A Little Vacation

The Joke

Clyde is a shy fellow who, at the age of 25, still lives at home in New York City with his mother, his younger brother, and, most beloved of all, his cat, named Kitty-cat. He has never been away for more than a night, partly because he loved Kitty-cat so much. But one day he is awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and after much gnashing of teeth over what to do, decides to go. After all, he can at least phone home every night. Besides, his little brother tells him to write down instructions for taking care of Kitty-cat and promises do be very, very diligent in the cat’s care.

So Clyde flies to London and when he reaches the hotel immediately phones home. He says: "It’s me. How’s my Kitty-cat?" And younger brother blurts out: "Kitty-cat is dead!"

Clyde hangs up the phone and goes almost comatose from grief. Finally, after a couple days, he’s composed enough to phone home again and to teach his brother how to handle situations like this.

So he tells his younger brother this: "You should not have just told me outright. You should have stretched it out over several days like this. The first night you could have told me that "Kitty-cat is up on the roof, but the fire department is here and we’ll get him down!" Then the next night you could have told me "We got Kitty-cat down but he has a broken leg. The Vet is taking care of him and he’s sleeping without pain." Then the third night you could have told me "Kitty-cat died gently in his sleep."

His little brother apologizes and apologizes and once Clyde finally thinks he’s gotten through, he asks him "So, how’s mother?"

To which the little brother responds: "Ahhh, . . . mother’s up on the roof . . . ."

The Context

Did I mention that we Babcocks like a little bit of black humor? My father, Frank, tells the story of a friend in college who was visiting some relatives on a farm during a vacation. At the dinner table they were recounting the death of a neighbor who had been in the process of helping to slaughter a pig. In this instance, the guy was down in the pig pen trying to force the pig into a chute; at the end of the chute stood his son with a sledge hammer to be used to whack the pig as he came up.

Well, he couldn’t get that pig to cooperate so he stuck his head up the chute to tell his son to forget about it. Yup. Whack!"

Apparently Frank’s friend got to laughing so hard he had to leave the table. We Babcocks could sympathize. It is the sort of faux pas that could happen to us! Mother’s on the roof!!!

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Copyright © 2003 Michael Babcock