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Friday, October 15, 2010

That's Some Funny, Sir

I often fall into the trap that lots of people my age find themselves in, or never realize that they're in to begin with, and that's the trap of fooling myself into thinking -- no, knowing -- that I'm experienced: broad-minded and worldly.

And then, every so often, I realize that I'm just another sheltered, Jewish mama's boy from the suburbs. With post-nasal drip, of course.

Yesterday at the psychiatric hospital that, for eight hours a day is my home, I had the opportunity to experience a first. I have experienced many firsts at my current job-- and I've only been there exactly one month. I have seen male masturbation, and I would say that I've seen more than my fair share of said activity. I have also seen people wander around hallways naked; I have seen patients and staff members get attacked and have intervened physically to restrain patients. I have held patients down while they have received medicine to calm them down, and I have applied full leather restraints to patients to tie them to beds after they have been assaultive.

I've seen some cray-cray shit, and it's really just the beginning-- the very humble beginning. And that's just the shit that I've seen. The shit that I've heard? Forget about it.

But yesterday I had the unusual experience of sitting in a chair, beside an elderly, black, female patient. She was in a wheelchair, covered up to her chin with a blanket, with a Phillies hat on her head, at a jaunty, 1940's angle. She's missing around seven teeth on the bottom row-- she lost two just a couple weeks ago at the hospital. I saw one of them in a Zip-Loc baggie in the nurse's station. It looked archeological.

"I don't know why they didn't just nail that shit back in there, sir," said Gladys (not her real name-- fuckin' duh) "the roots was good. The top was good."

"I don't know, Gladys," I replied, "that tooth of yours that I saw looked like a twenty year old Rice Krispie."

Gladys cracked up. She loves messing around, and I love it, too. She'll look at you out of the corner of her eye after a jest, to check you out-- to make sure you're on the level, and then the corners of her mouth will turn up and she'll start laughing. And it's good medicine.

"You're a funny motherfucker, sir," she said to me, giggling. I said thank you. Gladys has known me for a month now, and she knows my name, but she insists on calling me "Sir." I've stopped asking her to stop. "I got some jokes for you, sir," Gladys said, scratching one of the cornrows under her Phillies hat. "You wanna hear some of my jokes?"

"Definitely," I said, putting my clipboard down on the floor. "Wait-- are they clean?"

She looked at me.

"Fuck, no."

"Excellent," I said, folding my arms and adjusting in my chair, "let's hear it."

"Okay," Gladys said, "first one goes like this: See, there's this black man and he's on the train, you know? And he's sittin' there, just sittin' there on the train, sir, and he's got this big ol' roach on his shoulder, sir-- just sittin' there on his shoulder, on the train, see? And the steward, he comes walkin' down the aisle checkin' all the tickets, and he sees this roach, and he brushes it off the black man's shoulder, and the black man says, 'Shit, mothafucka, leave that roach alone. Man! Everythin' a black man has, people be tryin' to take away from him.'" I let out a laugh and Gladys checked me out, cracked a grin, and she started laughing, too.

"You like that, sir?" she asked.

"I do," I said, nodding.

"That's some funny shit, sir."

"Yeah-- it is."

"I got another one, sir."

"Proceed," I said.

"So, there's a Chinese man, a white man, and a black man, and they's all sittin' down at a bar gettin' drunk-- they havin' a good time, sir. And in walks Jesus Christ. He comin' on down to the bar to have a few, you know. And the Chinese guy, he says, 'Oh, shit! That Jesus,' and he walk up to Jesus and he say, 'Jesus, I got leprosy, I'll buy you a drink if you pray for me and take away my leprosy,' you know. And Jesus touch him and you know his leprosy got cured.

And the white man, he say, 'Jesus, I got these migraine headaches-- bad. Can you touch me and take away my migraine headaches?' (I guess the white guy didn't offer to buy J. C. a drink.) And Jesus said, 'Fuck, yeah,' and he touches this white dude and take away his headaches.

And then Jesus walks up to the black dude, he on crutches, see-- and Jesus start to reach out to the black dude, and the black dude he say, "Motherfucker, I'll buy you a drink, but don't be fuckin' touchin' me-- I'll lose my disability check."

And, as I laughed, and as Gladys laughed, after checking me out first, of course, I laughed with the selfconscious uneasiness of a suburban, Jewish mama's boy (with post-nasal drip, of course) who had never before heard, live and in person, a black person tell a "black people" joke.

While calling me "sir."

1 comment:

  1. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... old people are seriously the coolest people on this earth. They have stories, jokes, and wisdom, and absolutely 0 filter between their mind and mouth. They truly don't give a fuck what you think, because damnit, they're old and want to say their piece before they go. :-P


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