I’m home for Thanksgiving break, where the source of amusement is usually my punchy and inappropriate mother.
She and my brother often feed off each other, sending one another into fits of giggles with increasingly ridiculous mental images. I’ve tried to capture them in prose before, but they lose most of their hilarity. For what it’s worth, some perennial favorites are:
– French deer appearing on a talk show while smoking cigarettes, wearing berets and saying that they fart in our general direction.
– Henry, the church program director, announcing that he’ll be there in a second, “I’m just washing down my nuts.”
– My mother’s first reaction when she saw my father – who’d just suffered severe burns thanks to a Girl Scout project – with his head wrapped in a black and white checked towel in the ER: “You look like Yasser Arafat.”
One of my brother’s favorites is asking ridiculous questions. His favorite since the age of 13 he stole from a cartoon called Pinky & The Brain: “If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why does he keep doing it?”
He’s posed it to his seventh grade math teacher and to comedian Jeff Dunham at a nightclub. Both times he got three beats of stunned silence and then snorted laughter. It’s become an inside family joke.
But this holiday my dad has been the funny one. Normally he’s the one shaking his head at my mom and my brother, chuckling but not really joining in. He’s got a great sense of humor. It’s just not their twisted, absurdist sense of humor.
But this Thanksgiving, you see, he had knee surgery. Which meant he was under anesthesia. Which meant he was unexpectedly and ridiculously funny.
It started a few weeks ago when he went in for his regularly scheduled, your-over-50-now colonoscopy. He was still woozy when the nurse informed my mother she should get him dressed and go home. While Mom was working him into his clothes – a procedure akin to dressing an oversized rag doll – my dad reached out and groped her, um, lady bosom.
I cracked up when Mom recalled the story on Wednesday, right before she took Dad in for his knee surgery.
“What if it hadn’t been Mom?” I asked between gasps of laughter while my poor father turned bright red. “What if it had been a nurse?”
What indeed? Turns out Dad was awfully worried about that. After his knee surgery that Wednesday afternoon, the nurse asked if he had any questions. He only had two.
“Did I do anything inappropriate?”
“If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why does he keep doing it?”