There’s an old joke that goes like this:
Worried that their son was too optimistic, the parents of a little boy took him to a psychiatrist. In an attempt to dampen the boy’s spirits, the psychiatrist showed him into a room piled high with nothing but horse manure. Instead of displaying distaste, the little boy clambered to the top of the pile and began digging.
“What are you doing?” the psychiatrist asked.
“With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere.”
(Stolen shamelessly from some random web site with the assumption that retelling a joke is as fair use as it gets.)
I had to Google the joke itself because I couldn’t remember the setup, but the punch line has been a favorite of mine for years, although when I say it I use shit instead of manure. Maybe that’s because I didn’t remember that a little boy said it, or maybe because it just sounds better that way.
In any case, my husband and I were out with friends the other night. One of the guys said something that prompted me to remark, “There’s got to be a pony there somewhere.”
He laughed appreciatively, but his wife cocked her head and looked at me as if to say, “Huh?”
A third friend said, “What are you talking about?”
I said, “The joke. With all that shit, there has to be a pony somewhere.”
She shook her head. “Nope. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I turned to her husband. He shrugged. Horrified, I said to the first guy, “Well you know the joke don’t you? You laughed!”
“Never heard it,” he said.
“Then why did you laugh?”
“I figured you were trying to make me feel better by saying something about a cute little horse.
How could it be that I was the only one who knew that joke? We’re all within a few years of each other, age-wise, so it’s not like there was a generation gap. Even my husband claimed he hadn’t heard it, and I guarantee I’ve said it in front of him before. (That, however, may be a case of the selective hearing practiced by all happily married couples.)
He did point out that I have been known to say to him, in exasperation, “Why aren’t you two ponies?” which is what Charlie Brown said to Snoopy when he was trying to figure out how to ask out the little red-haired girl. They didn’t know that reference either.
Up until now I’ve accepted as a universal truth that at some point in their lives all children ask, “Can I have a pony? It can live under my bed.” But maybe that was just me. Maybe I have an unhealthy pony obsession. Come on friends, saddle up and weigh in on this.
If I said to you, “With all this shit, there has to be a pony somewhere,” would you know what I was talking about? Inquiring minds want to know.