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LJ Idol Entry, Week One: "Jayus"

March 17th, 2014 (11:22 am)

Jayus: “From Indonesian, meaning a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.”


Hey, look, a commercial on TV for something called Requip. That must mean to quip again.
I think it's actually for restless legs or something.
No, did you hear me? It means to quip again.

My dad makes the worst jokes.

Though he's been making them all my life, I can't remember most of the actual jokes; they're not only terrible, they're transient. A word or two come up in conversation, and he twists them around, manages to make some sad corkscrew of a pun out of them, and then ignores us as we roll our eyes. And as we try to suppress our giggles. The so-bad-it's-good model of humor has been a constant current through all of my remembered years.

(The truth is, we don't even know how many bad jokes he's spared us over the years. Occasionally you'll see him laugh to himself, apparently over nothing. "What is it?", you'll inquire, and he'll reply, "Just told myself a joke." "Well, what was it?" "It wouldn't be funny outside my head.")

And unfortunately for my wife, these are things I've picked up. I too make terrible horrible no-good very bad puns. "So what?" she might inquire of me, and I'll respond, "Sew buttons." By now it's not really even a joke anymore; it's a mantra. A tradition.

It's a comforting thing, somehow, this passage of bad-jokery from one generation to the next. ("Did you get your hair cut?" someone might ask him. "I got all of them cut," he'll reply.) We might groan, we might pretend the next bad joke will cause us to snap, but inside we're laughing, because it's who Dad is -- the easygoing guy who brings the puns to the table when he's happy. And he's happy most of the time. And that has made our lives happier. The bad jokes are part of what family means to me. And I have willingly carried them over into my life and my home.

My wife λ and I are planning on having a child soon. It's an incredibly scary idea. I'm terrified that I might not be able to handle it, that I'll break down, that I'm too high-maintenance and too prone to mood swings to handle caring for a little person who will depend on myself and my wife for everything, from wiping their butt to gaining a safe, joyful attitude as they move into the world. But then one day I might say to λ, out of the blue --

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Knock who?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Knock who?
Knock knock...

-- and λ will giggle and groan at the same time. And then she'll tell me, "Our kid will love that one."

And it calms me down, thinking of how my parents managed to raise us, thinking about what a good job they did, how safe and loved they made me feel and how important that was as I grew up and began to live independently. And those bad jokes were a part of all of that process. It was part of our family, a familiar ritual that drew us closer together, just by virtue of who Dad was and who we were when we were together. And it's a million little things just like that that helped to create our warm, happy home. I think I've learned some of those things and can pass them down now. I hope I have.

So I think the bad jokes are a pretty good thing. Obviously, there are a whole lot of things that are objectively scary about parenting, things I don't know how to do yet. But even if I am going to have to pick up 99% of it on the fly, there is this one thing I know I can handle: I can tell bad jokes.

It's a start.


Posted by: baxaphobia (baxaphobia)
Posted at: March 17th, 2014 03:53 pm (UTC)

The bad jokes are just one thing you can pass on so they can live forever! hahaha

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: March 17th, 2014 04:25 pm (UTC)

I wish I remembered more of them specifically! "Sew buttons" is a classic that I'll never let go though.

Posted by: blahblahblah, whatever (kathrynrose)
Posted at: March 17th, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC)

"It wouldn't be funny outside my head."

I know that feeling. :)

You'll be a great parent. It makes me hopeful for the future when my cool friends have kids.

Posted by: penpusher (penpusher)
Posted at: March 17th, 2014 10:28 pm (UTC)
Disney Channel

I wish all that parents would subject their kids to was all their bad jokes. I'm sure everyone in the world would be better for it!

Posted by: witchwife (witchwife)
Posted at: March 18th, 2014 02:29 am (UTC)

I think being able to tell bad jokes is a requirement of being a parent. (Thinking of experiences with my own dad!)

This cracked me up, "The truth is, we don't even know how many bad jokes he's spared us over the years."

Posted by: MamaCheshire (cheshire23)
Posted at: March 18th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)

My younger child only recently figured out how to tell the knock knock banana joke - before that it was always her name in response to the "who's there?" and she'd just giggle.

Posted by: Vice Captain of the Universe (sweeny_todd)
Posted at: March 18th, 2014 01:10 pm (UTC)
mr hell himself

It is the little things - and even when you can't remember the details, you remember the feelings. lovely :-)

Posted by: solstice_singer (solstice_singer)
Posted at: March 18th, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC)

I've never been a parent, and don't plan to be. However, I've heard many people say they learn as they go. I'm guessing it's normal to be nervous though.

Posted by: unmowngrass (unmowngrass)
Posted at: March 18th, 2014 08:37 pm (UTC)

I love how you've used the bad jokes without making the entry into a bad joke. That's a break from the norm so far :-)

Posted by: elledanger (elledanger)
Posted at: March 18th, 2014 11:55 pm (UTC)

I really love when jokes stop being jokes and become instead a private language shared by family and friends.

Posted by: Beautiful Disaster (pennywhistle)
Posted at: March 19th, 2014 02:29 am (UTC)

I say "sew buttons" too :-)

Posted by: Kelly (kajel)
Posted at: March 19th, 2014 02:01 pm (UTC)

"It wouldn't be funny outside my head."

hehe Bad jokes by parents are a great legacy.

Posted by: whipchick (whipchick)
Posted at: March 19th, 2014 02:20 pm (UTC)

This is so sweet and loving - I so enjoyed reading!

Posted by: lawchicky (lawchicky)
Posted at: March 20th, 2014 02:09 am (UTC)

I totally get this.

My dad tells the worst jokes too!

Posted by: Jemima Pauler (jem0000000)
Posted at: March 20th, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC)

It's a good start. :)

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