A while back we had a column about things that aren’t very funny to the victim even though they are hilarious to the onlookers. However, that’s not how things always work.

For example, when we were kids, here’s how Harry West used to tell what happened to him one day at Ocean Beach in New London:

“Tom Garrett, Frankie Barone, and I were splashing around in the place where the tide runs in and out of Alewife Cove. I was walking out into deeper water a few hundred feet off the end of the cove when Frankie Barone yelled at me not to go there.

“I was just about to yell back and ask him why not, when something grabbed the toes on my left foot. Well, I yelled all right. You should’ve heard me! ‘Oh, nuts! Oh, nuts! Oh, nuts!’ I yelled as I tried shaking off whatever had latched onto my poor foot.

“Ever seen a guy trying to do the high jump and a water ballet at the same time? As Garrett and Barone stood there with their mouths hanging open I jumped up and down, and danced around in that water, trying to shake off whatever it was, but no such luck!

“At last, after about two weeks, my foot blasted up out of the water, and a lobster went flying. What a monster! I tell you, that was one heavy-duty crustacean!

“When that thing let go I did the hundred yard dash onto the beach in six seconds flat. Safe! You should’ve seen me grabbing my toes and counting them. I lost track twice.

“Hey friend, take it from me. You talk about an experience a guy could do without? That’s it!”

Every time Harry told that story people rolled around on the floor.

Care for a good laugh on me?

There wasn’t much to do in the small off-base housing development that Lolly, the kids and I lived in on Okinawa our first year there. So it was natural that once or twice a week some of the families got together in the evening. Sometimes we just talked, sometimes we put on records and danced, and sometimes we played some kind of game.

One Friday evening when she knew that no one had to go to work the next day, one of the wives came up with a party game she said they used to play back in Germany. It was called, “The Name of the Game.”

We sat in a circle, each of us with a drink. Someone would call out the name of some set or group of things, like birds, or trees, or cars. Then the next person had to name one of them as we clapped hands and it went around and around the circle – fast! – until someone came up dry. Then everyone chanted, “So drink, chug-a-lug! So drink, chug-a-lug! So drink, chug-a-lug!” while the victim downed his or her drink.

The trouble was that if the things named were – say – fish; you might be sitting there keeping “trout” in mind, but the person ahead of you might say it.

And then you were dead!

However, I got smart. I started keeping two names in mind. So during one round where the subject was dogs I was thinking, “Pointer – setter! Pointer – setter! Pointer – setter!”

And when my turn came I said…

“Poinsettia!”

Never before or since have I ever laughed so hard or so long.

And so did everyone else.

True story. Honest!

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