Soap Opera Game  |  Chicago Tribune “Kidnews” 05/25/93

For whatever reason (hanging out with the wrong crowd?), I always heard this done as a “porn star name” (sometimes involving your pet’s name, the street you grew up on, and/or your middle name) which I KNEW would never fly in a section with the word “Kid” in it. Skimming through some newspaper or magazine featuring an interview with a band to this day I’ve not heard, one of the members explained the “game” in this “PG rated” way, and a symbolic “light bulb” went off over my head.

I’m always somewhat blocked at making the “dirty” clean. WAY back in third or fourth grade we had to “tell a joke” as some sort of public speaking exercise and we were warned it had to be clean. The joke I wanted to tell and knew I couldn’t was something like, “A guy walks up the street and a man is snapping his fingers saying, ‘I’ve got the beat, I’ve got the beat, I’ve got the beat.’ He continues up the street and sees another man snapping and saying the same thing, ‘I’ve got the beat, I’ve got the beat, I’ve got the beat.’ He sees a third man snapping and says, ‘Let me guess, ‘You’ve got the beat’?’ and the guy says, ‘No, I’m just trying to get this snot off my finger.’

The joke was a hit to a small group on the playground, but I knew ‘snot’ would be akin to saying “bloody vaginal discharge” in class. One kid says to me, “If you’re not gonna tell it, can I?” And I said, “Go ahead.” He gets up tells the joke and changes the punch line to, “No, I’m just trying to get this TAR off my finger.” and it’s a tremendous hit with teacher and students alike. OBVIOUSLY it’s not a great joke, but the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to tell it “clean,” seems to have lodged it permanently into my gray matter... Hopefully this will not be my “Rosebud.”

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