Biff America: Simple pleasures and good humor (column)
January 16, 2016
A husband and wife are at a nightclub where they see a buffed guy on the dance floor doing splits, flips and moonwalking. The wife says, 'That man asked me to marry him 25 years ago and I turned him down for you.' To which her husband replied, 'it looks like he is still celebrating.'
"Jerry's Jokes," page 86
Life is not fair. Some of us were born healthy, in a first world country with a working mind and disease free body. Many others come into the world less lucky. Some of us are born with the capacity and perspective to be happy and some have anger and bitterness as our go to emotions. Perhaps the greatest blessing is to be born with the gift of loving to laugh. Jerry Nordling had that gift.
"Jerry's Jokes" is a book with close to 100 pages of anecdotes that, over the span of 15 years, Jerry e-mailed to his son Keith. None were original but rather humor that Keith's Dad had come across on the internet. After Jerry died Keith compiled them in a hard-copy book, complete with photos, and mailed them to friends and family.
As all can tell this is not highbrow humor, but rather a collection of a man who loved to laugh.
"After dating for several years an elderly, widowed, couple decided it might be time to marry. They were discussing their finances, in whose home they would live and the reaction of their children. The lady asks the gentleman if he is still has an interest in love-making and he says 'infrequently.' She asks, 'Is that one word or two?'" ("Jerry's Jokes," page 57.)
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Jerry was born with skilled hands and manual dexterity. He was a gifted woodworker and fabricator but most of all he loved to laugh and make others do so. He was a member of the local Masonic lodge which every year hosted a Bavarian night featuring 'King Ludwig and his 5 piece Om-Pa band.' When the band wanted another round of beer they played a song call 'More Bier' and one of the volunteer waiters would run to the stage with a tray of 5 steins.
Unbeknownst to anyone Jerry had fashioned a tray with 5 steins bolted on top and a strap on the bottom which his hand could slip through. After about 5 or 6 renditions of 'More Bier' it was Jerry's turn to serve the band. He filled the steins half full, slipped his hand in the strap and headed out through the crowd towards the bandstand.
This was the Masonic Lodge's one fancy night of the year and all the attendees were wearing the finest clothing. Jerry weaved through the crowd, pretending to be drunk, holding the tray over his head and the heads of all his fellow Masons and wives seated at their tables scaring the heck out of all. There is a photo on the cover of "Jerry's Jokes" of him running through the crowd, tray in hand, with a maniacal look on his face.
"A wife hinted to her husband that she wanted a sports car for Christmas by saying 'I want something shiny that goes from 0-160 in 3 seconds.' So he gave her a bathroom scale." ("Jerry's Jokes," page 44)
Jerry had a lifelong friend named Gene Johnson. During the last 10 years of his life Jerry would send Gene a Christmas letter from a fictitious couple named Don and Orleen who supposedly went to high school with him 60 years ago. Included in the card was just enough information and reference to mutual friends to keep Gene guessing. Jerry created an entire life, job location and family for Don and Orleen which he would refer to year after year. He enlisted Keith's brother Andrew to mail the cards from various locations which conformed Don and Orleens nomadic, made-up life. The only other person in on the joke was Gene's son Ken who would report back to Jerry Gene's frustration of not being able to remember who Don was. This went on for almost 10 years. Gene's daughter took out a subscription to ancestry.com and spent hours going through old year books and class photos trying to spark her Dad's memory.
When Jerry Nordling died last spring it fell on Gene's son, Ken to give his Dad the bad news. After having done so he finally told him the truth of Jerry's ongoing practical joke. Gene laughed and cried at the same time. I'm sure that made Jerry's day………
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff's new book "Mind, Body, Soul." is available at local shops and bookstores and at BackcountryMagazine.com/Store
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