Last week we were sitting at the table with the kids. I’m pretty sure we eating as it seems to be the only time we can get the kids to sit with us, and then only for a few minutes. So, there’s Kealoha and me and our 6 and 7 year-olds. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m pretty sure Simone started it.
She’s 6 and is pretty feisty. She'll randomly start singing songs and cluck her tongue and then pretend like nothing happened. She just does that. She’s also just learned a bunch of knock-knock jokes at school and she’s starting to understand puns.
Simone asked Kealoha if he knew any knock-knock jokes, and then it started.
KEALOHA: Knock knock.
SIMONE: Who’s there?
SIMONE: Cash who?
KEALOHA: No, I don’t like cashews but I’ll take a peanut.
SIMONE: (Pause. pause) Oh! I get it. CashEW. Hahahaaha!
Now, I don’t know how it started exactly, but I knew that once they started telling Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road jokes, that the Bob jokes were next. Kealoha looked at me and I saw that evil sparkle in his eyes. I just shook my head in the way that acknowledged this was inevitable so please just get it over with.
KEALOHA: So what do you call a guy with no arms and no legs in a swimming pool?
SIMONE: Why hasn’t he got any arms or legs?
KEALOHA: That’s not the point. What do you call him?
I grimaced here because it’s a stupid joke and it always makes me laugh and then I feel guilty about laughing because there are people out there who don’t have any arms or legs and some of them are veterans and they probably wouldn’t bob in a pool of water but sink straight down, and some of them might even be glad about it. That’s what I was thinking. But back to the conversation.
SIMONE: Oh! I get it! Ha!
KEALOHA: What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs lying outside your door?
This went on and on and I did struggle with the whole “is this appropriate” and then I thought, “fuck it”. Then Kealoha started making up his own jokes and I even joined in. You could see the kids thinking about them and trying to get why they were funny. Sometimes they’d laugh; sometimes not. Simone got really excited. She made up one of her own “Bob” jokes.
SIMONE: Okay! Okay! So, uhm, what do you call a man with no arms and no legs standing…
KEALOHA: He can’t stand. He doesn’t have any legs.
SIMONE: (blink blink) Okay. So. What do you call a man with no arms and no legs standing on broken glass? Kealoha’s eyes got really big here and I sort of gasped.
There was silence in the room for a good ten seconds and then I started laughing uncontrollably. It was so completely surreal, so NOT funny, that every time I think about it (even now), I just lose it.
Kealoha cleared the tears from his eyes, and I tried to gently explain why an armless and legless man standing on broken glass isn’t funny, but an armless and legless man lying in front of your door IS. The kids didn’t get it.
Kealoha then started to tell a leper joke, but even I have limits. I changed the subject to “What kind of ice cream do you want for dessert?”
I do believe there’s a time and a place to teach children about the intricacies of humor, and I’m thinking that maybe the time isn’t quite right yet.
And I’m still thinking about the poor guy named Mirror sitting out in the cold on a pile of broken glass. Dude. That’s not funny.
Except it sort of is. So maybe Simone is a surrealist comic genius or something. Or she needs therapy already. We're still trying to figure that out.