Yesterday, my husband and daughter were playing Monopoly while I was preparing the Father’s Day dinner. I make dinner every night, so it’s not a particularly stimulating event for me. I listened in on their conversation while I cooked the hamburgers, my husband’s idea of gourmet food.
When my husband landed on Reading Railroad, my daughter, the banker, asked if he wanted to buy it. It was early in the game and he was collecting all the properties he could so he said, “Sure!” My daughter took his money. As she handed over the little railroad card, my husband sang, “I’ll be reading on the railroad,” obviously to the tune of “I’ve been working on the railroad.” I groaned.
A few minutes later, my husband landed on the B&O Railroad, which he bought. As my daughter handed it over, he sang, “I’ll be smelly on the railroad.” This time I looked at him over my glasses with my “Really? You just said that?” face. He just grinned the goofy grin he always grins when he commits a crime of comedy.
I don’t think my husband was always humor-challenged. I can’t recall any particular funny thing he said or did, but I have a vague sense that he was once witty. No longer. Now, he is the Baron of the Bad Joke. In fact, at least at home, groan-inducing commentary has become his signature comedic style.
I do know exactly when my husband went from humorous to humor-less. The moment our son was laid in his arms, my husband’s funny bone broke. He started his slide into a life of comic crime by supplying lyrics to well-known arias related to whatever dad duty he was performing. Most notable of his alternative opera was the diaper-changing aria, sung to the tune of that “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro” song. The words described the contents of said diaper, like this: “Poop-a-la, peep-a-la, poop-a-la, peep-a-la,” repeated until the task was complete.
My husband is not the only man to be so affected by fatherhood. In fact, I have a theory that has been born out again and again. I am convinced that no man becomes a parent without also becoming a purveyor of the dreaded Dad Joke.
Recently, my son’s guitar teacher became a dad. Before his transformation, he was a pretty cool guy. Heck, he’s a guitar teacher. Of course he was cool. Evidence of his turn to the Dad side was revealed at the first lesson following birth of his daughter. I think my son had been working on a difficult passage the week prior. On seeing his teacher, he jokingly said, “I hate you!” His teacher’s response? “Why do you dislike female sheep?” Groan if you will. It’s completely warranted.
Though my siblings and I long ago moved out of his house, my own dad is still pouring on the crummy quips. I’ve written before about his “I know God’s name” joke. For those of you who don’t recall, God’s name is Harold, as in “Harold be thy name.”
I let my dad’s Dad jokes slide, but my husband is ridiculed mercilessly, especially by me and my son. In fact, we are much more amused by our insistence that Dad has no sense of humor than we ever are by his attempts at humor. See for yourself if you don’t agree. Recently, I purchased TurboCAD to assist me in producing landscape designs. I left the box on the dining room table until I had time to install it on my computer. Now, of course, I know I should not have left the box on the dining room table where it didn’t belong but there you are. My husband, seeing the box, said, “TurboCAD? Is that a man who is really bad to women?” Or, try this. I was slicing up some cantaloupe. My husband walked by singing, “Come to me, my melon-choly baby.” Or, this. I made some pastries. I asked my daughter, “Would you like a turnover?” She said she wouldn’t. My husband said, “Well, how about a new leaf?”
“Dad, you’re not funny,” has become the family joke. My son insists that my husband is funny outside of our home, though. The two of them visited my sister-in-law not too long ago. On their return, my son reported that his father had actually had his sister, her daughter and my son in stitches with some shtick involving our cat and his many misdeeds. My husband repeated the performance for me. I didn’t think it was funny. My son didn’t think it was funny. My daughter didn’t think it was funny. Even my husband admitted it wasn’t funny. I guess you had to be there.
I’m pretty sure what’s happening at our house is that the kids are outgrowing Dad jokes faster than my husband can give them up. Saying, “Didn’t you have enough s’mores?” after a child has repeatedly asked for some more of something is a gut-buster when you’re six years old. At fifteen, such a comment is most likely to send the kid scrambling for Mom’s blog fodder note pad.
Dad jokes are definitely intended for a general audience. My dad soothed more than one tiny soul with a well-timed ridiculous comment. I have very fond memories of being scolded. Actually, my fond memories are mostly of what happened after the scolding. I would run to my room screaming how much I hated my parents and how unfair they were for scolding me. I slammed and locked the door, intent on never again looking upon the face of anyone vaguely related to either of my parents, excepting me, of course. After a while, there would be a soft knock at my door. My dad would call my name. I would ignore him. He would call my name again. I would ignore him again. He’d ask me to open the door. I would ignore him yet again. Then, he’d start with the jokes. My resolve would slowly dissolve. Eventually, I would open the door, my dad would pick me up and I’d decide he wasn’t so bad after all.
My son is fifteen and he is probably the funniest person I know. He can have his father and I laughing so hard it hurts. I would repeat some of his more hilarious humor, but most of it is incredibly tasteless. In fact, some of it would make Bob Saget blush. There is some evidence, though, that he, too, will fall into the Dad joke pit when his time has come. Recently, I made a joke that missed the mark. My son started singing, “FAIL-ga-ro! Fail-ga-ro! Fail-ga-ro! Fail-ga-ro!”
© Copyright 2011 by Janice Lindegard. All rights reserved.