[ExI] joke

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Apr 28 04:45:43 UTC 2009

The purpose of this post is not to engage in the
vulgar practice of using the web to disseminate
jokes of questionable taste. Ahem. Certainly not!
There is a point.


   A young boy comes down for breakfast. Since they
   live on a farm, his mother asks if he has done
   his chores.

   'Not yet,' said the little boy. His mother tells
   him no breakfast until he does his chores.

   Well, he's a little ticked off so when he feeds
   the chickens, he kicks a chicken. When he feeds
   the cows, he kicks a cow. When he feeds the pigs,
   he kicks a pig.

   He goes back in for breakfast and his mother
   gives him a bowl of dry cereal.

   'How come I don't get any eggs and bacon, and why
   don't I have any milk in my cereal?' he asks.

   'Well,' his mother says, 'I saw you kick a chicken,
   so you don't get any eggs for a week. I saw you
   kick the pig, so you don't get any bacon for a
   week either. I saw you kick the cow so for a week
   you aren't getting any milk.'

   Just then, his father comes down for breakfast and
   kicks the cat halfway across the kitchen.

   The little boy looks up at his mother and says,
   'You gonna tell him or should I?'

Get it? Did you get it?

I submit that there are three kinds of people who
don't get the joke:

1. those not familiar enough with English, or
    at least not familiar enough with the terms
    having to do with sex

2. innocents, e.g., young people or the very
    ascetic, who never happened to pick up on
    that universe of discourse

3. folks whose linguistic associations failed
    them or who demanded more in the way of strict
    logic than the joke supported, (a category
    into which I myself fell)

I am reliably informed by two co-workers that

   ...<spoiler alert>...

the joke revolves around one particular other term
in the English language for cat besides "kitten",
"kit" and so forth, to wit, "pussy" (a term, of
course, that indeed is familiar to many, and even
to me).

Now I would have "gotten" a slightly different
joke: the man comes downstairs and kicks the
goat, and the little boy says to his mom, "You
gonna tell him or should I?". It wouldn't have
been very funny, in all probability, but it
would have made more logical sense, implying
perhaps a sudden discomfort to the man as his
wife now realizes she has a rival. (I tried that,
but a cat is too small. Er, I mean, I sought such
an interpretation of the joke, but the cat was
too small.)

Consider that the entire context of the joke
is supposed to have provided the basis for a
linguistic association, and does in fact
succeed for many or most people.

Yet (so my take goes) such are the logical
requirement of some of us that the following

    Kick chicken -> No eggs for a week.
    Kick cow     -> No milk for a week.
    Kick pig     -> No bacon for a week.
    Kick cat     -> No "pussy" for a week.

doesn't work at all. In the first three cases
the object of the kick provides a service. In
the latter case, the cat is out of the picture,
and only a synonym for the cat comes into play.
Mind you---I'm not saying that the joke is
wrong or illogical, just that I am surprised
that it works for most people.

(In my own case, so far as I can tell by
introspection, it was a simultaneous linguistic
association failure and a too rigid logical
adherence, the former possibly provoked by
the latter.)

Any analogs to this phenomenon occur to you,
or emergent new generalities, or other examples?


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