It’s funny how much it can hurt!

Beauty Contest winner
May 13, 2016

It’s funny how much it can hurt!


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Question #22
Rite of Passage Eight –A Taste of Things to Come–
(1951-1953) Age 17-19 years old

Q: Jesting: A jest has been described as a fishhook (and line) set in hard candy. At first it’s almost funny but after a while its humor melts and the hook begins to tug. Did a jest like my “fish slice” ever cause you deep personal concern?

Treena had re-entered my life. She had won the very first of the now famous ‘Jersey Battle of Flowers’ beauty (and ROP 8 set left. "I am 20-22"talent) contest and I had seen her coverage in a newspaper.

I wrote, never expecting a reply…

She replied and there, buried in the otherwise chatty and friendly words, was one sentence that she had heard her father use and she had felt it amusing enough to repeat, “Are you going to defend England with a fish slice?” She was responding to my ‘news’ that I was to be commissioned as an officer in the army catering corps.

It was bad enough that I had wound up in the ‘dreaded’ branch of the army that my dad had warned me was a ‘fate worse than death’ but it was quite another issue to have ones first love (having become a ‘beauty queen’!) using her father’s disparaging words…as a…JEST!

That sentence leapt off the page and almost ended our relationship.

How easy it is to release harmful words wrapped in ‘good humor’ enough to gain an initial laugh but words that remain just under the surface to cause such thoughts as…”what does she mean by that!” I was already aware of my choice of service it had made sense at the time…now I wasn’t so sure!

So…what about now? 

Treena explained, several years later, that the ‘jest’ had not been hers but was her father’s way of passing on his disapproval of me…to her. That helped ‘bury the fish slice/hatchet’ between us.

I now find myself living in an age of very smart, very active jesting that finds much fertile soil in the public media, including, obviously, the Web. Jesting allows critics to make public their private oppositions and then, if challenged, to respond, “But I was only joking, surely you didn’t take it seriously?”

A jest allows ‘wriggle room’ and so, in a real sense, whilst it may be funny at first…it’s really the wrong or dishonest use of words.

A ‘fun’ way of doing harm? Lets push back –respectfully– when it is next used?

P.S. This week I read Treena’s poem Hope.


  1. Mike . Says: 9:28 am

    I have found that texting is not good for thoughtful conversations due to not being able to see the other person’s reactions. A wrong word even texted by mistake can spell disaster. Young people seem to not be bothered by this, having been reared on shallow conversations, but we older folks find it hard to communicate without seeing the other person and responding to facial expressions and other body language.

  2. Lynn Severance Says: 2:17 pm

    The written word can be wide open to misinterpretation. I have not the voice inflection, the countenance of the one writing that could help in interpretation. The opportunity to talk through my confusion immediately may not be possible. Trying to work it through with more written exchange can muddy what is already unclear.

    It is wonderful to be in a relationship with another where lighthearted communication and some jesting is part of the friendship language. It needs to be something that is built from knowing the others personality and ways of expressing themselves. When in doubt or if some offense is taken, talking it through to clarity is very important. So many factors may compose misinterpretation whether spoken or in written expressions.

  3. John Viljoen Says: 8:56 pm

    The “jester” may persist in the dishonesty if you call them on it. “Oh, I was just kidding,” or “Can’t you take a joke?” On the other hand, one could ignore it and not reward the jester with a reaction.