A few Fridays ago some friends came to this apartment for drinks and pizza and Smash Bros., a new game in which you command Nintendo characters to jump around a drunken stage in a drunken frenzy and attack each other in drunken ways. I use that adjective because even if you are not drunk you will think you are drunk. You will think, How can I be so terrible at this game? How can I not pick up that crate? How can I have thought I was that Dr. Mario when really I was that other Dr. Mario on the other side of the screen, bear hugging a bomb that would rocket me out of play?
Late into the night I tired of doing terribly and said to one of our guests, who was fiery in his desire to carry on, “Reginald, your Mom called and she’s worried you’re playing too many video games and she also asked me to remind you to—“
And then I laughed a laugh. It was the sort of quiet, debilitating laugh that prevents you not only from finishing your thought but from ever finishing it. It might cause you to drool. It might cause you to choke.
“Your Mom called and she’s worried—“ I said.
“Your Mom called and she’s worried you’re playing, hwah, that you’re playing too many—“
“Too many what?” said someone else, whose name was Rupert the same way the other guy’s name was Reginald.
“That you’re, woo, that you’re,” I said, and this carried on for a long time.
Finally, after much steeling of the soul, I said, “Your Mom called and she’s worried you’re playing too many video games and she also asked me to remind you to take your penis medicine.”
“That’s it?” someone might have said or someone almost certainly thought.
But here’s what I think: the penis medicine joke is a three-part masterpiece of humor.
1. “Your Mom called and she’s worried you’re playing too many video games…”
This part, the opening, is maybe 6/10 golden “Ha!”s. The idea that a 30ish year-old man’s mother would call the host of a party to quietly express concern over that man’s passion for a video game not even owned by that man but brought by a guest is absurd but also a little recognizable, the sort of worry you can probably remember from 20 years ago. And it’s even better than the mother is not concerned that her son is at a party at one in the morning, that the person she just expressed this concern to sounded like he was twisted around a bottle of whiskey. She is only concerned about the video games. She has probably been worrying about her son all night and finally, unable to sleep, she has risen and called his home and found him gone. She has called his mobile and found him unresponsive. She has called his friends until she found the right person to talk with: me.
2) “…and she also asked me to remind you to take your penis medicine.”
This second part is actually two parts. I’m going to address the first part here.
Penis medicine. What does it mean? Is it medicine to address a condition of the penis? Is it medicine to enhance the might of the penis?
3) “…and she also asked me to remind you to take your penis medicine.”
The only explanation this part needs is: The mother is so concerned about the video games that her son’s need for penis medicine is an afterthought. It’s a thing so casual she need not even remind her son herself.