• Back in the old days, people seldom engaged in PDAs — Public Displays of Affection. Once, an elderly married couple went on a train trip together. Grandpa got hungry, so he jumped off the train at a station to buy some cheese and crackers, but he was late in returning and the train pulled out of the station without him. Frantic, he contacted the station agent, who wired ahead to have Grandma get off at the next station and wait until Grandpa could take the next train and catch up with her. Everything worked out fine, and as their granddaughter tells the story, when Grandpa got off the train at the next station and saw Grandma, “They were so happy to see each other they shook hands.”
• Anna Russell is a famous singer of parodies of opera arias. During one of her early tours, she reached a low point during a lumbermen’s stag night at a hotel in Chicago. The featured performers of the evening were strippers, so when Ms. Russell appeared, the lumbermen began to yell, “Take it off!” However, being a comedian, Ms. Russell responded, “I shall not take it off. I shall put it on!” Then she went from table to table, grabbing tablecloths and wrapping them around her body, and strewing broken glass behind her. She managed to leave the scene with her honor intact, but because of the bill for breakage, she made no money that night.
• Jewish law recognizes the duty of “onah” — regular sexual intercourse between husband and wife. In fact, ancient Jewish law prescribed the minimum requirement of “onah” for couples whose husbands worked at then-common occupations — or who did no work at all. According to ancient Jewish law, people who are wealthy enough to not have to work for a living should have sexual intercourse every day; laborers should have sexual intercourse twice a week; ass-drivers, once every 7 days; camel-drivers, once every 30 days; sailors, once every 6 months. Husbands who don’t fulfill their duty of “onah” can be fined.
• Nooners aren’t new, as this story shows. Al Greene never ate lunch. When he was 20, he got married to a woman with a wonderful shape. The telegraph office where he worked was near his home, so on his lunch break he got on his bike, and pedaled furiously home to his wife. Then, with five minutes left on his lunch break, he climbed on his bike and went back to work. He didn’t eat lunch for a year, and after that year, he continued not to eat lunch because he had gotten out of the habit.
• Henry Cadbury, an early 20th century scholar, professor, and Quaker wit, stayed away from telling risqué humor with one exception. Sometimes he told about staying in a hotel room in which a Bible had been placed. In the Bible was a listing of verses for various problems, including “Worried? See verse so and so. Troubled? See verse so and so. Lonely? See verse so and so.” After the listing for lonely, someone had written: “Still lonely? Call Mabel at 123-4567.”
• The British tongue-in-cheek spy series The Avengerswas noted for its attractive female leads and its incipient feminism. In the episode “Escape in Time,” it appears that Mrs. Emma Peel has been sent back in time. In 1570, she is put in the stocks, then accused of being “a heretic, a bawd, a witch — designed to drive a man to lust.” Hearing this, she replies, “You should see me in 400 years.”
• A couple of old maids lived with their cats. The old maids were very protective of their cats and never let them out. One day, one of the old maids met a man. They fell in love, got married, and went away on their honeymoon. After the wedding night, the old maid who had stayed at home received a telegram from her friend: “I don’t care what you do with your cat, but let my cat out.”
• Dancer Isadora Duncan once propositioned playwright George Bernard Shaw, saying that they should have a child together because he had a wonderful brain and she had a wonderful body. Mr. Shaw turned her down, saying, “Suppose it has my body and your brain?” She also propositioned Maurice Maeterlinck, who also turned her down, saying, “I am honored, Madame, but you must consult my wife.”
• After casting the leads in The Dick Van Dyke Show, Carl Reiner introduced Mary Tyler Moore (who played Mr. Van Dyke’s TV wife, Laura Petrie) to Dick Van Dyke, then joked that since the chemistry between their characters was important to the show’s success, “I would appreciate it if you would go spend the weekend together somewhere.” (They didn’t, of course.)
• Comic writer Robert Benchley knew how to stop sexual harassment. At a gathering in his Hollywood bungalow, a drunk writer was trying to get over-friendly with an absent bandleader’s wife. Just as the writer put his hand on the woman’s knee, Mr. Benchley asked the wife quietly, “I’m sorry. Is my friend becoming offensive?” The writer quickly left.
• A little girl had the habit of sucking her thumb. To get her to quit, her mother told her, “If you don’t quit sucking your thumb, you will swell up and burst.” Later that day, the little girl saw a pregnant woman. She looked at the pregnant woman’s stomach, and then said, “I know what you’ve been doing.”
• Harpo Marx was interested in painting, at one point creating several nudes. He once telephoned a model agency, but he forgot to say that he wanted a nude model. When the model arrived, he asked her to take off her clothes, but she declined, so Harpo stripped to his underwear and painted her as she wore his painter’s smock.
• “I’ll tell you what, I’ll go home to your wife and, outside of the improvement, she’ll never know the difference.” — Groucho Marx.
• Augustine of Hippo — who was later Saint Augustine — once prayed to God, “Give me chastity, but not yet.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
SOMETIMES FREE EBOOKS
John Ford’s The Broken Heart: A Retelling, by David Bruce
William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: A Retelling in Prose, by David Bruce
Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist: A Retelling, by David Bruce