In the 1990s, I played trombone in a big band in the San Francisco Bay Area:
The leader, a famous jazz pianist who had worked with Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge, Clark Terry, the Supremes, and others, would often tell us jokes at rehearsals. The problem was that he would tell us the same jokes repeatedly, and the whole band would sit through the telling, trying to make themselves laugh at the punchline. Here’s one of the jokes he would tell us (I remember it because he told it several times):
A man was driving down the road when a policeman stopped him. The officer looked in the man’s car and said, “Why are there four penguins in your car?”
The man replied, “These are my penguins. They belong to me.”
“Well, you need to take them to the zoo,” the policeman said.
The next day, the officer saw the same guy driving down the road. He pulled him over again. He saw the penguins were still in the car, but they were wearing sunglasses. “I thought I told you to take these penguins to the zoo!” the officer said.
“I did,” the man replied. “And today I’m taking them to the beach.”
I worry that I’ve started repeating myself. Recently, I was in the middle of telling my friend a story, and I stopped. “Have I told you this before?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Twice!”
Aargh! But I’ve learned that I’m not necessarily getting dementia. Research tells us that sometimes, even when we’re young, we may remember that we’ve told an anecdote, just not whom we’ve told it to.
So, from now on, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Now, I’m going to go back over my old posts and make sure I haven’t talked about this before.