Codger Column: Joking around

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Codger at home with Crone (a ka a Lois B. Morris) and Cur (Milo) at their West Neck Road home.
CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Codger at home with Crone (a ka a Lois B. Morris) and Cur (Milo) at their West Neck Road home.

Codger usually emerges in high spirits from the tunnel of winter and early spring, looking forward to the perks of balmy weather, the return of the Bucks, plump buttered bodies on Sunset Beach, the tick ambush, the undocumented two-day vacationers draining the aquifer, the … uh, oh, there he goes again. Codger might as well still be in his dark, chilly tunnel.

Who can blame him — this is such an edgy time. Just when it seems that the Terrible Twit has reached his tipping point, a new outrage normalizes the last one. Codger goes back and forth between trying to understand the motivations of his Republican friends and plotting to run them off the road.

How could they have been so unwise as to saddle us with this administration?

But on the other hand, how could his Democrat friends have been so irresponsible not to have come up with better candidates more attuned to the moods of the country?

Hey. Codger needs to take some blame, too. What was he doing besides worrying about the Rangers with Garth Griffin down at the FIT Center? And a lot of good that did.

Codger needs to get positive. Good stuff looms. One of the happiest new additions to the Island is the great cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer, who immigrated from Baja Shelter Island (East Hampton) a few months ago in search of peace and meaning.

His new play opens at the end of the month in Sag Harbor, and on June 10, Feiffer will speak at the annual Library Lunch at The Pridwin. Codger will be there to ask Feiffer a few questions, which he needs as much as the Terrible Twit needs a ghost tweeter. Stop that!

Give the Codge a break. He was just beginning to feel positive when an attempt at humor broke bad. As the Reporter has not let us forget in its past two issues, via three letters, an editorial and a news story, Supervisor Jim Dougherty opened his annual State of the Town address with an inappropriate joke.

Codger was in the audience, groaned and rolled his eyes, then shrugged it off. After all, like Othello, the supervisor has “done the state some service.”

But then, in a clueless defense of the ensuing criticism, Dougherty offered up other gags from other years, most of which were mildly anti-Irish.

An Irish-American making tired Irish jokes does not have the same, as they say, “optics,” as an old white man making misogynistic gorilla rape jokes. Codger can understand the views of those who say Dougherty should be fired for his lack of judgment and those who want us to just get past it. To paraphrase one of Dougherty’s better jokes, Codger has friends on both sides of the issue and he stands with them.

As Town Board member Paul Shepherd told Codger last week, there is just too much angst in the air these days, too much chaos and danger to get hung up attacking or defending an inappropriate joke. Codger agrees with Shepherd that Dougherty’s most relentless critics are reading too much into what even the supervisor has admitted was “a bad joke.” He has apologized for it at a Town Board meeting.

This is not the Terrible Twit! It’s not as if Dougherty had just fired Police Chief Jim Read after he announced an investigation into the supervisor’s connection to Comedy Central.

Codger and Shepherd happened to be sitting together at the best thing that happened last week, the kind of promising event that offers some hope for humanity and needs more attention and support.

This was the annual volunteer recognition luncheon of the Island’s senior services at the Presbyterian Church. Codger was thrilled. He had been invited as a new board member of the Senior Citizens Foundation.

He was surrounded by heroes of the Island, the Meals on Wheels drivers, the seniors who take other seniors to doctors’ appointments, who shop for them, check up on them. Laurie Fanelli, director of the senior center, and Town Board member Chris Lewis presented awards to the volunteers who every morning telephone shut-ins to be sure they are all right.

Ms. Lewis likened the five morning-call women to the long unsung heroes of NASA, the African-American women mathematicians celebrated in the film “Hidden Figures.”

No hidden figure, Supervisor Dougherty popped in, spoke to the group but made no jokes. Codger had a joke, but since it was so early in his senior career (though not in his seniority), he kept his mouth shut. He should have donated it to the supervisor. Here it is:

A guy bursts into a senior luncheon and yells, “Super sex, who wants super sex?”

A diner raises her hand and says, “I’ll take the soup.”