I will go to my grave remembering my first checking account number (6185021200); every word of Macbeth’s soliloquy in Act 5 Scene 5 of the eponymous play (“…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”); and the names of all the boys I’ve ever kissed (which I won’t include since my mother reads this).
But remember a new joke? Impossible. When someone unloads a lulu in my direction that absolutely makes me lose my breath through paroxysms of laughter, I vow to commit it to memory. Predictably, when I try to recall it only hours later for my husband or my friend Jules (who laughs at anything, God bless her – see Figure 1), it’s gone.
I do, however, have the capacity to carry ONE joke–reliably–in my back pocket. I roll it out to my students each year when the time is right and delight in the range of reactions: from pretending they get it, to appreciating its relevance, to shock and embarrassment. (That I always set it up by closing the classroom door and making them swear to “not tell your parents you heard this joke from me” adds a sense of impropriety that hooks ’em like barracudas on a hot dog.)
Ready? You can listen to the joke here. (Don’t forget to close the door.)
Do you have a “back pocket joke”? Go ahead; make me laugh! (Share it below.)