Our family has just returned from Iowa and Wisconsin, where we attended a couple of family reunions.
I don’t know what your family does at reunions, but one of the things we do is tell funny stories, most of them only remotely related to reality.
At our Iowa get-together, my cousin Dave and I somehow started talking about the late comedian Rodney “I don’t get no respect” Dangerfield and trying to remember some of his jokes.
I recalled this one: “I don’t get no respect from anybody. I met the surgeon general. He offered me a cigarette.”
Dave’s contribution: “My psychiatrist examined me. He said, ‘You’re crazy.’ I said, ‘I want a second opinion.’ He said, ‘OK, you’re ugly too.’ ” Some more Dangerfield dandies:
• When I was born, the doctor came out to the waiting room and said to my father, “I’m very sorry. We did everything we could ... but he pulled through.”
• I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.
• My father carried around the picture of the kid that came with his wallet.
• I asked my mother if I could go ice-skating on the lake. She told me, “Wait ’til it gets warmer.”
• Once when I was lost I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, “Do you think we’ll ever find them?” He said, “I don’t know, kid. There are so many places they can hide.”
• I came from a real tough neighborhood. On my street, the kids take hubcaps — from moving cars.
• My wife and I were happy for 20 years. Then we met.
• A girl phoned me and said, “Come on over. There’s nobody home.” I went over. Nobody was home!
• Some dog I got, too. We call him Egypt because he leaves pyramids in every room.
In Wisconsin, cousin Howard told one of the funniest stories I’ve heard in awhile. And he claimed it was true: A devoted young man arrived at a nursing home to take his elderly Uncle Otis out to lunch to celebrate the older man’s 95th birthday.
As they left the old man’s room, the two encountered Asa, another resident of the home.
“Asa,” Uncle Otis said to his friend in a booming voice, “do you know how old I am today?”
“I don’t, Otis,” Asa replied. “How old?”
“I’m NINETY-FIVE,” Uncle Otis stated proudly, and loudly.
“Wonderful, Otis!” Asa said. “I should live so long. Congratulations!”
Otis and his nephew made their way a little farther down the hall where they met Evan, who worked on the nursing home staff.
“Evan,” Uncle Otis yelled to the young staffer, “do you know how old I am today?”
“How old, Otis?” Evan answered.
“I’m NINETY-FIVE,” Otis bellowed.
“That’s great, sir,” Evan responded, “Happy birthday.”
As they entered the living room of the nursing home, the pair saw Edna, another resident, sitting on a couch, apparently asleep.
As they approached, Otis’ nephew tried to walk between Otis and Edna to keep his uncle from disturbing the woman. But Otis managed to move toward the couch and position himself in front of the lady.
“Edna,” Otis shouted, “do you know how old I am today?”
As Edna’s eyes slowly opened, she leaned forward, unzipped Otis’ trousers, reached in, grabbed what was in there, pulled it out and examined it carefully before proclaiming, “Otis, you’re NINETY- FIVE.”
Uncle Otis was astounded.
“Edna,” he stammered, “do you mean you can tell how old I am by looking at THAT?”
“Of course not, you old fool,” Edna retorted. “ I heard you tell Asa and Evan!”
Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman says family reunions are when relatives gather from all over to be reminded why they scattered in the first place.
That doesn’t apply to our family. We just like to laugh.