November 7, 2011
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I decided to risk telling the first joke I had ever learnt, at the age of five, to my step-son, who was ten, and sitting at a table in an American-style restaurant at the time of my decision. The joke as I remembered it went as follows.
This woman bought a new house, and she wanted a name for it, but she could not think of one. And so she went out with the idea of calling the house after whatever phrase she heard first. She heard some-one say “hairy bum” and so she called the house “Hairy Bum”. Next, she gave birth to a son, and she had no idea what to call him. And so she went out again with the same idea as before. She heard some-one say “Willy” and so she called the son “Willy”. Some time later, Willy got lost. The woman searched everywhere but could not find him. She went to the police station to report him as missing. She said to the desk sergeant, “I have looked all over my Hairy Bum, but I can’t find my Willy.”
My step-son began to laugh at the first mention of the words “hairy bum”, and laughed more and more as the joke went on until, by the idiotically puerile punch-line, he was helpless and unable to speak. This reaction somewhat surpassed my expectations.
When he had recovered himself, he asked a series of questions which indicated that his appreciation of the joke was very different from mine, and from what mine had been, even at the age of five. He wanted to know what the woman had done next and, even more earnestly, he asked whether the little boy was all right in the end.