Saturday, December 8, 2007


My son wasn’t one of those “ha, ha,” funny little kids, but I think he was always interested in humor. I probably first noticed it when he was still in pre-school and his big sister got hooked on knock-knock jokes. One of her favorites was the familiar:

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Dwayne who?”
“Dwayne the bathtub. I’m dwonding.”

Colin had a lesser-known favorite of his own:

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Book who?”
“Book. Are you reading enough?”

Now, of course, the book knock-knock wasn’t funny, but I laughed anyway, so my darling, earnest little comic thought it was hilarious. I laughed the first time I heard it and I laughed the one-hundredth time. Moms are like that. I appreciated then, and I appreciate now, how well he was able to imitate the form of the Dwayne knock-knock joke, even if his made-up version made absolutely no sense at all. He had no idea why Erin’s joke was funny because he was too young to understand it, but he was doing his level best to play the game and get a laugh.

Knowing how to tell a joke well can be a nice attribute in any walk of life. Even the presidential candidates are quoted with their favorite jokes in this morning’s StarTribune. My favorite is the one Mitt Romney tells about his wife:

Mitt: “Ann, did you in your wildest dreams see me running for president?”
Ann: “You weren’t in my wildest dreams.”

Today my precocious little jokester is a charming young man of twenty-one, with a good sense of humor and much better material than the book knock-knock. Last weekend I had the pleasure of watching him bring his comedic wit to the character of the steward in Into the Woods on his college stage. I was also pleasantly surprised when I read his biography in the program.

“I’ve played a few roles in Columbia theater now, the Steward was the only one that was too hard. Nevertheless, I had a great time, made some new friends, and am glad my mom is here to see me.”

Feeling all puffed up about my mention in the program, I failed to read his bio carefully and missed his joke.

“I’ve played a few roles in Columbia theater now, the Steward was the only one that waS TOO HARD. Nevertheless, I had a great time, made some new friends, and am glad my mom is here to see me.”

Funny people usually make good company. It warms my heart to know that my son is one of them.


1. I’m glad the Spigs were able to put “qi” to good use on the Scrabble board. Count me in for your next tournament.
2. Thanks, Emily, for teaching me a new portmanteau word and educating me on SPAM. This is a timely topic, with eleven employees of Quality Pork Processors in Austin, MN suffering from a rare neurological disease after using compressed air to clean brain matter out of hogs’ skulls. Makes me want to rush right out for a can of Spam.
3. I’ll keep my euphoria in check the next time I play “qat,” Colin. It sounds like seriously dangerous stuff and I hope the Somalis who are now living here left it in Africa. Most of the Somali men I see are either driving cabs or collecting money in parking lots. It would not be a good thing if either group became manic or irrational from chewing qat, although it might make a funny comedy sketch.
4. The etymology of the word steward is "sty," meaning pigpen + "ward," which can mean guard. Can we say, then, that flight attendants and palace stewards are employed to guard pigpens?
5. After years of writing stuff and filing it away without any feedback, I really, really appreciate the comments.
6. One more clue for the Thanksgiving Wordoku. The top line is EFWORMAYL. I guess my earlier clue wasn’t very helpful since the “E” was in the original puzzle. Duh! Coming up: Christmas Wordoku.

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