Authentic Colonial Humor


Last week, as you’ll recall, I promised to continue the account of the East Coast trip that my school chums and I recently took, feeling that if I had to live through it, so should you. So here are some amusing anecdotes.

AMUSING ANECDOTE #1: We spent much of the first day in the colonial town of Williamsburg, which has been preserved to look just the way it did in the 1700’s, except that it was probably interesting to the people who lived there, most of whom are dead now.

My four pals (Aaron, Gabe, Scott, and Tyler) and I amused ourselves by attempting to determine exactly which things on the block were Authentic Colonial Things and which had had to be Reconstructed. We didn’t actually care, of course, but we really, really wanted to bug Katherine, the stone-faced, humorless tour guide. So we’d ask her things like, “Is that an Authentic Colonial Tree?” and “Is that an Authentic Colonial Dog?” and “Is that Authentic Colonial Dirt?” and so on.

AMUSING ANECDOTE #2, WHICH IS SOMEWHAT RELATED TO AMUSING ANECDOTE #1: One of the buildings at Williamsburg is the old printing press. Or perhaps it was the clothes store. One of them is relevant to this anecdote, but I don’t remember which. At any rate, the person at whichever one it was told us that in the 1700’s, that place hired mainly women because, as he told us, “they work for less.”

When he said that, we could see Katherine bristle because she was an Authentic Colonial Women’s Libber. At the moment, this detail is irrelevant, as is the whole anecdote, probably, but it will seem important in a few paragraphs.

Also, we happened to notice that there was a major Authentic Colonial Horse Pile in the road, left by an Authentic Colonial Horse. This will also seem relevant in a few paragraphs.

After approximately four eternities, Katherine told us that the tour was over and that we had an hour or so to kill by ourselves before Elvis, the bus driver, was going to show up and take us to the Authentic Colonial McDonald’s for lunch. Before going off on her merry way, though, she asked if there was anything else she could do for us. I, being the Authentic Colonial Humorist that I am, said in a very joking, smiling manner, “Why don’t you go clean up that horse pile?” Mind you, I didn’t mean anything by this; she asked what she could do, and I told her. Jokingly.

She didn’t take it that way, though. She said, in a voice you might use if someone had just shot a dart at your neck, “Now, why would you ask me to do that?”

Before I had a chance to answer, however, Aaron showed just why he is my best friend: He came to my rescue and said something even stupider than what I had said. He said, and I quote, “Because you’re a woman, and you work for less.”

Needless to state, this did not set well with Katherine, who proceeded to call Aaron every Authentic Colonial Name in the book. The whole group burst out laughing, and we all went to lunch.

And she never did clean up that horse pile.

Looking back on it now, I can see how there is no way I could have said, "Why don't you go clean up that horse pile?" without offending Katherine. Even though I didn't seriously expect, or even want her to do it, I can see no way of saying those words in a way that conveys an attitude of joking.

My editor thought the same thing, and that's why this column was not published. It was meant to be the continuation of the previous week's report on my trip to the East Coast; instead, there was no column this week, and the next week's column moved on to other subjects.

But you know what? Regardless of how offensive my comment may have been, there's no denying that Aaron's "because you're a woman and you'll work for less" is hysterical. It was just so perfect.