The missing joke

by Steve Brock on June 16, 2011

Now if only he was raising his front foot, it would be far funnier...

For those of you who attended my presentation on The Power of Place at Kiros, I mentioned that I left a joke out of the talk.

The joke was to illustrate the point that while we’re on our trip is usually not the best time to complete creative projects. Instead, travel is where we gather the sparks of ideas, the raw material that we collect for later synthesis and application. You can read more about this notion here.

I thought I’d lighten up an otherwise fairly serious presentation with the following joke. But when I did a run-through for timing purposes at home before my wife, she informed me that:

  1. She’d already heard the joke. From her mom. Who doesn’t tell jokes. So that alone should clue me in about the possible quality of it.
  2. She saw minimal connection between the joke and the message.
  3. If I had any desire to preserve even a trace of dignity and self-respect, I might be wise to leave it out. She can be quite incisive and diplomatic at the same time, my wife.

You judge for yourself:

“A man was driving along the highway, and saw a rabbit hopping across the middle of the road. He swerved to avoid hitting the rabbit, but unfortunately the rabbit jumped in front of the car and was hit. The driver, being a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulled over to the side of the road and got out to see what had become of the rabbit. Much to his dismay, the rabbit was dead. The driver felt so awful he began to cry.

A woman driving down the highway saw the man crying on the side of the road and pulled over. She stepped out of her car and asked the man what was wrong.

“I feel terrible,” he explained. “I accidentally hit this rabbit and killed it.”

The woman told the man not to worry. She knew what to do. She went to her car trunk and pulled out a spray can. She walked over to the limp, dead rabbit, and sprayed the contents of the can onto the rabbit. Miraculously, the rabbit came to life, jumped up, waved its paw at the two humans and hopped down the road. 50 feet away the rabbit stopped, turned around, waved at the two again, hopped down the road another 50 feet, turned, waved, and hopped another 50 feet. The man was astonished. He couldn’t figure out what substance could be in the woman’s spray can! He ran over to the woman and demanded, “What was in your spray can? What did you spray onto that rabbit?” The woman turned the can around so that the man could read the label. It said:

’Hare Spray. Restores Life to Dead Hare. Adds Permanent Wave.’”

             (Source: http://www.ahajokes.com/tra04.html )

Huh? What do you think? I was going to conclude that this guy went home with plenty of ideas for new product innovations.

Should I have left it in?

In reality, it doesn’t really matter. Here’s why.

I’ve been thinking about this joke. What sets it apart from being pure “pun-ishment” are the final three words. So I’ve considered going out, buying a lucky rabbit’s foot and bringing it home. I would then wait for a quiet moment with my wife, raise the rabbit’s foot, and then give it a little wave, sort of like William and Kate’s at the Royal Wedding and say rather sheepishly, “…Adds Permanent Wave.”

At that point, my wife would probably do one of the following: 

  • There’s a 7% likelihood she would shake her head in sadness and walk away, dropping the subject.
  • There’s a 14% likelihood she would ask incredulously where and why I have a rabbit’s foot and completely miss the connection to the joke.
  • There’s a 9% likelihood she would just change subject and tell me to go take out the trash or go re-landscape the entire backyard.
  • There’s a 70% likelihood she would pause, stare at me for about three seconds, then laugh and walk over and give me a hug and mention how goofy I am and we would both know why we married each other.

This is a perfect example of the Power of Place: I had to give a presentation in another city not far from home in order for me to realize the amazing value of what I have at home.

Every day.

Even on bad hare days.

Maybe my wife was right.

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