Recently in Funny things Peter said Category

The asparagus joke

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I was eating some asparagus just now and it reminded me of a joke Peter used to tell. It went something like this:

This woman was at a dinner party, and there was a platter of asparagus being passed around the table. When it got to her, she very carefully cut off all of the tips of the asparagus and put them on her plate, then passed the platter along. The woman next to her said, “Excuse me, but you seem to have cut off all of the tips of the asparagus and kept them for yourself.” The first woman said, “I know—they're the best part.”

My recollection is that Peter found this joke endlessly entertaining. He told it regularly, and laughed every time he told it.

But I have a confession to make:

I don't get it.

(And thus I may've told it wrong! I went and looked for it online, but couldn't find it. If any of you know a better rendition, let me know.)

I think that the idea is that the first woman is so self-absorbed that she doesn't realize that it would be polite to leave some of the best part for other people. But if so, I never found that terribly funny. And I may've completely misunderstood the point of the joke anyway.


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I posted this in my main blog about five years ago, but it just occurred to me that I ought to repost it here:

Peter used to occasionally explain that various things worked by means of “FM.” I would ask, “What's that?” He would reply: “Fuckin' magic!"”


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A chance comment this evening reminded me that Peter used to refer to holding hands as "premarital interdigitation."

I see by a quick web search that he was not the only person to say that, but I think he was the only person I ever actually heard say it.

And that indirectly reminds me that he also, on at least one occasion in my childhood, referred to water as "rock juice."

This is a letter that was on Peter's computer's hard drive. I assume that he actually mailed it; it would not have been out of character.

I've tried to reproduce the formatting of the original, which was mostly ordinary, with a couple of exceptions.

January 12, 2004

To Whom It May Concern:

Today at 10:51, 10 minutes after I parked, parking ticket #29774 was issued on my 1975 Thunderbird sedan. I had cruised up and down the upper employee parking lots and found absolutely no spaces. I then parked in the tiny space just inside the entrance. I parked next to a very long pickup truck which stuck out 2 or 3 feet farther than my car did, but neither vehicle was over the line or obstructing traffic in any way.

The citation states that I parked in a “striped zone at the north entrance”. When I read the ticket, I inspected the pavement, and there were no stripes to be seen! If people are to be ticketed for parking in a “striped zone”, then it seems to me that there ought to be visible stripes painted on the ground....

Also, half a dozen parallel parking spaces alongside the entrance road have been eliminated, and there is a serious shortage of parking spaces. I needed to get to the Tutorial Center by 10:50, and that was the only space I could find. I was only parked there from 10:45 a.m. to 12:55 p.m., having tutored for an hour and taught a math class for an hour.

For these reasons, I appeal for clemency. Please let this be a warning ticket: now that I am aware that that space is off-limits, I will not park there again. It has been said that

“Justice must be tempered with Mercy!”

As Lt. Colombo says, “Just one more thing...” I have worked as an editor at two publishing houses, and I offer the following suggestion for the citation form.

At the top of the ticket, it says, “This vehicle is illegally parked for one or more of the following reasons...” However, the first five boxes to be checked (speeding, etc.) are not parking offenses but moving violations. When this form is re-ordered, perhaps it could be changed to say, “You have been cited for one or more of the following parking offenses or moving violations, and may be subject to towing at your expense.” Also, on the back side, I.3) “BACK IN PARKING” should be “BACK - IN PARKING” ....

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Best regards,

[blank space for signature]

Peter Hartman, instructor

History does not record whether his request for clemency was granted, nor whether his edits were incorporated into a future version of the ticket form.

Anecdotes/jokes from Peter

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On looking through some old files, I found a file from mid-1989 titled "peter.anecdotes." He must have sent me these notes in email at some point (see a forthcoming entry about Peter and email), but I don't know exactly when (probably early '89), and I'm not sure whether these three paragraphs were all in the same message or in different ones.

