The Joke is on me


I love music, but I can’t play a thing on any instrument, not counting chopsticks on a piano. Even then, my version is pretty shaky.

I took drum lessons when I was 14, but I quickly learned I didn’t have what it took to become a drummer. I think my folks were actually relieved.

My voice is okay, especially in shower mode, but my days of singing in public are done. In the past I have done a decent enough job on “Danny Boy” that people would walk up to me surprised I could do the song.

As a kid, I had a lot of solos in school events before my voice changed becoming much lower, that I separated singers from musicians. Since I can’t make music any other way but my voice, I am in awe of people who are gifted in pulling sweet sounding notes out of instruments. Trumpets, especially, impress me.

My lack of musical ability doesn’t mean I don’t know music. I can’t read it, but sometimes I only need to hear a second or so of a song and I know immediately what it is. I have been blessed with friends and acquaintances who made it their mission to introduce me to all types of music.

A customer who used to come into the place I worked in D.C. found ou my knowledge of jazz was minimal, so every week he brought in a jazz cassette for me to play in the bar that evening and then take home. Jazz suited this place. This man, who was a top-notch attorney, gave me every recording of Billie Holiday. His efforts payed off. I love to listen to all types of jazz.

DJs from so many places I worked gave me music but it was having my own place in Taichung, Taiwan for five years took me into a new appreciation of music. I had DJs over those years play in my place on Friday and Saturday who came from the U.S., Canada, Singapore, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Denmark and Germany. The music from South Africa was probably the most interesting and very enjoyable.

I appreciate music even if I can’t play. I learned you take your strengths where you can. I might not have any talent in creating music but I can be proud of knowing many types from many places.

Another thing I really can’t do is tell a joke well.

It is not so much that I can’t tell a joke, I just don’t remember them properly. I almost always mess something up. The joke then falls flat.

This is especially embarrassing since so many people expect a bartender to be able to tell them a joke.

Numerous times I would have a customer sitting at the bar I was working at ask me to tell them a joke.

For so long, I would fess up that I was a terrible joke teller. This did not help my tips. I realized I would have to have at least one staple joke. After several decades of bartending, I have two.

My favorite one to tell I heard when I was 16 or so. My best friend and I were sitting in Burger King and he told it to me. To this day, I still remember how he cracked me up with this story.

“There was this cowboy that walked into a bar out West and gruffly demanded a shot of whiskey after pounding his fist on the bar. The cowboy does the shot except for this tiny little portion at the bottom and then after looking at it, pours it into his breast pocket. Immediately the cowboy goes, ‘Bartender, bartender, give me another drink’. The bartender does and the cowboy does the exact same thing of drinking almost the entire shot, leaving a tiny bit and pouring it down his breast pocket. The cowboy asks for another shot, but this time his voice is getting a bit slurry and loud.

The shot going to the cowboy can be one more time or several depending on the joke teller. At the end, the cowboy will ask for another shot. “No man, you have had enough. I can’t serve you any more ‘ the bartender replies. The cowboy incensed yells, “Bartenduh you betta git me nother drink or A’hm gonna jump ovuh this bar and kick yo butt.” Then a little mouse jumps out of the cowboy’s breast pocket and in a high squeaky voice shouts ‘That goes for your g------ cat too.”

With this joke, I mix up how drunk the cowboy gets and what the bartender says when cutting the drunk off. Fortunately, since I have told it enough times, I don’t often screw it up. Plus, living in Wyoming, this joke worked especially well when I tended bar in this state. It also amused people when I told it overseas.

Every once in a while a customer would insist on hearing another joke. I tried to explain I was a one joke wonder, but again I found it was worth the effort to learn one more joke.

A woman comes into a doctor’s office and explains that her sexual appetite isn’t up to what her husband would like.

“Is there anything I can take to remedy this?”

The doctor gives her four blue pills and says “Take just half a pill to start off with.”

The woman leaves happy. The next week she comes back a little upset.

“I might have wrecked my marriage. Instead of just taking the half pill, I took all four at one time.”

The doctor shakes his head in disbelief. “What happened?”

The woman tells her story.

“About a half hour before dinner, I took all four. In the middle of dinner, I don’t know what came over me, but I practically ravaged my husband. I leapt up and dragged him on the table, spilling our bottle of wine, breaking dishes, glasses and I totally ruined the tablecloth. I never behaved like that in my life.”

The doctor, feeling bad even though it was not his fault because she did not follow directions, offered to buy her the bottle of wine knocked over and replace the tablecloth.

“Don’t give it a thought about replacing anything doctor, I am sure they will never let us in that restaurant again.”

Eventually I learned, I can tell two jokes well because I know that is my limit. Trying to do more just doesn’t serve anybody.

Sure I would love to be able to play several instruments well and have the ability to tell countless jokes that would have people bursting at the seams, but what I can do, I accept as good.

I think in the scheme of life; that is best you can ask for.


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