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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The punchline that had no joke (Barry Gibb is not jealous)

  I had some friends that I had been cliqueing with since high school and at one point two of us were working a construction job together. Sometime in the Summer of 1988, Frizzle (name changed for pretty good reasons) and I worked one particular job, a new patio deck and some remodel work inside. The owner of the house was an Italian-American guy with a lot of money (lays finger along side of nose). The wife and kiddies were never there and briefcase-and-shiny-suit guy was amiable enough when he would sidle through on his way in or out; but he had a Mother-in-law, (or Grandmother or something), that didn't speak any English and hung around watching us all the time.

   On one sunshiny day Olda Cronia was watching as we did nothing for about two hours while we waited for our boss to bring back more lumber for the deck. Apparently Olda Cronia was unfamiliar with the concept of contracted work, she was very agitated that we were there not doing anything; I believe she thought we were on her clock slacking off. Of course, we were being paid by the hour, but our idle time was hurting our boss, not his client. Nevertheless, she eventually meandered out near where we were and started speaking gibberish * and motioning for us. We walked over to her and listened as she waved her arms about and said things we didn't understand. She became increasingly exasperated at us for deliberately not learning any Italian as she harangued us on the topic of ... like I said, I think it was loafing on her dime, I will never know for sure. I started nodding to her, thinking she might shut up and go away if she thought we were agreeing with her -- but that made her get louder. I probably agreed to do something and then didn't do it, I sympathize with her vexing situation.

   Eventually she summed up, (I concluded from the context of her sweeping arm gestures that she was nearing the end of her rhetoric), so I nodded most agreeably and said "Yes, yes, penis fluid"; with my most agreeable smile and continued nodding. Agreeably. Frizzle, of course, cracked up, causing Olda to storm off with steam blasting out of her ears, (not literally). Being a friend of mine he had been chosen for his skill/sense of humor in finding me hilarious, but it was a pretty funny moment I must say so my damn self. I could have said anything, she had made it very clear she didn't understand a single word of English; 'yes, yes, penis fluid' just happened to be the funniest thing I could think of to say at the time.

  Forever after that day, the phrase joined well-worn movie and song quotes in our gang's lexicon. Anytime someone said something nonsensical, especially if they were very earnest, one of us would invariably start nodding his head, then the punchline "yes, yes, penis fluid." Followed by gales of laughter and a look of consternation from the nonsensical babbler.

* I say 'gibberish' not as a gibe towards the fine language of Italian, but as a commentary on someone continuing to blather to a person they know does not understand.


At 2:57 AM, Blogger Napoleon Park said...

Quite possibly ythe best anecdote ever written by someone other than Dave Barry or Garrison Keillor. And I loved the illustrations that gave us an option as to _which_ penis fluid.


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