Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oldster McPottymouth

A man who looked to be in his late 60s/early 70s came up to me and Meelyn and my friend Michelle today while we were talking to a docent at Conner Prairie's Zimmerman House and told us that he and his wife had driven to Indiana from Missouri by way of Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

"My, that was quite a journey," said the docent playing the part of "Bea Zimmerman."

"Yes, it was," he said. "We listened to the radio while we were driving and I heard this joke. It should be okay to tell, because it was on the radio." He winked at us conspiratorially.

Now, look. I'm not a real quick thinker. I should have known, being aware of Howard Stern and Opie & Anthony, that just because you hear a joke on the radio, that doesn't mean it is okay to tell. It might be un-okay enough to get your butt fired. But I stood there like a lump of mashed turnip and let him start telling.

"There were two girl friends," he started out. "They'd been friends for a long time, back when they were just kindergarteners. And one day, one friend said to the other, 'Can I ask you a personal question?'

"'Why, of course you can,' said the other friend. 'You know we've never kept secrets from each other. Remember when we were teenagers and we used to go out on dates and afterwards we'd tell each other what we did to the boys and what the boys did to us?'"

Don't you think that I would have sensed that this joke was headed in an uncouth direction? I should have immediately re-classified that conspiratorial wink as "lecherous" and walked out, but I blame my mother, who taught me to be unfailingly polite to my elders, although I think even she would draw the line at dirty old men.

"'We don't have to keep secrets just because we're both married,' the other friend said," the senior citizen continued. "'Oh, good,' said the first friend. 'So, do you and your husband have mutual orgasms?'"

At this point, my eyes were out on stalks and I grabbed Meelyn, who was standing directly in front of the man, by the wrist and said, "Come on, HONEY! Let's go look at the WASH HOUSE!"

I hurried her out of the house, wishing it were socially permissible to kick old men in the shins. I mean, I am no prude. I have a ribald sense of humor that still gets me in trouble with my mother, who is the type of person who thinks that the f-word is "fart." I occasionally refer affectionately to Lilly, Carol, Susie and myself as rotten whores. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and it appears that my line is drawn right in front of older men who come up to me and my 14-year-old and start telling off-color jokes.

Is there a time when this could be considered an appropriate thing to do? It would be kind of like me saying to my religious education class, "I have a little poem to teach you and it goes like this: There once was a girl from Nantucket..."

The punch line of his joke, by the way, had something to do with Mutual of Omaha.

Meelyn, bless her sweet heart, has no idea what an orgasm is.

My mother probably just fell right off her chair.