Tuesday, 6 March 2012

That's One!

Partner-who-drinks-tea is not the best at telling jokes. She usually gets some apparently minor detail wrong part way through leaving one thinking “Duh?” But she has perfected this one and is happy to remind me of it frequently:-

A middle-aged farmer is driving his horse and cart home from market and sitting next to him is his bright new young wife. As they are travelling along, the horse, an old decrepit creature, stumbles. The Farmer gets down from the cart and gives it a tremendous blow on the rear, saying “That's one!”

They have travelled a few more miles and the horse stumbles again. Once more the farmer gets down from the cart and this time takes his whip to the horse, beating it quite savagely. “That's two!” he says, and climbs back on board.  The bride, whilst obviously upset at his beahviour, says nothing.

After a couple more miles the horse stumbles again and the farmer gets down once more but this time he reaches for his rifle in the back of the cart and shoots the horse dead, saying “That's three!”.

His new bride can contain her horror no longer and says “Oh how could you be so cruel to that poor beast. It was doing it's best. Shame on you!”

The farmer looked at her, held up a finger and said “That's one!”

You might think that is not amazingly funny but it has become something of a major joke in our household. Any time I do anything that upsets Partner-who-drinks-tea (usually some mild, jokey insult) she holds up a finger and says, threateningly, 'That's one!'

The other day, when I failed to anticipate something she was going to say or misunderstood a half spoken sentence, she said “How long have we been married?” implying I should know her by now. My response of “I assume 'too long' is not the correct answer” earned me a “That's one!”

Later that same day she muttered under her breath “What am I doing?”
My response of “I've long since ceased trying to fathom that out!” earned me an even sharper look and a “That's two!”

Then, talking about the business's balances she commented “I'm still going to be short.”
“Aye,” I said, “”there's not much chance of you growing at your age.”
I fled the room to the sound of “That's three!” and something being thrown.


  1. This is one of my Daddy's favorite jokes! (He got it from a Jerry Clower comedy album.)
    Only in our version, it is a mule instead of a horse!
    After bad service at a restaurant from a rude or indifferent waitress, he will whisper, "That's number one!" So, isn't it funny that is a family joke in our family too?!

  2. I must tell Partner-who-drinke-tea your Dad's use of it, Kay. She'll love that!

  3. I have to say I find the original story more creepy-cruel than funny; but still understand how it can easily come to be used as a combination of private joke and warning system. (Count yourself lucky you have a wife who at least counts to three!)

  4. You and my husband should get together. That's his kind of joke.
    The repartee between husband and wife in Britain is quite different from the USA. When we were students (Married)my husband would make mother-in-law jokes or play the poor henpecked husband. I would have some poor 'helpless females' come and ask me if it didn't hurt my feelings. Love good British humor.

  5. How funny - that joke is in our family too. I remember it from my childhood - my grandpa used to use it about grandma. I dont know what he would have done on the count of three though because he was so small and she was a lovely, cuddly but b i g lady and would have made mincemeat of him! Happy memories.

  6. About that joke -thought you might be interested to know that that joke was at one point alive and well in the Canadian prairies. i remember my old Dad saying (twinkly-eyed) "That's ONCE," perhaps back in the 1960s, and maybe earlier, and for at least 40 years after that. As i recall, his telling of the joke didn't differ appreciably from yours. Always one for a good laugh, my Dad (I swear) never in his life forgot a joke he'd heard, and the ones he loved, he would haul out again and again, this one especially. He got a real kick out of saying those two words within earshot of others who knew the joke. Aside from the pleasure of the shared knowledge, I think the joke appealed to him for a couple of reasons - he would have loved the old-fashioned sensibility of the farmer, the wife, and the horse, reminders of his own up-bringing in 1920s and '30s on a Canadian prairie farm. Perhaps as important for him, however, would have been that the words, "That's ONCE," guaranteed the satisfaction of winding up my Mother, who never failed to delight him with her outrage, which, of course, would in turn fuel his enjoyment.
    It occurs to me as I hear the joke again, that jokes have a shelf life, so to speak, that is limited by ridiculous extent to which we are increasingly forced to pander to 'political correctness' so as to avoid offending anyone - surely an impossible endeavour at best, given that offence is the source of the humour that helps us to handle offence in the first place.
    Take care,

  7. They do say the old ones are the best, McGregrr! But we hadn't realised how old this one was going to be. I wonder if anyone has ever done research into the age of jokes. I suppose so few of them ever made it into print until recently that it would be impossible.

  8. I enjoyed this post - your replies to your wife :)

  9. Can't say she didn't warn ya! Great story :D


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