Another round of holy hilarity to get on with spring

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, April 15, 2009 

So, do you know why the chicken crossed the road? That was the question raised by my family at our Easter Sunday dinner table. But the answer was not at all what I expected: “To prove to gophers that it can be done!”— an answer well-suited to spring days on rural Alberta highways.

Yes, it’s that time of year again – my annual tradition of celebrating holy hilarity week with a selection of some of the best jokes our coffee companions have sent me over the past year.

As you may recall, this column picked up on the holy hilarity tradition seven years ago at the instigation of coffee companion Frank Breisch, a semi-retired Presbyterian minister currently residing in Calgary. He in turn had picked up the tradition from the Eastern European custom of post-Easter lightheartedness that celebrates, as he put it, “the great joke of Easter, the cosmic pratfall as God pulled the rug out from under the powers of darkness and death by the resurrection.”

The tradition is closely associated with the Polish custom of smigus dyngus, the delightful practice of family members surprising each other by sprinkling (or dousing!) each other with water on the Monday following Easter. And yes, that’s exactly what my Polish-heritage grandchildren did to my son and daughter-in-law once again this year, with a squirt gun joining the affectionate fun.

Here are some of the better coffee-cup groaners and chucklers our readers have sent me over the past year.

The first came labelled as The Grandma Test:

I was out walking with my four-year-old granddaughter. She picked up something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that.

“Why?” my granddaughter asked.

“Because it's been on the ground; you don't know where it's been, it's dirty, and probably has germs,” I replied. At this point, my granddaughter looked at me with total admiration and asked, “Grandma, how do you know all this stuff? You are so smart.”

I was thinking quickly. “All grandmas know this stuff. It’s on the Grandma Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you be a grandma.”

We walked along in silence for two or three minutes, but she was evidently pondering this new information.

“Oh, I get it!” she beamed. “So if you don't pass the test you have to be the grandpa.”

“Exactly,” I replied with a big smile on my face.

Grandma and grandpa stories seemed to dominate much of the humour of the past year. Here’s another example:

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside.

She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000.

He asked her about the contents. “When we were to be married,” she said, “my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.”

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

“Honey,” he said, “that explains the dolls, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?”

“Oh,” she said, “that's the money I made from selling the dolls.”

From one end of our lifespan to the other, several of the best bits of humour I’ve received have featured babies, and especially babies captured on video. One advertising video in particular really caught me by surprise, but since I’m not running video with this column, I’ll just have to describe it for you. (But for my web readers I can link you to one of the several video versions of it available online:

A Japanese mother-to-be is in the delivery room, accompanied by her husband and medical staff. The baby finally arrives. A nurse bundles the baby in a nice soft blanket and holds it up for the smiling parents to have their first look. All of a sudden the newborn baby reaches under its blanket, pulls out a camera, and snaps a photo of the proud parents.

A great way to advertise a brand of cameras, eh?

© 2009 Warren Harbeck

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