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A Brown Stick
Tim loved bad jokes. He couldn't get enough of them. He would have married a bad joke, given half a chance. Because I was best friend I had to hear them before they were unleashed out into the world, like a hungry pack of hyenas. Hungry for laughs they'd never get.
Q. Why didn't the skeleton go to the party? A. Because it had nobody to go with
Tim's idea of a conversation was to sit you down and tell you every bad joke he could think of. I'd laugh, weakly, at these pathetic attempts at humour, but it only encouraged him.
Q. Why did the chicken cross the playground? A. To get to the other slide
He made a habit of roaming the main street with a video camera, pretending to film for a variety show. He'd ask people to tell him all the bad jokes they knew and then go home and watch the video. I'd find him in his room rolling around, clutching his stomach and almost wetting himself because he was laughing so hard.
Q. Why did the chewing gum cross the road? A. Because it was stuck to the chicken
The weird thing was that Tim was actually pretty funny. He had a dry wit that could cut you in half. His mother refused to argue with him because she'd end up in stitches on the kitchen floor.
Q. What's yellow and dangerous? A. Shark infested custard
Tim never really realized how funny he actually was. He'd tell you yet another bad joke and follow it up with one of his trademark comments and then you'd laugh. Of course, he thought you were laughing at the joke.
Q. What's black and white? A. A koala in a magpie suit
His father died from lung cancer when he was seven and his little sister was hit by a car on the way home from school when he was nine. He said the jokes helped him keep smiling. But he could have liked ones that were actually funny. The bad jokes thing always had me puzzled.
Q. Why did the koala fall out of the tree? A. Because someone threw a fridge at it
I met Tim the day after my eighth birthday. My best mate had moved away and I felt like I didn't have a friend in the world. Then Tim moved in around the corner.
Q. What did the big chimney say to the little chimney? A. You're too young to be smoking
He got really sick not long after he turned fourteen. He was in and out of hospital all year, getting tests done, talking to specialists. They found a malignant tumor in his brain. My best friend was dying.
Q. What did the dog say to the other dog? A. Nothing. Dogs can't talk
He fell into a coma six months later and never woke up. He died in the middle of the night, with his mother by his side, the day after my fifteenth birthday, seven years after we'd first met.
Q. Why did the one handed man cross the road? A. To get to the second hand store
I walk past his house on the corner and smile, remembering how it used to be. He wasn't perfect, but he was my best friend. I don't think I'll ever forget how he'd try to smile no matter how bad the situation, how he laughed whenever he could.
Q. Why did the duck cross the road? A. Because it was the chickens day off
Tim loved bad jokes. He couldn't get enough of them. His idea of a conversation was to sit you down and tell you every bad joke he could think of. I put flowers on his grave every now and then and sit and talk to him. I can hear him, laughing and then saying, "listen to this one" like he always did when he had a bad joke at the ready. Sometimes it's like he never left.
Q. What did one wall say to the other? A. Meet you at the corner
I went and saw his mother a few weeks after the funeral. She invited me in and sat me down at the kitchen table with a cup of orange juice and a chocolate chip muffin. Tim and I had the same snack every afternoon after school. She went upstairs and came back with a notebook covered in photographs of Tim and I over the years.
Q. Why wouldn't the cannibal eat the clown? A. Because he tasted funny
She said it was his joke book, a collection of all his favourites. He was going to give it to me for my birthday. I left the house with it in my hand, a book of memories of the friend I'd never forget.
Q. Why did the sand fly? A. Because the seaweed
When I got home I went upstairs to my bedroom and sat on the floor underneath the window. The book was filled with joke after joke, each one funnier then the last. On the last page there was a letter.
These are my favourites, the ones you'll never get to hear. All of these remind me of stuff we've done, things we've said, places we've been. You've been the best friend a guy could have, always sticking by me no matter what.
Happy Birthday mate. I hope you have an awesome day.
There's one last thing. Listen to this one.
What's brown and sticky?
I never did figure it out.