There is an age old question which plagues mankind, one just as baffling as what is the meaning of life, which I can answer for you, life is a breakfast cereal known for its brown checkered squares and we all know that Mikey likes it, and that question is, what do we say to women when we meet them? I was never really adept at this, I had no pick-up lines, basically I would just wing it. Now there is something to be said for authenticity but I think it’s also important to make a real impression. If you’re at a bar you can go the classy way and order the lady a drink, for instance, “‘I’ll have an Arnold Palmer and the lady will have a Bill Cosby.” Or “Hey did you see the Avengers last year? I don’t want to ruin it but let’s say Thanos was like a stand-up comic, he was just killing it. I’m sure either of those lines would work but nobody can match the panache of our good family friend Joe Peters.
One thing my dad taught me through his actions is that we are not better than anybody. I mean my dad likes everybody, except for whomever is the republican president at the time, but other than that my dad truly believes that we are all equal. He has time for everybody and his kindness is inspiring. When I was growing up one of the neighbor families was the Peters. The Peters had a son named Joe who suffered brain damage and became mentally retarded as the result of being kicked in the head by a horse. Joe’s father also died so my dad became like a surrogate father to him even though he was being raised by his mother and later on he lived in group homes and institutions. My dad would keep Joe’s comedy records for him when he was living at institutions, he would buy him clothes, take him out to movies, talk to him on the phone and was just really a great friend to Joe.
Joe is absolutely one of my favorite people of all time. He really had a love of comedy. He had a great record collection which included Allen Sherman, the Smothers brothers and yes, Bill Cosby. I personally listened to many of his albums while they were being kept safely in my room. Bill Cosby’s story about watching his kids and being convinced by them to make chocolate cake for breakfast is still one of the greatest bits I have ever heard. Joe also liked to drink beer and smoke cigarettes. So he was a pretty regular type guy but he just happened to have the intellect of an 8 year old. There is one more thing that Joe liked to do that guys can relate to but we will get to that later. Can you say foreshadowing?
There was a pizza place about a mile and half from where I lived in Fremont and one day we decided to all go there. My mom and dad were there and my uncle Gene and his wife Jerry and my brother Jim and I also went. Jerry hadn’t met Joe yet and as I said Joe was not down syndrome so you couldn’t tell immediately that Joe had his mental challenges. Joe was a pretty friendly guy, he liked to talk to people and he would always tell me jokes when he would call the house. His sense of humor was always endearing. So Joe walks up to Jerry and says ” Hi, I’m Joe. I like to masturbate.” Bam! There it is. You should have seen the look on Jerry’s face, she looked like she just saw a six car pile up on the freeway, then she just says “Good, for you.” This is too good to make up, I’m just glad Joe didn’t get his ass kicked. Anyhow my mom walked over to Jerry a little bit later and says in her ear, “He’s retarded” to which Jerry replied, “Ohhhh.” I mean, A plus response on both accounts. What more is there to say to that, really?
I have to thank my brother Jim for reminding me of this story the other day. We were chatting about some of our favorite memories from our youth and he brought this up. In an odd way there is a brilliance to this kind of introduction though if you think about it. We never know what to say to people when we meet them. Should we come up with something trivial like the weather or a movie? Should we be cheesy, like, use a standard pick up line? Should we be direct, like hey, you look good or should we say something about ourselves which is significant, which gives somebody a little insight into who we are? I think Joe had the right idea, just not exactly the right execution. “I like to masturbate” is not exactly a good way to endear yourself to a lady but ” I like 90’s alternative rock and my first love is baseball” that might be a good way to introduce yourself.
Both Joe and my dad have taught me a few things about life. My dad has taught me to be kind to others. We are never above anybody. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the underdog and will often stop and give some spare change to a panhandler and make small talk with them for a moment before going my way. Joe has taught me to be authentic and no matter who you are there is nothing like a little comedy to brighten your day.
Ok, they’re not all going to be about pizza, I swear. But I got to thinking how funny the first one was and realized I have another funny story that takes place in a pizza parlor. So why not keep the theme going. The stories get more serious but I show my sense of humor throughout the book.
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