Over the years, H and I have spent a lot of time alone together. Our relationship started with four weeks of buses, camping and hitchhiking in southern Mexico. We moved in together shortly after in a city where I knew no-one besides her and her friends. And then we spent a glorious, grimy year living in a truck called Steve, where we often shared wide desert plains with no-one but each other (and millions upon millions of large spiders).
And now we’re living in Seattle, where we know a lot of people, but have been shut in together for seven months (and counting) of pandemic-imposed social distancing. So now we spend our working hours together, too.
With all this time alone together, you’d think we’d have basically become the same person by now. And in some ways, we are becoming unnervingly similar. We often dress in the same coloured outfits (and only realise once we’re out the door and it’s too late to change). H can quote stories from my book (and the many that didn’t make it into the book) back at me verbatim, and I can sing her the lyrics from her favourite musicals and Christmas songs at the most inappropriate moments (“White Christmas” in April, for example).
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One piece of our personalities that has remained separate, however, is our sense of humour. For someone as sharp and incisive as her, it still surprises me how closely H’s humour resembles that of a 14 year-old boy. She likes cheesy jokes (What do you call recently married spiders? Newlywebs! How does Jesus get his coffee? Hebrews it!) and the kind of American-style slapstick humour perfected by the likes of Melissa McCarthy:
This scene is a masterpiece, but not for the squeamish. You’ve been warned:
Apparently this perfectly describes H and her friends coming home from college for the holidays:
For my part, I’ve always been unable to resist the absurd.
This one might be a bit too weird:
…But if this isn’t funny to you, I’m not sure we can be friends:
But one of the few things that we both agree is hilarious is this sign outside a petrol station up the road from our house. The content falls into a few different genres.
Commentary on current affairs:
- “I USED TO COUGH TO HIDE MY FARTS. NOW I FART TO HIDE MY COUGHS.”
- “FLAT EARTHERS HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR BUT SPHERE ITSELF”
- “BAN PRE-SHREDDED CHEESE: MAKE AMERICA GRATE AGAIN”
- “HAVING A DOG NAMED SHARK AT THE BEACH WAS A MISTAKE”
- “THE 3 UNWRITTEN RULES OF BUSINESS: 1 2 3 ”
- “PSYCHIC CONV CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES”
- “THIS IS MY STEP LADDER. I NEVER KNEW MY REAL LADDER”
- “JUST DID A WEEKS WORTH OF CARDIO AFTER WALKING INTO A SPIDER WEB”
- “I WANT TO GROW MY OWN FOOD BUT I CAN’T FIND BACON SEEDS”
And exquisite puns:
- “I CALL MY HORSE MAYO AND SOMETIMES MAYO NEIGHS”
- “WHAT IF SOY MILK IS JUST REGULAR MILK INTRODUCING ITSELF IN SPANISH”
- “THEY’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE YARDSTICKS ANY LONGER”
- “I CHECKED MYSELF INTO THE HOKEY POKEY CLINIC & I TURNED MYSELF AROUND”
Lifelong Seattleites say the city’s been getting more square in recent years. That may be so, but it’s still the weirdest place I’ve ever lived. For example, the other day I saw a naked man throwing a frisbee for his dog in a crowded park. For a while, H and I lived near a small house that was painted completely purple and basically functioned as a huge monument to Prince.
Two autumns ago, a stranger approached me in a park and invited me to attend “Dinosaur Toast” that June — at least seven months away. What is Dinosaur Toast? Well, I would love to tell you, but while everyone we met in the neighbourhood knew and loved Dinosaur Toast, nobody ever told us what it actually was. “You’ll just have to go and find out,” they said. And judging by the official Dinosaur Toast website’s “About” page (pictured below), the founder would like to keep it that way. So I can tell you that Dinosaur Toast takes place the morning before the summer Solstice Parade, and it’s brilliant. But I can’t tell you what it is.
All this is to say that Seattle is a bit weird, and it knows and celebrates its weirdness. It can all get a bit self-congratulatory at times — “Omg we’re so weird, look at how weird we are!” So it’s no surprise that a weekly joke on a gas station sign has had its own local news segment. Look out for a few stereotypical Seattle characters: the deadpan business owner, the pastel-haired passerby, the nerdy businessman, the edgy haircut hipster, someone’s cool aunt.
“Usually if I have an idea and I tell my wife and she rolls her eyes, it’s a really good one,” the petrol station’s joke artist and cashier told KOMO’s Eric Johnson. “And it’s really good when she mutters ‘Jesus’ under her breath.”