Fish Sticks and Death Jokes

Oh okay, so my dream aspiration is to become this famous writer, so famous that when I go to give blood at the Red Cross, the nurses are like, “Wow.  Is it really you, Jocelyn Fingle Murklestone (my pseudonym)?” and then I’m like, “Yes.  It actually is!” and then they are like, “Wow, whoever gets this blood is so lucky” and then I modestly say, “Well, I’m pretty lucky too because I get these free Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels and this mini cranberry juice.”  And then we both nod and then my watch which is a phone and connected to the leaf pin on my shirt rings (remember this is in like five years) and it’s my agent who has also become a close friend of mine and she’s asking if I can both give a talk in Paris next month and if I’d like to come over to her Brooklyn apartment this Friday night and play Scrabble with her and I’m like, “Yeah, definitely to both.  I’ll throw it on the calendar right after Lute Club practice.”

Oh wait, what?  You didn’t ask me what I was dreaming about just then?  Oh sorry. Disregard that whole thing.  Yeah, you can have half my fish stick.  I’m probably not going to eat that.

So, yeah, but my life is going pretty darn well.  I am in the middle of a French middle grade book and am understanding at least one out of seven sentences.  I have learned the words “Berk!” (yuck) from this book.  I have also learned “grave” (“seriously or totally”) from my French friends in Buffalo and possibly “psycho chienne” (psycho bitch) from the TV show, “Catastrophe” but I’m not quite sure that’s correct because it doesn’t seem quite right.  If it is, I think these will all come in very useful.  Especially in this kind of situation:

“Berk!  Cette homme juste vomit son biere sur moi!”

“Pff! Quoi un psycho chien!”

“Oui.  Oui.  Je suis d’accord. Allons-y mon ami!”


I’ve learned that to make up for having only moderate French skills I try to be really funny in French.  This is pretty hard.  It’s also pretty risky.  But, when it works, it really pays off.  For instance, at a wedding in Bordeaux, I was around all French speakers.  This was super scary and required me to drink multiple glasses of wine.  I couldn’t really understand what people were saying, but after the “night” (read: wine) wore on, I decided to make a joke saying the name “Gerard Depardieu” as a kind of French toast.  No one really understood, including myself, what this meant, but it served to make everyone laugh like–“That crazy American! Wow! What individuality!  What a good pick, Vincent!”

I think if I were ever to move to a foreign country, I would really need to work on my French humor.  I’ve noticed that French people, i.e. Vincent, find things that are somewhat dark and disturbing to me, to be very funny.  For instance, the concept of death.  If I tell a good joke involving some kind of mockery of death, Vincent finds it really funny.  It’s sort of like this nihilistic, existential personality that Americans often associate with the French.

I kind of like this type of joking now so I look for opportunities to make jokes about death.  Like, I have this idea that when I die, I don’t want to be in a cemetery.  Instead, I saw this Facebook ad for essentially, “death trees.”  Like you put your ashes in the tree and then you have the tree in your garden.  This sounds like a way better use of my body than anything else, so I joke about it with Vincent–like, “You’re gonna be sorry you’re insulting my gardening skills when I end up in a tree in our living room and every time you walk by the tree, I creepily drop one single leaf to show you that I’m watching you.  Always.  For Eternity.”  We both find this really funny.  When I make these jokes with my American parents, they don’t find this funny. They just look really sad and change the subject.  So,  you know, you have to select your humor for the audience I guess.

Why did I even order these fish sticks?  Man.  Fish should not be rectangular.  Lesson learned.



6 thoughts on “Fish Sticks and Death Jokes

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