"Androo," whined Cecile, a French woman who had invited me to lunch but told me I had to leave after my starter because she had someone else coming. "Androo, about what can I write my next blog post?"
"Why don't you translate some Latin jokes into English?"
"That's more your thing. But I do want to write something funny. My posts are all bitterly depressing and hippyish these days."
"Tell a bad joke to some people," I said, "and then write about their reactions. Test the joke on some women. They won't laugh. That's your control group. Then tell it to some men. Men will laugh because they want your body, and because attractive people are assumed to be funnier (and many other things)."
"That's an awful, terrible idea."
"Actually, it's an amazing idea. "
"Yes, you're right. After automatically disagreeing with you like always, I've decided you're right, like always. I wonder why I force us both to act out this charade? But what should the joke be?"
"What's yellow and invisible?"
[Not getting that I'm telling a joke.] "I don't know. What is yellow and invisible?"
[Holding up nothing in his hand:] "This banana."
[Genuinely laughing:] "AhahahaHHAHAhaha! I don't get it. Let's choose a different joke."
FIVE MINUTES LATER
"Androo, what are you doing?"
"Are you taking a photo of yourself pretending to hold a banana?"
"Yes, you are. Take one of me."
FIVE HOURS LATER
SMS from Cecile: "I have been having fun with the joke project. Please send me the photo of me pretending to hold a banana."
Me, by email: "Sure. On its way."
THREE HOURS LATER
Email from Cecile: "
Facebook chat message from Cecile: "I said a BANANA not a freaking ANANAS. Seriously, with a banan it would be just great"
My reply: "Sorry, the Internet is out of bananas."
A BIT LATER
Me: "Okay, here's one with a banana:"
I waited patiently for her response so I could make a final, apocalyptic picture. None came until I got to the school. She had found out which classroom I'd be teaching in, and graffiti-ed my whiteboard.
'BONJOUR LE CLÀSSE, Je m'appelle ANDREW ET J'aime les bananes et Le FRANCE Bien Sûr.'Huh? It's fair to say I was perplexed, especially as I'm sure there's a lot of bad French in there.
TWO DAYS LATER
Cecile published the first part of her side of the story. I wrote to her: "Do you still need the photo?"
She said, "Yes, if it comes with a banana."
So, here it is: