Sunday, May 3, 2009
So I'm here to amuse you?
There’s nothing funnier than an inside joke, is there? When I was 22 or so, I worked in little clothing shop in Philadelphia. It was just the manager, me, and one other girl. The shop was owned by a man who owned six or seven little businesses…two restaurants, another shop at the beach, a couple of electronics stores. He was manic and hyperenergetic, as you might expect. Most of the time, he left each business in the hands of its respective manager, and he went about his own business (he was also involved in real estate). Every so often, though, he’d decide to get involved in details. He’d stop by the store every day for a few days, suggesting display ideas, chatting with customers, organizing the stockroom…sometimes, he’d stop by early in the morning, and leave notes for us. One morning, I came to work at 9:45 to help Ruth, the manager, open the store. She was laughing her head off as she read Frank’s latest note, and I cracked up too when she handed it over to me. Among other to-do items was to get the VAACUM ready for the repair shop to pick up. We thought it was hilarious, and for the same reason. “He knew there was SOMETHING weird about that word”, Ruth giggled. It was an inside running joke for the rest of the time that I worked there. Sometimes, we’d crack each other up just by making vacuuming gestures. Other times, one of us would look at the floor and say “it’s filthy in here. We need to vaaaaaaacum”. This was the best kind of inside joke; that is to say, it was at someone else’s expense.
“BUSTED” is an inside joke in my family. Any time any of us messes up and is called on it, any other member of the family can and will yell “BUSTED!” There are some rules. For example, one may be corrected on a misstatement or a factual error without being BUSTED. One might also be reminded of something forgotten. This does not count as a BUST. BUSTED is when you’re scolded, or when you’re caught red-handed doing something you should not be doing. Needless to say, the boys hate it when we yell “BUSTED” at them. Also needless to say, they LOVE the opportunity to yell “BUSTED” at either of us.
You might remember that I was a victim of modern technology a few months ago when I got a $40 speeding ticket via speed camera. The actual ticket arrived on the very same day that I backed into someone’s parked car in a parking lot. So this time, it’s not so bad. The ticket that showed up in my mailbox on Friday, with yet another stunningly clear photograph of my blue Civic sailing past yet another speed camera was unaccompanied by any other driving mishap. Just the ticket. I opened it, and left it on the kitchen counter with some other paperwork, and a few hours later, 7yo found it. “Whoa, Mom”, he said. “Another one? You must be in a hurry, right?” Yeah yeah yeah, kid. How sharper than a damn serpent’s tooth, as I’ve said many times before. But it got worse. My husband, who really didn’t need any more evidence in his ongoing case against my driving skills, hadn’t been in the door for 30 seconds when the stool pigeon fruit of my womb was waving my ticket in his face. “Ahpa, LOOK! Another one! Mom was speeding again!” Husband looked at the ticket. He looked at me. I looked back, with a “don’t say a word” look, which must not have conveyed the “don’t say a word” message very clearly. He looked at 7yo, and said “you know what Mommy is?”
In unison: “BUSSSSSTED!”
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Very funny. Laugh it up, fuzzballs. Eventually, I will see the humor in this. Meanwhile, it remains true that the inside joke is MUCH FUNNIER when it is at someone else’s expense.
(Yes, my husband and I did make the "BUSTED" sign out of Lego pieces. We might need to get out more often.)