Ages and ages ago, I told a joke. It was about Geraldo Rivera. It was so bad my husband punched me in the arm. I mean, he wasn’t my husband then. He’s not my husband now. But he was for a while, and I told him that joke, and I never told anyone else, ’cause I forgot it.
My husband, he said he forgot too. But I think he, like, kept it from me. With malice, sort of thing. He hated it, and he didn’t want me telling it, so he wouldn’t remind me, wouldn’t cough it up—
Fucking Geraldo joke.
Twenty-two years, now, it’s been driving me mad. That joke, man. How bad could it have been?
Yo mama? Her jokes are so bad she’s yo dad.
I wish I could reconstruct it, somehow. Do a defrag on my brain, and there it would be, in all its cheesy glory. (Maybe it wasn’t cheesy. Maybe it was racist. I can’t see myself telling a racist joke, but twenty-two years, that’s a long time. Maybe I did without knowing. When I moved to America—man, I was seventeen. I was dancing at this titty bar, this dive down in Austin, the Landing Strip. These black guys came in and I sat at their table, and they were telling me about themselves, how they’d come down from Michigan, which is almost in Canada. They said they hated how racist Texas was, and I said to them, I said “Racist? Here in Texas? Didn’t they abolish that in 1865?” And they laughed, and they laughed, and when they finally stopped laughing, they said “Slavery, lady. They got rid of slavery. Racism’s doing just fine.”)
How was I ever that daft?
Anyway. The Geraldo joke. It’s frustrating. I remember that day like it was yesterday, everything but the joke. We were walking down Koenig, where the Greyhound stop is. I was wearing this purple kimono, not a proper kimono, but the cheap Walmart variety, basically a dress with loose sleeves. It was a hot day, blue sky east to west. I remarked on that, that hard blue colour, how you only see that when it’s hot.
We stopped off for root beer, and that was important, ’cause we were telling the worst jokes we knew, passing this two-litre back and forth, trying to make each other spray pop. He was all “what was Beethoven’s favourite fruit?”, and I was all “ba-na-na-nas,” because that one’s got whiskers on.
I looked up at the sky. The sun was just blazing.
My mouth was all sugary. My teeth kind of hurt. I saw this fucking billboard, this great honkin’ face with the eyes peeling off, and it wasn’t Geraldo. It was some real estate agent, but he looked like Geraldo, and I said…
…and I sa-a-aid….
Oh, it’s no use. It’s vamoosed. I said something, and he stared at me, this dude I bloody married, and he punched me so hard I dropped our root beer. I punched him back, and he laughed, and I laughed, and he told me I’d won, that I’d won forever. There couldn’t be a worse joke.
I was happy. That was good. But a week went by, or a month, and I tried to recall the Geraldo joke, and I couldn’t. I kept thinking it’d come to me, but it still hasn’t happened.
Geraldo. Geraldo. What’s funny about Geraldo? That time he opened Al Capone’s vault, and it was empty. His great stupid pornstache. His hair. His glasses. Geraldo always…he…what’s the difference between Geraldo and a….
I hate you.