Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Strokes & Jokes
And the November 2004 Edition of the Teresa Heinz Kerry Award for Most Embarrassing Misunderstanding, goes to... me!

SCENE: Elevator lobby at my day job, 6:30 p.m. My boss is discussing her schedule for the coming week and her plans to visit her father, who’s recovering from medical problems.

"So I’m going to see my dad for a few days, then I’ll be back Friday—he had another fall, unfortunately."

"Hm," I respond, nodding sympathetically.

"But I’ll also get to see my nephew," she continued. "He plays trumpet now, actually. I guess he’s getting pretty good." This is a refreshing change of topic; she's been to one of my performances and knows I play the trumpet.

"Ah!" I pipe in cheerfully, as the elevator door opens and I start to step inside. "Well, tell him to watch out for the brain damage!" I say, recycling an old trumpet player joke.

Her face falls, and she says sadly, "Yes, well that’s always a danger for stroke victims. I keep telling him to be careful."

I stand for a moment in shocked silence, then as I realize the misunderstanding quickly say, "Ohhhh, no! I was talking about your nephew! With the trumpet playing. Just trumpet player humor. Sorry."

"Ah... right," she says, raising an eyebrow somewhat skeptically.

As the elevator doors are closing between us, and I see her perplexed face disappearing between them, I hurriedly add, "You know, we joke about trumpet playing causing brain damage. Just a j-" And the doors close. I'd like to think she won't perpetually think of me as the guy who joked about her sick father avoiding brain damage.