She loves jokes. She just doesn’t get the delivery.
“Okay, okay,” I say. “You’re going to have to practice. Let me tell you a joke that will CRACK PEOPLE UP. My mother used to laugh every single time. It was the best joke.” (Really it is the only one I can remember at the moment).
Her blue eyes shine. She bounces. “Tell me!”
“First I have a question: Do you know what unique means?”
She looks puzzled. “I don’t think so.”
“It means one of a kind, a thing that is different from anything else in the world.”
“Oh, like very special.”
“Yes! Exactly! Unique means very special and not like anything else. So are you ready for this joke?”
She nods. “Ready!”
“Here goes… How do you catch a unique animal?”
She pretends to think, hand on chin. “I don’t know!”
“You neek up on it. Get it?”
She looks blank.
“Like, you sneak up on it but instead of ‘sneak’ you say ‘neek’: You neek up on it…”
“Ohh, you take off the ‘s’ and… neek!” She dissolves in giggles.
We practice this over and over:
How do you catch a unique animal?
You neek up on it!
She belly laughs, every time.
When my son and his wife come to collect her, she runs to them with glee:
“Franna taught me a joke!”
“Great,” says my son, with absolutely NO enthusiasm. “She likes jokes, Mom; she doesn’t get how to tell them…”
“Ahem,” I warn. “She’s been working hard on this.”
I am sure I detect a tiny sigh, but my son says: “Okay, let’s hear it.”
“How do you catch a unique animal?” She can barely contain herself. Wait for it, wait for it…
Her parents look at each other and shrug.
“We don’t know. How do you catch a unique animal?” asks her mom.
“YOU NEEK UP ON IT!”
They crack up, and the look on her face…priceless.
Little unique creature. You neek up on my heart, over and over and over again.
Kinda like that joke.
My son says: “She just keeps telling it over and over, Mom. We’ve heard it a million times. It was funny like the first two times, but…”
“It’s her joke. Let her enjoy it.”
She’s a masterpiece in the making, see. At age five, she’s read Charlotte’s Web. Independently, with some questions about how to pronounce some words…I wondered how much she understood, really, but then my daughter-in-law tells this story: They were baking the other day and my unique animal was rolling out her dough with extreme care.
“Oh, you’re doing a nice job,” said my daughter-in-law.
“Thank you,” said my granddaughter, sprinkling flour. “It’s my magnum opus.”
“Magnum opus. It means ‘great work’.” And she patted away at the dough.
Great work…like mastery of that joke.
Dear, dear Charlotte… messages from one unique animal to another… magnum opus, indeed.
A unique moment with my unique granddaughter. We went to see the waterfall at the park. She’s holding my husband’s walking stick and wearing my “fancy” watch on her left arm, plus one of my sunhats. We pulled our masks away for the photo.
The annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers is underway, meaning that I am posting every day in the month of March. This marks my fifth consecutive year and I’m experimenting with an abecedarian approach: On Day 21, I am writing around a word beginning with letter u.