husband. We were arguing and the dog just went crazy…protecting me I guess and my husband tried to fight him off but in the end the dog killed my husband.” Isn’t that awful? I told her how sorry I was and asked her about the second hearse. The woman told me, “That is the really tragic part…my mother-in-law saw the attack and tried to step in to stop the dog. But the dog got even more aggressive with her and attacked her and killed her too.” I couldn’t even believe the story she was telling me! And then she started to walk away following the two hearses down the road…and this whole line of women continued to follow her. I told her how sorry I was again and then just asked her , “Hey, any chance after all of this I could borrow your dog?”
She gestured behind her and said, “Oh definitely, just get in line.”
That my friends is a double punch line joke, courtesy of my dad.
Do me a favor and tell someone this joke today so it lives on…the simple gift of laughter lasts. Maybe tell someone other than your husband or mother in law.