My kids groan every time I open my mouth. Mostly because I like humour and enjoy being funny, but it rarely works when I try to tell a joke. You see, I suffer from that terrible disease….I can’t remember jokes I’ve heard or read and end up repeating the same old, tired jokes over and over again….especially ones my mum handed down over the years. I have a stock of them. Anyway, I tend to like fresh humour, the kind I find in situations as they happen around me. No punch lines, just funny stories.
Another Blogger recently got in touch telling me he liked a Blog I had written. It reminded him of his time on the towpaths of Britain. I, in turn, read his latest Blog which happened to be about Montreal. It was actually about being connected with each other and was extremely well written. But it took me back to my days….mostly weekends….spent in Montreal when the lady I was seeing at the time (I won’t say how long ago….that’s funny in and of itself) was training to be an Air Canada Flight Attendant.
My first trip to Montreal was in 1955 when the ship I sailed in from England landed there. My next trip was to Expo ’67, Montreal’s contribution to World Fairs. But I digress. Nothing really funny about Montreal, but on one occasion it became the backdrop for one of the funniest stories of my life. There have been many, none funnier than moving from a house to a canal boat just as winter was coming on.
This story, though, begins many years ago when I was going somewhere with someone in a car….can’t remember who or when, doesn’t matter. We were driving by a very large cemetery when the driver asked (I know you all know this one by now), “How many people do you think are dead in there?” Well, it was a long time ago and those of us travelling with the asker were calculating a number to present. We all gave our estimates then he said, “Nope, all of them.” I never forgot that moment. Seminal really.
I have used that joke ever since with more people than I care to add up in my tired, old head and have even caught a few. I caught my kids….once. But every time one or more of them has been in the car with me and some other people, I’d pop the question every time we passed a cemetery. My kids, or kid as it most often was the case, would groan. Most often the passenger knew the punch line….but every so often….
The lady friend I was speaking about earlier had grown tired of me telling the same old jokes when we were out with friends or new people. But the tiredest of them all was my cemetery joke. She even threatened to end it between us if I told it one more time. Didn’t stop me. But I was a little more discreet when she was around.
Well, one Easter weekend when she was away, training in Montreal for her air hostess (not PC I know) job, I brought along her mum and sister from Toronto to visit and see some of the city. When I was a Christian, I tended to be Protestant, but she was Roman Catholic so we went to Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Basilica for Easter mass. Afterwards, we thought we’d have a horse and buggy tour around Mount Royal (after which Montreal is named).
Along the way, we passed Mount Royal Cemetery which is predominantly Protestant, a fact I was only too happy to point out in my Presbyterian arrogance. I thought I’d be clever and ask our French Canadian driver/guide the question after he had pointed out the very large cemetery to us in his broken English. I told the ladies I was with what I was about to do. I was threatened with every sanction imaginable that if I dared ask….well.
So, I didn’t. I just sat back, folding my arms in disgust, defeated, gutted. Here was my chance to spring my greatest joke on an unsuspecting French Canadian. And I was robbed. As I stewed in my own misery, the driver/guide looked back at us and asked, with a smile on his face, “Hey, ‘ow many you tink are dead in dere?” I was too deflated to give the correct answer. ‘Let this play out’, I thought. “I don’t know”, I said, glowering at my female entourage, “How many?” He laughed a loud French Canadian laugh and said, “All of dem.”
I was going to leave my story there. I mean, where else do you go after that? But I thought I’d leave you instead with one of the jokes my mum often repeated. She left us just last April. I think she wouldn’t mind me offering this tidbit. Mum was a great singer and is responsible, I think, for having brought musical joy into many lives over the length of her own.
A man had been seeing two women and knew he had to make up his mind which to marry. One was extremely beautiful but that was her only asset. She had no talent and was not very bright. The other woman was ugly and terribly overweight (not PC I know but this is my mum’s joke), but could sing like a nightingale. He chose the one with the beautiful voice. “After all”, he reasoned, “Outer beauty fades, but talent goes on”. The morning after the wedding, the man woke up beside his bride, took one look at her and said, “For God’s sake….sing!” Thanks for that ma.