I am no good with jokes. I like hearing them, although not at the expense of ethnicity or hair color, and sometimes they really make me laugh — but I can never remember them.
There’s a bookkeeper who works in the building that surrounds Pat’s Screen Printing, and she knows a million jokes. She stops in often to tell us one. (Not unlike the mail carrier who often comes in with a riddle/joke, but unlike the mail carrier, the bookkeeper’s jokes are funny.) Sometimes I’d like to repeat the joke, maybe to Lynn, but I can’t remember it five minutes after I’ve heard it. No matter how funny.
So here’s something for you: the one joke that I have remembered for years (and years and years), is one that never really got told.
It may be that my mother isn’t any better with jokes than I am, because she’s the one who told it to me. Although really all she did was tell me pieces and then the punchline, which she did remember. Which I have remembered all these years as well. It floats through my head from time to time, like now.
It is now going to require more explanation than any joke is worth, but bear with me. Once upon a time choral groups used to be quite popular. This was, you understand, before my time, if you can imagine such a thing. We had lots of sheet music floating around our house as I was growing up, and much of it featured some singing group on the front, like the Andy Williams Singers. Or Mitch Miller, who hosted Sing Along With Mitch. Or the Harry Simeone Chorale, which is the one you need to know for this joke. Or at least punchline.
Because if you listen to a singing group, you are listening to their strains. Strains of music wafting on the air for your enjoyment. Not straining to sing right, just strains of lovely music.
Got all that? Strains of music from the Harry Simeone Chorale. (You can hardly wait for this joke, can you?)
So the joke, which my mother couldn’t really remember, so I’ve never really remembered, except that I never forget the parts she did remember, has something to do with a bunch of gorillas being corraled and bathed — and leaving a ring around the tub. So, after someone who remembers this joke in its entirety presumably expends a few minutes of your time setting up the all-important punchline, which wouldn’t be funny today because no one recalls Harry Simeone, you are left with:
The stains of the hairy simian corral.
Even without the joke, I still think it’s funny, although I doubt I am winning over any converts today. The stains of the hairy simian corral — get it?
All right, you’re probably just looking at me, or your monitor, but that’s what I’ve got. Well, there’s a book of SpongeBob jokes sitting right here, so I could offer: When is a mailbox like an alphabet? When it’s full of letters.
Hairy simians suddenly don’t seem so bad, now do they?
I imagine I am recalling the one punchline I can remember because I have been staining, and straining to stain, for what feels like weeks on end now. My bookcase is in its finishing throes, although these throes are taking longer than I wanted. I wanted to have it completely finished on Tuesday night, which is our last class, but now that doesn’t seem likely, because in addition to stain, which I finished yesterday, I need to clear-coat.
Novice that I am, this didn’t sound like a big deal: clear-coat today, put my support brackets on Tuesday and ta-da! A bookcase in only eight weeks! But it turns out, clear coating isn’t that clear. It requires multiple coats. My teacher thought three, but the can wasn’t giving him clear-coated information, so maybe I can get by with two, but even so he kept saying, “This is going to take you a long time.”
He kept touting methods that would put me out on the street: using coating from a spray can, as one of my classmates did, or filling a paint sprayer. Both of those sound less environmentally healthy than brushing it on, even as I’m using some product Dusty eschews because he likes something Earth-friendlier.
I did ask about it at Western Lumber yesterday, but Roxie wasn’t familiar with it. From my bills it looks like Dusty ordered from someplace in Vermont, which is not going to get my shelves clear-coated in time. Plus there’s the part where as I was clearing off the deck railing last time I noticed how mottled it’s become. Seven months in and we are already looking at having to sand and re-coat the deck railing.
So I went with the water-based product Roxie did have, and has used for 20 years in her own house. But my touch-up stain (stains of the hairy simian corral) took well over an hour yesterday, so all the clear-coating of any fashion got put on hold.
I’m of two minds on this stain business. Initially I was planning to paint my bookcase, using up some of the endless cans of samples we have taking up a ton of space in the garage. But as I was working with the wood, I was admiring the grain of it, and I decided to stain instead.
I believe I told you all awhile back about how I used to save all my worn-out socks for rags, until I had many rags and few projects. Well, it turns out that’s what my teacher recommends for staining, old socks. Since I don’t have any of those, I have turned to t-shirts, which I have plenty of, and I have hand-wiped stain onto every board of my bookcase.
Some of it is kind of zen, rubbing along the grain of the wood, and some of it is tedium (how many more miles?), and some of it is old age, where knees and back protest at being low to the ground and acid reflux kicks in if I bend over too long.
The guys who own the woodshop are in the process of building tables to put projects on, so perhaps in the future I can stain at a higher level, literally if not figuratively. Because there will be a next project, and another class. Unless clear-coating puts me off the process. Did I say you can’t go too fast or too thick because you get bubbles, and once you’ve put this coat on you sand it off and coat again?
This feels like straining to get to the lovely stains, but I feel confident that Harry Simeone, whoever he was, would be proud.
I was going to post a Youtube video, but apparently Harry only trafficked in two types of music: Christmas and religious. You’ll have to look him up yourselves. Here instead are some of the shelves Lynn made for her first project, already installed and in use.