Leo Daedalus endures the worst, most injurious jokes so you don’t have to. One joke even sent him to the hospital.
Author’s Note: This memoir is based on my real-life experiences. I mean, mostly not, but the jokes described herein were told to me, and I did suffer. The moose one was told by an ex-girlfriend’s dad, a lawyer who was an adult man. How did he pass the bar? What’s going on with the Michigan legal system? I have a lot of unanswered questions.
I heard a joke that deeply offended me. You’ll never hear trash like that out of me. I’ll tell it to you in a minute but first a little background. It was told to me by a guy we’ll call, oh, Stove Memberinson, to protect the innocent, i.e. me. Also present were, let’s call him Bile Smiff, and my best friend Bavid Lee Roth (real name; doesn’t care).
One day we were skipping recess and Stove says, “Hey I got a joke.” We knew we were in for a treat. Stove had a much older brother in the fifth grade, so he always knew the latest words for body parts before they filtered down to the general third grade.
“So there’s this kid,” Stove begins. He’s already tittering, so we’re already tittering. This was going to be good. “And his name is Johnny Fuckerfaster.”
Just, no. So offensive. Hello?! I’m in the third grade for goldarn sakes! A wide-eyed lad with so much still to learn about life, so much to discover. And you’re wasting my fucking time with a joke that plainly has the punch line built right into the setup??? Come on! I throw my hands up in pointed reproof and say, “Let’s get outta here, Bavid, we don’t need to attend to this pandering drivel.” But Bavid demurs, keen to discover what is to befall young Mr. Fuckerfaster.
I don’t have to tell you that when the hero’s mom, seeing him doing it with a lady, chastens him with a yell of “Johnny Fuckerfaster!” the boy exclaims, “I’m trying, mom!” Because you, dear readers (many of whom well past the third grade), saw it coming. Just as Bavid and Bile should have. Well, maybe not Bile.
Naturally, I never spoke to Stove Memberinson again. At least not until I had to apply for that home loan. And, once again, he got my dander decidedly up. At our first meeting he handed me his card and opened with, “So there’s this lady and she has a dog named Free Show.” I know, I know, but what was I to do? I needed the loan. Fresh out of the shower, the lady, it seems, ran down the street calling after her dog who had somehow (it was not specified) gotten out of the house. Later, I called Bavid to vent. “The thing is,” I complained, “obviously the dog’s name was the punch line, but I just couldn’t quite piece it together. I should have seen it coming, though, because she was a lady. That’s what really hurts.” Bavid replied that, oh, now he got it, because she was a lady and she was naked and that was like a free show because she was naked. Ironic, with that being the name of the dog and everything. I poured myself the 21-year-old Glenfiddich from the locked cabinet with the broken lock because I needed to decompress and reassess my life.
I poured myself the 21-year-old Glenfiddich from the locked cabinet with the broken lock because I needed to decompress and reassess my life.
The home loan went through and, with the help of my lovely second wife, Linda, and our golden retriever, a rescue dog named Naked Boobies, I moved past the pain and rebuilt my life. All was well for a blissful sixty-month period, at the end of which we had to refinance. I went to a different bank this time but, unbeknownst to me, Stove Memberinson had recently acquired that one too. I found myself, alone and scared, in his new office, filling out paperwork while Stove launched into a new species of joke he had recently discovered: the so-called Book Never Written. The way it works is, I tell you the title of an imaginary book, and then I tell you the author’s name, which, you could say, retroactively collapses the title into a punch line. (No time to get into quantum mechanics here, but I direct the interested reader to Roberts Eisberg and Resnick’s excellent Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles [2nd ed.] [Wiley, 1985].)
Let me give you an example. Book Never Written: Yellow River by I.P. Freely. Get it? Because presumably Mr. or Ms. Freely is an authority on Chinese geography or riparian ecology who also urinates prodigiously. This is an exemplary expression of the form.
For forty-five minutes, Stove delivered a rapid volley of witty and thought-provoking BNWs. I was impressed. People grow. And yet … and yet. Just as I was about to inscribe the final, decisive signature, Stove suddenly gripped my wrist. His eyes were wide, his look manic. A portion of his combover wafted about menacingly. Fixing me with a licentious gleam, he said, “Oh! Oh! Okay: Book Never Written.” I tensed. A bead of sweat rolled down my forehead. He continued, “Antlers in the Treetops.” I felt his hot breath on my face. My lower lip quivered. He concluded, “by Who Goosed The Moose.”
When I came to, I found myself in a hospital bed, my brow gently dabbed by my third wife, Justine (a lot had happened during my blackout). Looking up into her kind, moist eyes, I asked her, confused and frightened, “What kind of a name is Who Goosed The Moose? Oh God, Justine! Who has a name like that? What published author would ever be named Who Goosed The Moose?”
Justine, bless her heart, tried her best to console me. “I don’t know, honey. No one knows. But I think it’s only just to make the title, Antlers in the Treetops, funny. Because ….”
“I know!” I roared. “Dammit, Justine! If the moose were to be goosed, it would presumably leap fantastically high, prompting an observer to memorialize the resultant spectacle in a book, a book plausibly entitled ….” Weakened, my voice trailed off.
“Antlers in the Treetops,” Justine whispered.
“Yes,” I replied. “Yes! But that in no way justifies the author’s name!” I swung myself violently, tearing out the IV. “What next, Justine?! What next?! Eh?! Will it be, oh I don’t know, Book Never Written: Lumbar Spine Trauma, by I Slipped On A Banana Peel?? Or … or … Book Never Written: Sorry I’m Several Minutes Late to the Bar Mitzvah, by I Couldn’t Find A Parking Space Less Than Eight Blocks Away From The Synagogue??! Where will it end, Justine??! Where will it end??! Oh God.”
Needless to say, the refinance didn’t go through. Anyway, I had some concerns about the terms of the adjustable-rate mortgage. But that was all many years ago. Am I over it now? I don’t know. Some nights are worse than others. But I am well on my way to getting out of this wheelchair and feeding myself with a spoon. The process has been long and hard, and I couldn’t have done it without the helping hand of my amazing fourth fiancée, Gina Thatswhatshesaid.