How many Alaskans does it take to change a light bulb? Well, that all depends on the time of year. In the winter, it takes as many people as you can squeeze into your house, because everyone is dying for the slightest excuse to get out of the house, potluck dish in hand, in order to party the Seasonal Affective Disorder blues away. In the summer, however, it takes zero, because everyone is busy frantically working their gardens and remodeling their houses and using their vacation time. Besides, who needs a light bulb under the perpetual daylight of the midnight sun anyway?
Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! How’d you like that joke? Whooooheee! Nyuk, nyuk! I made it up all by myself! Hardee har-har…Oh, wait! Why is nobody laughing? Heh, heh. Come on, now, you’ve got to admit that was pretty good. A side-splitter? A real hoot? What’s that? Not really? You say you’ve heard more hilarious funeral eulogies. I see. Fine! Be that way. Go ahead! Flaunt your stoic inability to register appreciation for quality humor. I guess you’d just have to be an Alaskan sourdough with a rapier-like wit to understand it.
Good grief! I can’t believe how many people were born with congenital malformation of the funny bone. Even my wife harasses me for telling what she calls “corny old worn-out jokes”. Well, I happen to like corn. It’s one of my favorite flavors. Secondly, she’s getting to that stage in life when it might serve her well to begin to sift the word “old” from her vocabulary—unless she finds the idea of being married to an old man romantic. Just because I’ve been around the block a few times doesn’t make me old, and the fact that certain jokes have seen a few harvest moons doesn’t automatically mean they are “worn out”. Can you say “classics”? My jokes wouldn’t have survived the years if they were the effete, mediocre, listless, hackneyed, clichéd dabs at levity, she seems to imply. Reasonable people don’t mock a fine cheese or a vintage wine or an aged cigar for being too old, but as soon as I tell a joke a couple of dozen times, my wife starts rolling her eyes and shaking her head like she’s experiencing some sort of a neurological malfunction.
It’s degenerated to the point where she has made me sign an agreement that I will number my jokes. Then, whenever I feel the need to perceive myself as funny, I must call out a particular joke’s number, whereupon she promises to vocalize an audible laugh for at least 1.5 seconds. In turn, I may not relate, deliver, perform, tell, narrate, or communicate that or any other joke, pun, aphorism, riddle, one-liner or humorous anecdote of any sort whatsoever, till death do us part. If I should breach any part of this agreement, I am contractually bound to be subject to persecution to the fullest extent of her law, up to and including the immediate application of the aforementioned “death do us part” clause.
She calls it a win-win situation. I was pretty excited about it at first. Who wouldn’t settle for a 1.5 second audible laugh as opposed to something that resembles seizure symptoms? Sadly, the arrangement turned out to be not nearly as glamorous as it sounded. The first day I tried the new system it flopped horribly. Upon feeling the familiar throb of cleverness beginning to engulf my funny bone, I reared back, and in my best stand-up-comedian style belted out, “3”! Immediately, I noticed that my material felt a bit flat and lacking in substance. I was used to one-liners, but one-numeralers? Nevertheless, thanks to my improvisational genius and flawless comic timing I didn’t skip a beat. I deftly tilted my wrist, looked at my watch, and prepared to time the audience response.
The response came quickly in such a disappointing fit of eye rolling and head shaking that I began to entertain the fantasy of force feeding her an entire bottle of Phenobarbital. “What’s wrong?” I shrieked. “I thought you were supposed to laugh for 1.5 seconds!” My devoted wife then proceeded to refer to some alleged fine print in our agreement that I had somehow overlooked. Evidently, her contractual obligations were only binding under the condition that I called out a number which correlated to an actual joke in my personal repertoire. Or, as she more pithily put it: “Number 3? Very funny! Do I look like I just fell off the turnip truck? You don’t know three jokes.”
That’s where she’s wrong, of course. I know hundreds of jokes. If I don’t know one appropriate to the situation, I can make a real thigh-slapper up on the spot. I think that makes people jealous. I say that because I’ve noticed that my wife isn’t the only one to take a dim view of my mastery of the hilarious quip. My father-in-law is a case in point. I had always heard that balding gentlemen were supposed to be good-natured. But no matter how I have attempted to tailor my humor to a genre he can personally relate to, he doesn’t seem to get it. You see, Dwight sports a thick shock of hair that flows down his back. It’s just unfortunate that he doesn’t have any on his head. In fact, when he wears a turtleneck, he looks like a stick of roll-on deodorant. Naturally, when the opportunity presents itself, I use this detail as material for my humor.
