I trust that everyone got enough to eat at Thanksgiving dinner yesterday? We certainly did. Of course, there are some of you who live in a place where Thanksgiving is not a holiday. And believe me, I am quite sorry about that.
In these days of a society fractured over matters of faith and politics, most holidays have become a minefield. But not Thanksgiving. It is a holiday for everyone. Religious folks can be thankful for heavenly blessings while the most anti-religious among us can at least be thankful that enough people have decent jobs to be able to afford to make a good meal. Any holiday whose twin centerpieces are food and football, well it’s hard to find fault.
As you read this, I am probably back at work hard at an appellate brief that is due in a few days. I hate deadlines near holidays. Some of you are probably at work as well. Others are engaging in that modern ritual of “Black Friday” which involves retail establishments strategically cutting prices on some popular items and presiding over something that looks like the Running Of The Bulls in Pamplona. But without the bulls. Although some of those shoppers . . . .
So what is this about leftover elephant? In doing some straightening around the house in preparation for Thanksgiving guests, someone handed me an old paperback book which had found itself into the boys’ old bedroom. I smiled right away, because I remember this book quite well.
Who remembers the Scholastic Book Sales in grade school? This was the event in which a publisher of kids books got to set up a high pressure boiler room operation in our elementary school. “Here kids, look at all these great books! Now all you have to do is go home and get your parents to buy as many of them as you can! Fill out this sheet, then go home and Sell Sell Sell!”
I exaggerate of course, but I was a reader, and this is sort of the way it worked with me. I think I was in maybe 3rd grade when Elephant Jokes were a thing. Those of you over, say, fifty five remember this. Those of you under that age are no doubt wondering about the sanity of your elders. I guess you just had to be there. Anyhow, 101 Elephant Jokes was on my “Must Have” list that year, and my sales routine did the trick.
It is funny how many of the jokes in this book I still remember. “How do you kill a blue elephant?” “With a blue shotgun.” “How do you kill a pink elephant?” “Hold its trunk until it turns blue, then kill it with a blue shotgun.” It’s true – we kids in the late ’60s were tough little things, callously laughing at the death of elephants. I don’t think this sort of thing would play today.
And then there was “How do you stop an elephant from charging?” “Take away its credit cards.”
“How do you make an elephant float?” “Two scoops of ice cream, some root beer and an elephant.”
Yes, these are completely stupid. But I still find them funny nonetheless. Don’t ask me why. It is either because there is something wrong with me, or because these are from a time when it was OK to laugh at something stupid without having earnest people wearing ironic t-shirts lecturing us about our choices of words or the implications of our meaningless jokes. Sometimes a stupid joke is just a stupid joke.
Like my favorite: “How do you catch an elephant?” “You need binoculars, tweezers and a milk bottle [remember those?]. First, make a noise like a peanut. Then look at the elephant through the big end of the binoculars. Finally, pick up the teeny elephant with the tweezers and drop him in the milk bottle.”
And now you know.