Here's the contents of the file:

When the poet Gregory Corso (Allen Ginsberg's Friend) was 21 he went into a police station in Brooklyn and announced "Now that I have attained my majority I demand to be executed!" (Some sens'a huma', some people have....) They not only didn't oblige him, they confined him to Belleview for observation for a few weeks. The day I was 21 I went into a tavern where I'd been drinking for 3 years, feeling deliciously legal: "Today's my birthday Jack -- buy me a beer...!" "Here -- how old are ya?" "TWENTY-ONE!" "Arrgghh!!" I imagine you can come up with something better than these for yours.

Did you hear about the Dan Quayle bond issue? No principles, no interest, and never matures. Dan Quayle asked his opinion about Rowe vs. Wade: "Yeah, well, those are two ways to get across the Potomac...?"

Ok, I'm going back to work -- it was nice talking to you.... It was far out that I'd ask you for the first time a question that for the first time you had a non-empty answer for.... The Cosmic Coincidence Control Center also arranged last week for me to write a letter to my boss detailing a scenario whereby a user could get "permanently" locked out of his/her system (at least until the CMOS chip is electrically discharged by removing the battery for a while). The author of the BIOS, a likable guy from Italy, assured me for twenty minutes that this scenario was outlandish and would never happen in a billion years etc. That afternoon, for the first time in more than a year, the "worst-case" happened in the product manager's lab (a system in which a password had never been specified suddenly demanded one...). All and sundry were blown away. Why do ducks dive into the water? (For divers' reasons...) Why do ducks lie on a rock in the sun? (For sun-dry reasons...) Enough.

I posted the Peter-turning-21 story in this blog a while back, but I figured it was worth posting his version.

I think the question he mentions above was probably something like "Do you have a girlfriend?" Although the timing on that doesn't seem right. Not sure.

Languages in the home

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When I was a kid, at one point my school sent home a form that asked for various bits of info about the kid's home life.

One of the blanks on the form asked for a list of the languages that were spoken in the child's home.

Peter wrote: "English and Gibberish."

(I don't actually remember for sure whether it was Peter or Marcy who did this, but it certainly sounds like something Peter would have done, so I'm saying it was him.)

A Crustacean With A Sleeping Disorder


When I was in my early teens, Brother Peter sort of told me a joke. That is, he asked me a question and would not tell the punch line to this joke for many years, after I "gave up" and nearly begged him for the answer. He referred to this as a "Time Joke", and claimed that at some point in my life that I would think of the answer without being told.

Personally, I don't think I would ever have thought of the answer, but perhaps he was right and I didn't give it enough time. I won't put you through the same exercise, as I intend to give both the question and the answer in this blog today.


Some of you might not like this joke, as it is a little off-color, so I intend on asking the question in the upper part of this blog, and I will supply the answer in the area below where you will have to click and see the answer. Therefore, if you are easily offended, please do not read on. Or, if you wish to think about it to see if you could come up with the answer on your own, then don't click below until you are ready to read the punch line.

I don't believe Peter made this joke up, as I don't recall him saying he did, and if there is attribution to the originator on the web somewhere, I did not research it enough to include that here. I would like to know if anyone else who knew Peter remembers him telling this joke to them in years past?

With all of that said, here is the question:




Anyway, when, (or if), you wish to know the answer to Peter's inquiry about the crustacean with the sleeping disorder, then click below, or else treat it like the time joke that Peter claimed it was...

Experience Comes From Bad Judgment?

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I remember Peter had a (humorous) phrase he used, often, in the later Tacoma years, anyway...

He would say, "Good judgment comes from experience, and often, experience comes from bad judgment.", or something like that, and then he completed it, with the syllogistic punchline eluding me!

If you remember Peter using this phrase, PLEASE take the time to tell me? This has confounded me for the last several years. The memory is there, but for whatever reason, I can't pull it out... I can't complete the thought.

If only I could just pick up the phone and ask Peter!

Consider this a phone. Consider that I have asked.