Overthinking the weekend joke

I always look forward to the Happy Catholic weekend joke, and this weekend’s was funny enough for me to read it out loud to my Patient Husband. I hope Julie doesn’t mind if I crib it from her post (which is here):

Roger left for work on Friday morning. Friday was payday, so instead of going home, he stayed out the entire weekend partying with the boys and spending his entire pay packet.

Finally, Roger appeared at home on Sunday night, and obviously he was confronted by his angry wife, Martha who castigated Roger for nearly two hours with a tirade befitting his actions. Finally, Martha stopped the nagging and said to Roger, ‘How would you like it if you didn’t see me for two or three days?’

Roger replied grimly, ‘That would be fine with me.’

Monday went by and he didn’t see his Martha. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with the same results.

By the Thursday, the swelling had gone down just enough so that Roger he could see Martha a little out of the corner of his left eye

In full disclosure, I laughed. He laughed. Kiddo#1 overheard it and laughed. But then my Patient Husband came to me and said, “But what if you reversed the roles?”

Ooh. Ouch. Suddenly it wasn’t funny anymore.

He and I have noted that in movies and books, it’s supposed to be “okay” for a woman to hit a man, or even funny. But a man hitting a woman simply isn’t tolerated (nor should it be.) So what gives?

I had to overthink this one. And eventually I decided it’s the reversal of the American understanding of male and female roles. Because in the joke, the man has abdicated his stereotypical masculine role as the provider and protector of the family (or in this case, the couple.)

The woman then goes ahead and fulfills her stereotypical female role, by nagging. For two hours.

And then when that doesn’t work, the woman takes on the stereotypical male role and hits the guy. So it’s not just the surprise of how he doesn’t see her for three days. It’s also the surprise of the woman acting like a man.

We experimented with turning it around: what if the woman had abdicated her stereotypical womanly role? What if she’d left the guy with a baby for three days? What if it was two male roommates? Two sisters?

We couldn’t come up with another way to make this joke work without the spousal abuse element. And I’m at a loss, because I like the “punch-line,” but not the subtext.


  1. blueraindrop

    parent to teenager works, though i don’t suppose hitting a kid is any better, and somehow it seems to make it feel more likely to have been about 20 years ago or so.

  2. Cricket

    It works for several reasons:

    It makes us expect one thing, and gives us something else. That’s the core of humour.

    It’s something we all sympathize with, but are too civilized to do. It makes us happy because, if we sympathize with her, then she, in turn, sympathizes with us and our frustration at not having such a short, effective release, and the strength of the fear that’s behind her frustration. (It’s fiction, so we suspend our disbelief and accept that it’s effective.)

    Then it pulls us around again with a pun on “not seeing”.

    Sometimes we go too far in being politically correct and sanitizing the world. That’s just as dangerous as not recognizing the problems that political correctness is intended to remedy. That’s not to say we should have thousands of jokes like this, but the occasional one is necessary to keep things in perspective.