I’ve got one more thing to add to my mysteries of life. Where do all the jokes come from?
I’m not referring to the ones the late shows bombard us with every night. I’m talking about the ones people whisper in your ear at a basketball game or coffee break.
You know the ones I mean. The ones you might not feel quite right telling your mother — or minister. The ones that are just a tad on the naughty order.
And it isn’t anything new. I remember back when I was giving my third-grade teacher gray hairs. Slick passed me a joke on a piece of paper during spelling class. Mrs. Erickson caught us red-handed and made me read it to the class. Luckily, it was one of his nicer jokes.
Back then, the big kids in school were always telling traveling salesmen stories. We weren’t quite old enough to understand most of them and that seemed to make the older kids laugh even more.
Of course, things were a lot different back then. What would have qualified as a dirty joke in 1956 you can probably find in Reader’s Digest today.
Take, for instance, the joke a high school superintendent told me as I was riding home with him from a basketball game.
He asked if I knew how to catch a polar bear.
When I said no, he quickly replied:
“You cut a hole in the ice, sprinkle peas all around the hole. When the bear comes by to take a pea, you kick him in the ice hole.”
I thought that was pretty racy back in the mid-1950s.
The older I got, the more jokes I heard. Few were the days when I didn’t hear a joke or two in school or at work.
I kept wondering who keeps making up all the jokes.
College brought me a new set of friends and jokes, but when I told them back home, everyone had already heard them.
Even more amazing was when I was in the army in San Antonio, Texas, and they were telling the same jokes down there.
As the years continued to roll by, more jokes came rolling in. Few were the stops at the gas station or barbershop without a joke or two.
But all that’s changed. I don’t have to go anywhere now for a few jokes. All I need do is turn on my computer.
Every morning, I fire it up and the jokes start pouring out. It seems to be a neverending flow. Everything from good to bad — with plenty in between.
Heck, they come from all over the place. I get them from my relations, my friends, even my insurance agent. Most of all, I get them from people I don’t know. It’s as if I’d struck a joke gold mine.
And they’re not just typed-out jokes. Not by a long shot. I get them in full color and accompanied with music. Talk about state-of-the-art.
Some deal with religion, some with sex, some with politics, some with pets and some with all the above.
Naturally, I’ve heard some of them, but others are new. It adds a little spice to life just to check my email.
With that in mind, here’s one I just received that is not only repeatable in the newspaper, it also seems to describe the science of weather forecasting.
“In autumn the Indians asked their chief if the winter was going to be cold or not. Not really knowing an answer, the chief replied that the winter was going to be cold and that the members of the village were to collect wood to be prepared.
“Being a good leader, he later went to the phone booth and called the National Weather Service and asked, ‘Is this winter to be cold?’ The man on the phone responded, ‘This winter is going to be quite cold indeed.’ So the Chief went back to speed up his people to collect even more wood to be prepared.
“A week later he called the National Weather Service again and asked, ‘Is it going to be a very cold winter?’ ‘Yes!,’ the man replied, ‘it’s going to be a very cold winter.’ So the Chief goes back to his people and orders them to go and get every scrap of wood they can find.
Two weeks later he called the National Weather Service again and asked, ‘Are you positively sure that the winter is going to be very cold?’
‘Absolutely,’ the man replies, ‘the Indians are collecting wood like crazy!’”
If you liked the joke, don’t thank me — thank R.D. Forbes. (I have no idea who he is.)
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.