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  • Writer's pictureLaura McBride

Al Fresco weds Used Carlotta

It's a punderful life. It must be; my husband's most frequent form of humour is the pun.

I can tell when one's about to emerge; his lips sort of purse up, difficult to see under the handlebar moustache, and he sneaks furtive looks at me. All of a sudden, one will issue forth and I groan or chuckle or punch his arm as the situation warrants.

Often the puns arise when he's driving. This should worry me, I suspect, because I know he works on his puns, and in the UK--especially on the tiny, twisty lanes of Cornwall--one needs one's brain for other purposes. But the man came with puns, or the puns came with the man...I'm not sure which. I do know, though, that while some marriages depend on sex, some on money, some on children and some on shared values from religion to kinky bedroom exploits, ours depends on one thing; my appreciation of his puns.

Fortunately, Simon and I both like words. Early on, when we still lived in the US and visited in Devon, we made up our own references for the local supermarket chains. They are:

Morrison's--Male offspring of traditional English dancers with bells

Waitrose--Queuing for flowers

Sainsbury's--Town of mentally healthy people

ASDA--Like your father

Tesco--The UK company of that D'Urberville girl

And yes, we often do use our words, rather than the shorter actual names, when talking about going shopping.

I hasten to add that my husband is, for want of a better description (or because I really don't understand it) an upper-level computer geek who does crap for antediluvian phone systems in odd places like Mali, Egypt and the United States and is apparently the 'go-to' guy for tricky issues.

But his father wrote plays and poetry when he wasn't selling fats and oils to restaurants, and his mother taught English and French.

A previous husband was a writer but, astonishingly, did very little with words except to use them to expose nasty things being done by governments and other criminals; among other things, he was a bureau chief for Dow-Jones/Ottaway, a US newspaper chain.

Because he was so unlikely to use words in humourous ways--or indeed engage in anything hunourous at all--it is no wonder I recall well the two jokes he made during the 16 years of our marriage. Both were wordplay, as it happens. But please recall, they were the only moments of levity in 16 years.

We were walking the dogs one night when he said: "What do you call an Hispanic woman who runs a combination whorehouse and used car sales company?"

Answer: Used Carlotta.

And we were on an escalator in Lord & Taylor in Stamford, CT, when he asked: What do you call a food that comes only from the tail of the fish and is eaten by Japanese Jewish people?"

Oy vay. I had no clue.

Answer: Tushi.

"Phat phuc noodle bar" by Ross W Martin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

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