Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Inside Joke Gift

Lately I've been feeling left out. I think it's mostly due to being effectively shut out from my former social network via the bar. My boyfriend, M, explained it to me this way last night:

"It's like you went through a breakup, and they got to keep all the friends."

Which is true. And this got me thinking about how frustrating it is to be on the outside of things, like party invites, really excellent gossip and inside jokes. But also how AWESOME it is to be on the inside of those same things, especially a long-running inside joke.

I am fairly oblivious in daily life and tend to be on the outside most of the time, which might explain my all-capping the awesomeness of being on the inside. Even if I didn't make up the original joke, I am happy to be involved and able to own the laughter that ensues. Like the one time my teacher friends made up a card game involving different actions for different playing cards. No one could think of anything to assign to the 5 card, so someone suggested doing something awkward. And from that day forward, anytime anything awkward happened, it was 5 Card. Did that random girl just pose in our picturel? 5 Card. This guy just totally used the gun show line and now he's just standing next to me and won't leave. So 5 Card.

We really thought this was going to take off. I truly believed we would see a hit TV sitcom using this as a recurring joke or at least part of their particularly hip and snarky language. It didn't happen. But you can see how I am still trying to push this forward. Feel free to use it with your friends as well.

Anyway, the inside joke idea made me think of the running gift gag I have with my dad. This goes back to sometime around 2000 or so. The conversation that started it all most likely happened while watching NBA basketball and most definitely went like this:

My dad: "You know, giraffes are taking over."

Me: "Like the world? Are they overpopulating?"

My dad: "No, I mean in home decor. They are everywhere. They're the next big trend."

Me: "Ok."

Not that I didn't believe him, but my dad, like me, has a tendency toward exaggeration. By "they are everywhere," he meant that he saw two giraffe statues at Pier One. So, when I began laughing, he broke too. Soon, "Giraffes are taking over the world!" was the funniest joke we could think of.

It followed suit that one of us would naturally have to prove or disprove this theory. So for my birthday, my dad found a little ceramic giraffe and gave it to me. "See," he said, "They are everywhere." And so began the Great Giraffe Gift-Off. Every holiday we exchange some version of a giraffe. We have given and received giraffe pencils, erasers, wooden statues, puppets, calendars, stuffed animals, cards, hand-drawn renderings, wrapping paper and more. Last Christmas I gave my dad a ceramic giraffe with holes in it. As an artist, he naturally turned it into a paintbrush holder. I found it at Pier One.

This joke has extended to include my aunt L, who sent me a giraffe poster in the mail, and M, who gave me a giraffe ornament. It has also extended to include non-holidays. Last year my parents went to Boston for Thanksgiving and for the first time, I didn't go. A week later I received some photos of the trip in the mail, one of which captured a giraffe head sticking out from the top of a tree.

There are two things that make this gift gag great. One, it's an inside joke between the two of us -- even though we didn't mean to limit our joke, it seems that besides the two examples I named, no one wants to join in all that much. In fact, most people, my mom included, just think we're weird. And two, giraffe trinkets are easy to find. There may not have been that many at the outset of this caper, but now, they quite literally are everywhere.

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