The World's Unfunniest Joke

I'm in meetings all day, about an hour from where I usually work. On the way back to where I live, I stop at Costco. I should say here that I love Costco. The owner's a leftist, he pays his employees comparatively well, and they've got the biggest-ass jars of mayo that I've ever seen. They also carry the newest CDs, and that was why I had stopped in, to pick up the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers CD.

I also love the Peppers. Seriously, when did Anthony Kiedis learn how to sing? Since Californication, they've just become great. The whole time that I was in Madcity, I only ever played Californication in my ride, you know, for protection from the motherland. Since the people with whom I hung partook of the booze now and again and I'm one of those people who doesnn't drink, I was usually the designated driver, and I'm pretty sure that they were sick of listening to that particular CD by the end of the academic year and were glad to see me go.

I didn't just pick up the Peppers CD, though; it's kind of hard to get out of Costco without dropping a chunk of money. My theory is that you just never know when you're going to need four surge protectors, so it's probably best to just play it safe.

Here's the part where I told the world's unfunniest joke. The woman in front of me is getting ready to pay, and the checkout dude asks her if she wants to make a donation to the local children's hospital. I instantly get an idea for a joke for when it's my turn to be asked the donation question.

The checkout dude starts scanning my stuff and he asks his question. That was when, completely deadpan, I said, "I care not at all about children."

The guy who was loading my stuff back into my cart stopped loading my stuff back into my cart. The checkout dude who was scanning my stuff stopped scanning my stuff. The woman who was in line behind me completely stopped moving. It was as if the world had ground to a halt, and it was all because of my sad little joke.

I thought that the checkout guy was going to die of laughter, and that the cart loader was also probably in some mortal danger as well, but I could not have been more wrong.

In retrospect, I probably deadpanned the delivery a little too much, but I hate it when comics chicken out and deliver their most cutting bits with a wink in order to take the sting out of it. I can look a little thugged out if I try, but I didn't even try to thug up. I had delivered it straight, matter-of-fact.

If I had been braver, I would have let my little joke hang in the air until I left. At least my stunned audience would have had a nice little story to tell, the one about the cold-blooded, child-hating Mexican. But I don't want people to dislike me, not even strangers (it's probably enough already that I dislike myself), so I said that I had been joking.

That was when they laughed. But the lady killed the good feeling in my heart by saying that she taught second grade, which I guess was supposed to be shorthand for why she hadn't laughed, because, as a teacher, she must obviously love children.

I took an instant dislike to this person because I can't stand sanctimonious/self-righteous/simple-minded people. Listen, I know plenty of teachers, and it's pretty clear to me that not all of them actually even like children. In fact, it's safe to say that some of them probably hate children, and, really, who can blame them?

No, I'm joking again. Lighten up.