“Hey, Dwight, are you getting taller?”
“I don’t think so, why?”
“Because your head is sticking up through your hair. Ha-ha-ha-ha! Hardy har-har-har, hee hee…”
“Very funny. I should have known this was another one of your tasteless bald jokes.”
“Don’t denigrate yourself! You’re not bald, you’re just taller than your hair.”
“Aaaargh! What kind of a fool was I to let you marry my daughter! Why do you have to be constantly making fun of my receding hairline?”
“You don’t have a receding hairline, just an advancing scalp.”
“AAAAAARGH! Somebody please give me the telephone number of a professional hit man. Can’t you get it through your head that there’s a difference between being bald and having a wide part?”
“Your hair isn’t parted, it’s departed.”
“It’s a part, I tell you!”
“Maybe so, but that’s the first part I ever saw with ears in it.”
“Honey, would you please fetch me my shotgun! Why dost thou despise me, oh son-in-law?”
“Now, now! Let’s not get riled up. I don’t despise you. I actually admire you. You are clearly a shining beacon of integrity. In fact, I think I need my sunglasses…”
“Does this train of thought have a caboose? I’m warning you…”
“No, please listen to me before you do anything rash. The fact that you are follically challenged means nothing to me. I don’t judge a man by his disabilities. What I admire is character, and obviously there is less between you and heaven than most people. Clearly God favors you. Just look how He blessed you. He gave you a handsome face and room for another one.”
“OK, that does it! The gloves are coming off. No more Mr. Nice Guy.”
“Uh, don’t you mean ‘no more Mr. Clean’?”
“AAAAAAARGGGGGGG! Didn’t your mamma ever teach you that making fun of somebody for a physical characteristic they cannot control is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. I get sick and tired of people making jokes about me.”
I had never seen him sob before. “I get sick and tired of people telling me I should grow a beard and walk around on my hands. I get sick and tired of people always poking me in the head with billiard cues. I get sick and tired of pilots mistaking me for a runway beacon! I get sick and tired of ostriches always chasing me in order to try to sit on my head and hatch it! I can’t help it that I’m bald, any more than you can help it that you’re short! How would you like it if I started making wisecracks about you being vertically challenged?”
That was uncalled for. “Oh! Oh! See, now, that was uncalled for! I was just trying to have a good time, but then you had to go and make it personal. I am not happy!”
“Really? Which one are you, then? Grumpy? Dopey?”
“You’re going to think I’m Gimli as soon as I grab my axe from the woodshed.”
“Noooo! Please don’t reach up and chop me on the ankle!”
“Ow! That hurts. Such venom! Why don’t you just spit in my face while you’re at it?”
“I would never stoop so low.”
I think this is a good place to interrupt the transcript. I don’t see any point in subjecting you to the remainder of the content of that dialogue. All you need to know is that it consisted of a rapidly deteriorating commentary on my diminutive size. It was an interminable series of insults, really, thinly veiled beneath the guise of jocular banter. Honestly, I don’t understand how somebody could be so callous!
As you can clearly see, nobody appreciates my sense of humor, especially since I have found it less traumatic to my ego to stop verbalizing my jokes out loud. Since I’m the only one that laughs at them anyway, I just tell them to myself inside my own head. I laugh out loud at them though. They can’t deprive me of that right. After all, somebody has to acknowledge my brilliant wit.
They can snub me all they want. Someday when I’m on Saturday Night Live, or Comedy Central, they’ll be sorry. When they get a chance to catch their breath from laughing so hard, they’ll wrinkle their brows, scratch their heads and murmur, “George Hosier…George Hosier? Where have I heard that name before? Hey, wasn’t that the name of that short little geek that used to wander around Delta Junction snickering and guffawing to himself?” Then they’ll probably go jump in the Tanana River in remorse for all the weird looks they used to give me, and the times they called the Troopers on me. That’ll be hilarious!
Oh…one parting joke: If you’re paddling upstream in a canoe and the wheels fall off, how many pancakes does it take to shingle a doghouse? This is one of my favorites. Give up? The answer is: “13, because bananas don’t have bones.” Ha-ha-ha-ha! Whoooo-hoo-hoo-heee! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk! Hardee har-har-har…OUCH! Stop throwing things!