Monday, October 18, 2021

Our, oh, so sinister nipples


(617 words)

One of the most brutal situations a public speaker must endure is to persevere through his or her presentation when he or she knows they’ve lost the audience.

You’ve said something offensive. Your jokes fall flat. They hate you.

Sure, being a married father of young daughters, I’m in a better position to deal with this than most. I lose the audience at the breakfast table when I ask if someone can please pass Daddy the milk.

But last week I felt the air rush out of the room and the audience turn on me when I raised a topic that crossed a line — one just below the neck.

Yes, I went for the nipple.

Rhetorically, speaking.

I was going for edgy and wound up afoul of audience sensitivities.

Or should I say abreast.

In attendance were about 100 members of a popular civic group; about 25 adults and 75 high school seniors. The students were mature, focused, ambitious, proper — nothing like I was back then. 

I was lazy, shiftless, a real entitled little prick. And I don’t mean like I was in high school.

I mean like I was last Thursday.

And I just can’t help myself. It was like I dared myself to tell the nipple joke. Picture me at the podium looking smug and, oh, so self-satisfied.

Ready? Here goes …

“Be so at peace with the world, the only thing you have left to get off your chest are your nipples.”


It’s just a great line. Only 21 words. Easy to remember. Packs a punch. And it includes the word that still cracks up those of us whose sense of humor remains anchored in the 8th grade.

Every time I deliver a line like that I expect a balloon drop, followed by a ticker-tape parade and a bi-partisan Congressional declaration that my February 15 birthday shall be a national holiday.

What happened?

It was like I told them I was going to deliver the rest of my talk in my underwear. There was a disgust so palpable it felt like I’d been hit in the face with a sloppy old bar rag.

From my perch I could see girls and some of the more sensitive fellas begin exchanging nervous glances. They began shutting down. I’d lost them. It happened that quick. There would be no recovery.

Done in by 6-letter “n-word” that isn’t THE 6-letter n-word.

Why in our breast-obsessed society is the humble little nipple so radioactive, alluring yet repellent. Wholesome yet sinister. Both innocent and corrupt.

I could understand it if the duality played out atop the breasts themselves, a mammary equivalent of the old good cop/bad cop routine.

Or if nipples were exclusive to one sex. But we all got ‘em.

I guess the anatomical description just has a way of, well, titillating.

I remember in 2004 when a split second viewing of Janet Jackson’s lovely nipple brought the nation to its knees. Her wardrobe malfunction infuriated Super Bowl fans who’d tuned in for what to them is the patriotic pastime of watching over-sized multi-millionaires give one another chronic traumatic encephalopathy. 

Me, I’d to this day pay more attention to every snoozer NFL game if Roger Goodell announced each broadcast would henceforth include a split-screen nipple montage every time a referee’s flag falls to the turf.

So cancel culture be damned. I’ll not let them take my nipples from me.  Or you.

Now, all together …


I hope I haven’t upset you. No one knows better than I that nipples can be a real touchy subject.

Sorry. Just had to get that one off my chest.

Note: I’ll be speaking Wednesday, Oct. 20, 6 pm, at the Ligonier library; come for the camaraderie, stay for the nipple jokes (pre-talk cocktails from 4:30 to 5:30 at the Wicked Googly).

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Repeating myself over and over and ...


(622 words)

People say I repeat myself when I’m drunk.

People say I repeat myself when I’m drunk.

Or maybe you’ve already heard?

If you read this blog, live with me or have spent any time in a bar with me then you probably have.

I’m fond of saying it. If I’ve consumed a couple of straight up Wild Turkeys — and talk about your evening redundancies — I’ll usually start to crack myself up and begin laughing like I’m being tickled by a giant invisible feather.

More and more, I’m the only one who’s laughing. 

The increasingly common reactions to my jokes are eye rolls so extravagant it seems like I’m looking at a casino poker machine that is stuck on spin. This reaction from the family, I get. I’m not at all funny to them. 

But getting eye rolls from bar folk? It’s a disturbing development. 

“I enjoy hanging with drunks ‘cuz you can tell same joke same way five times in one night and it’s always hilarious. Not so w/sober wife.”

I came up with this line in, oh, 2016, and have probably said or typed it close to 500 times. It’s funny because it’s true. Drunk guys will laugh at the same line dozens of times. It never gets old.

It’s why I can walk into any bar full of guys and say, “Who own the Chiefs?” and be hailed as a friend. More over, I’ll unite the whole bar because every real guy knows to respond, “Owns! Owns!”

It’s the exact dialogue from the 1976 hockey comedy epic, “Slapshot,” when French-Canadian goalie Denis Lemieux tries to sleuth out secret information from GM Joe McGrath.

Every guy knows it. And every drunk guy thinks it’s so funny he will laugh at its recitation all night long.

I wonder if I’m spending too much time around sober folk. 

I’ve always counted on a certain level of listener inebriation to ensure my popularity. 

But I noticed some eyes tumble weeding over the weekend from people who’d already heard my go-tos.

Some of this was unavoidable. I spoke Friday to about 70 members of the Golf Heritage Society. They were in town for their national convention.

Many of the members heard me speak on an August Zoom call. I tried to change things up a bit when I spoke Friday afternoon, but the talks were similar, for sure. First of all, I’m not going to sit on good line on the chance someone’s already heard it.

The Stones performed in Pittsburgh last night. What are the chances Keith said to Mick, “Let’s not play ‘Satisfaction’ tonight. We played it here last time.”

And the talk went great. Spoke for an hour and then spent the next half hour greeting smiling strangers who stood in line to hand me $20 bills and say they thought I was great.

Boy, have I missed that!

But as I was making chit chat while simultaneously trying to write something witty in each book, a man said I was lucky to have been friends with Mr. Palmer.

Out of respect for his true friends, I always demur by saying, “It was more like I was lucky to be in his orbit. But for perspective, it was like I was Pluto … and some experts argue whether Pluto’s even a planet.”

It’s a funny line, very self-deprecating.

He said, “And that’s the third time I’ve heard that.”


Is it wrong to serve leftovers when seeking to make a good first impression?

I sure hope not. Still, I vow to continue to strive for pure originality.

Because some people are starting to say I repeat myself when I’m sober.

Because some people are starting to say I repeat myself when I’m sober.

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