By the Book: April’s foolishness — a dose of drollery

April Fools’ Day was a while back so I’m writing about April Foolishness. If you find anything serious in this, call the authorities.

Blond guy answers the phone, listens and says, “It certainly is” and hangs up. Seconds later the same thing happens: “It certainly is,” he says again. After the third time his wife asks what’s going on. He says, “Someone keeps saying, ‘It’s a long distance from Seattle.’ ” 

How many waiter/fly/soup jokes have you heard?

Customer: Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.

Waiter: Well, sir, the cook used to be a tailor.

Customer: Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?

Waiter: It appears to be scuba diving, sir.

Another blond guy goes to a pizza parlor and orders a pie. Pizza guy bakes it, brings it over and says, “Should I cut it into eight pieces?” Guy says, “No, I’m not that hungry, cut it into 4 pieces.” (I actually helped my son understand fractions with this years ago. I can still hear him: “But it’s the same thing.” Bingo!)

Oh, I’m supposed to be writing about books.

Teacher: Do you like Kipling?

Student: I don’t know, I’ve never kippled.

Here’s a story out of the Pentagon. Employee receives a top-secret document and is directed to read it, initial it and forward it. He does so, but it’s back on his desk the next day with a memo informing him he actually wasn’t cleared to receive it. It ended “Please erase your initials and initial your erasure” True? Nothing would surprise me.

Listen, if you’re flying to Africa you should leave from Chicago. That way it’s O’Hare today and Ghana tomorrow.

Wife comes home from playing golf, husband asks how it went. “Oh, it was terrible,” she says, “I was playing with Edna and she dropped dead on the fourth tee.” Husband gasps, “Oh, how terrible.” “You have no idea,” she says, “All day long it was drive and drag Edna, chip and drag Edna, putt and drag Edna … ”

Oh, books. Oscar Levant said he didn’t read books because they distracted him from himself.

Speaking of Mahatma Gandhi, did you know that because he never wore shoes the bottoms of his feet were like leather. He was a spiritual man, rail-thin from unhealthy eating habits that had also left him with very bad breath. In short, he was a super-calloused fragile mystic, hexed by halitosis.

Back in the 1920s-40s, there was a series of adventure books featuring young hero Tom Swift. I read several — the usual boyhood fare — but in the ’60s someone thought up Tom Swifties. (Example: “I’m running as fast as I can,” Tom said swiftly.) This adverbial foolishness swept the country, articles appeared, a book. Here are three:

This pineapple has turned bad, she said dolefully.

The Yankees won’t be in the playoffs, he said ruthlessly.

You must repeat the geometry Regents, she said testily.

Finally, Woody Allen said he’d taken a speed-reading class and read “War and Peace” in 20 minutes. “It involved Russia,” he reported.

If you have any jokes of this caliber (.22 ?), send them along.

TR050808_book_Case_R.jpgMr. Case, of Southold, is retired from Oxford University Press. He can be reached at [email protected].