Lenny’s Best Joke

It was in Tiny Lenny’s Nosh Bar galley kitchen in Eugene, Oregon, that I heard Lenny Nathan’s best joke. He had a million of them. His storytelling skills were sharply honed. I still remember his pattern of speech, and I can hear his voice if I really listen to my memories of those many nights in the Nosh Bar.

But it was especially this joke that somehow epitomized the Nosh Man and his humor. After a while, all we had to do was put on a particular expression, make a little pause in the patter, and he’d echo the punchline. Here it is:

There was this guy. He was standing there and he had a box and he had a whistle. Another guy comes up and said, “what’s that box for?”

And the first man said, “If I blow this whistle, all the bees in the area are going to come and get in this box.”

The second man said, “I don’t believe it.”

So the first man blew the whistle and all the bees in the area swarmed him and then went into the box. The first man snapped the box shut.

The second guy started to get concerned and said, “That’s amazing! But what about the bees? How will they breathe?”

[There was a long pause, and when Lenny told this joke, it was all he could do to keep the sparkle in his eyes and not leaking out of the corner of his mouth.]

The first guys sez, “Fuck ‘em.”

And we would howl for hours.

Photo by Thomas Stephan on Unsplash