Because my father would make the same bad jokes over and over and over I am cautious of it. Working at this library desk as the decades pass by with their weird combination of lumbering, interminable plodding and terrifying speed, I try to keep things fresh. I try to reinvent my jokes, retire them, and seek out new ones. But there are some groaning jokes I'm very fond of and I will, perhaps with an irresistible genetic pull, trot them out every few months or years to see how they're doing.
Maybe I'm just waiting for that one perfect delivery, or for one unreasonably good laugh as a response.
Today I took out one of these ol' chestnuts and it all happened very much according to this plan. Usually with these kinds of jokes I get looks of mild confusion or, at best, weak smiles. Who knows how uncountably many times I've tossed off this very slight joke to mild response, but it can't be often, if ever, that I've received, as I did today, a full, surprised, belly laugh.
Yes, I will tell you the joke.
Don't expect much.
This laugh today was my joke punching way above its weight.
Here's how the joke works:
Sometimes when I'm registering a library card for someone there are a lot of things to hand back to the library patron at the end of the business. In today's case I was registering a new card for a man's daughter, and so was handing out the new library card, an "I got my library card" sticker, a guide to the library, and I was returning the man's driver's license.
It starts with a series of mildly explanatory comments and sort of tumbles along from there:
"Here is your new library card. You can check out anything you'd like with this today." I say handing over the new card. "This is a sticker celebrating your getting a new library card. You can stick it to things." I say handing over a sticker with a reading fox on it. They exclaim over this. "Here is a guide to our library system. It has all our hours and locations and policies." I hand over the guide. "And this," I say, handing over the driver's license, "You will need to operate a motor vehicle."
"That's it?" You ask.
"Yes." I reply.
I know it's not much, but I know one guy who thought it was hilarious.