October 2, 2021
Imagination, Day 33
“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Look at your 3 best friends. If they’re ok, then it’s you.”
― Rita Mae Brown
I only met my maternal grandfather a couple of times but I do remember him. He had reputations for several things—he could drink copious amounts of alcohol, he was a humorist, and he died from an aneurism that developed when he fell off’n a bar stool.
Our mother told us jokes that Grandaddy had told her. One was about the salesman who walked into a general store and saw a group of men gathered around a pot-bellied stove, laughing. As he watched, one after another of the men would stop laughing long enough to say a number. For instance, one would say, “26” and the others would slap their knees and laugh. Another one would say, “33,” and they would begin to laugh even harder.
The salesman asked one of the men near him what was going on. He was told, “We’ve all gotten together in the mornings for years and we’ve heard all of the jokes, so a while back we numbered them. Now we just call out the number for a joke and everyone knows the punch line, so we all laugh.”
“Can I try it?” asked the salesman.
“Sure, tell us one.”
So the salesman waited for an opening and then he grinned and with eloquence, said, “74.” Nothing happened. No one responded at all. The salesman turned to his friend and asked, “When someone yells out a number, everyone laughs. Why didn’t they laugh when I said a number?”
“Well,” said the man, “Some people can tell a joke and some just can’t.”
Mom could tell a joke. I think I was about 7 or 8 years old when she told me one that I still remember. I still remember it because I didn’t understand it. I’ve thought about it off and on for years. I was probably about 30 or 36 when I finally got it. It really wasn’t all that funny but the fact that it took me that long to understand it was kind of funny. Here it is—I’ll leave it to you to judge.
“Johnny, this little boy about your age went up to the preacher after the church service and asked, ‘Preacher, would you please pray for my granny’s floating kidney?”
‘Well,’ said the preacher, ‘I really don’t like to pray for specifics like that. Perhaps a floating kidney would not be an appropriate prayer.’”
“But,” said the little boy, “I’ve heard you pray for loose livers.”
I remember that Mom folded up laughing. I just stood and stared. That story, then has been with me for almost 70 years.
In later years, Mom or I would refer to “loose livers” during a phone conversation.
I really always thought that loose livers was number 17, but I may have erred.
Well, when brother Tom used the word loose in one of his paintings I thought of mom’s joke. I alluded to the joke obliquely and I sort of picked up that I’m the only one in the family to take that many years to get a punch line.