MARK’S ARTICLE – August 4, 2009
“A ghost of a joke”
In just a little bit I’m gonna tell you a joke that my old friend Rodger Parker told me just the other night. Odd thing about that is the fact that Rodger has been dead for over a decade now. Yet, the guy showed up in my living room just to tell me a joke. – You’ll want to grab a chair and hold on.
I took this picture of Rodger as he was leading me on an excursion to a long ago deserted logging camp.
Some of you may remember that Rodger was Virginia’s dad. The guy went to school through the eighth grade, yet he was among the smartest men I ever knew. I had so many conversations with that old man where I’d nod occasionally just to make him think I knew what he was talking about. He went to his grave actually believing I could keep up.
Still, I thought his joke a bit weird. Didn’t sound like a Rodger joke. Don’t know why he cared to share it with me. But, there he was in my living room.
He showed up on the night I got back from the doctor. The telling of the joke won’t make sense unless I set up the situation. Bear with me here. Hey, you’ve done it before.
I went to the doc for my allergies. They’ve been killing me. You should know that. I defy you to find a garbage can in this house that isn’t filled to the brim with spent Puffs. The kind with lotion. If I didn’t use lotion Puffs, my old honker would look like a torched strawberry marshmallow. The jumbo size.
It was the second time in two weeks I’d been to see the doctor for my allergies. Actually, I couldn’t get an appointment with the doctor till September, but I got his physician’s assistant. I think that’s what they call ‘em. Assistants are easier to see, but you still have to wait when you get there.
The assistant is a super nice and smart young lady. Not as smart as my doctor, though. That guy knows stuff. However, I’ve had to see his assistant the last few visits. I’m not even sure my doctor is still alive.
The assistant listened to my lungs, looked up my nose and in my ears, and then said I needed a shot and some different medication from what she prescribed last time. I tell you, my nose laughed at the last pills. I didn’t know noses could do that.
The assistant then left the room. I thought she’d instantly reappear with a hypodermic and a prescription. No, next thing I know, I hear her talking to a lady next door about some kind of fungus. Have you noticed how there are absolutely no sound buffers at the doctor’s office? I give away some pretty big secrets in those rooms. One can only imagine the amount of giggling that goes on next door.
Turns out, the assistant never returned. Several minutes later, her 14 year-old helper entered the room and told me to drop my pants. I faced the padded, paper-covered contraption and let ‘em drop. She stuck me right in the waist. Could’ve gotten there by me simply raising my shirt. My pants ride kind of low. I think most men’s my age do. It’s a curse.
The girl then gave me the prescriptions the PA had drawn up. She told me she recommended I wait and take one particular pill the next morning. She said the stuff keeps her up all night if she takes it in the evening.
After a considerable wait at the pharmacy, I got home and instantly took the pills. It was evening, but I didn’t care. My nose was running like a bad dog. I did read the side effects of the medication, though. I’ve got ‘em right here. Not making this up. “Unusual weakness, stomach upset, diarrhea, dizziness, cough, headache, nausea, vomiting, TROUBLE SLEEPING, or mouth pain may occur.”
I’m pretty familiar with all of those symptoms except for the mouth pain. Oh, and the diarrhea. I’ve had that problem once in my life. I considered it a blessing.
So, I took the pills and got in bed. After an hour of looking at the ceiling and listening to Kay breathe, I went to the living room and sat in the recliner. I couldn’t watch TV or read. Too nervous. All I could do is sit there and stare. Occasionally, I’d see something out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t care.
Eventually, Rodger showed up. He sat on the couch right next to me and said, “Hey, Mark I’ve got a joke for you. Before I could say anything, he went ahead and told me the joke. Are you ready? Well, six of you are still here. Here goes.
A big corporation contracted out for a state-of-the-art oil tanker to be constructed. The bid went to a bunch of rabbits. You know, Peter Cottontail things. It took the rabbits two years to build the ship. Upon completion, thousands of people showed up to watch the launch.
When it hit the water, the tanker floated for just a few yards and then sank. People went crazy. A committee was chosen to investigate the incident. People wanted to know if the problem was a design flaw, shoddy materials or poor workmanship… uh, workrodentship.
Four months later the committee chairman called a press conference to give the findings. He said, “You know, we’re not even sure those critters can count.”
That’s it. And, it really struck me as funny. By the time I finished laughing, Rodger was gone. The next day, I repeated the joke to several people, including Virginia. Nobody laughed. -- “I don’t get it.” “That’s stupid.” “You’re not pinning that on my dad?” “But, rabbits can’t build things?” These were a few of the comments I received. I heard nothing pleasant.
There’s no question the joke would’ve been funnier had squirrels built the ship. Squirrels are much funnier than rabbits. But, Rodger said it was rabbits, so I had to go with it.
Now, if any of you have ever heard that joke before, please get back to me, ‘cause Rodger’s telling was the first I ever heard it. And, if any of you think the joke even remotely funny, please shoot me an e-mail. I may want to save a few of these pills incase I do a standup comedy routine.