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Was this joke funny or cruel?
Funny 8%  8%  [ 2 ]
Cruel 58%  58%  [ 14 ]
Insufficient data / it's ambiguous 33%  33%  [ 8 ]
Total votes : 24

Aspie1
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24 Jun 2014, 7:16 pm

First, a little bit of background. When I was 10, my family moved across the country. That's when I was reaching a point where there were things I wanted to buy for myself (mostly video games, processed snacks, and fast food). However, my family was very poor at the time, so the answer was almost always "no". Plus, being the youngest in the family, I always felt like---or maybe even actually was---an "associate member" while growing up. That is, I was allowed to reside in their home and consume their food, but had to accept everything "as is" and effectively had no voice.

One day, I saw a charity car wash, and got really fascinated by it. So my older sister (by 10 years) said she'd get me a job washing people's cars. I was so happy, I was in the best mood I've been in over a year! Instead of having to beg my parents for a popsicle costing $0.79, I'd have a real job, earning money doing simple work, and afford the popsicle myself. (School, homework, and chores didn't count as real work in my mind; they were just "makework".) I immediately had a vision of myself bringing home an envelope of cash (I was unaware of paychecks), handing over a fair share to my parents, then walking over to a 7-11 four blocks away, and buying myself a hot dog and a Slurpee just because I can afford it. (Back then, this snack felt like a luxury, rather than nasty processed crap.) Not only I'd be able to treat myself if I wished, there was even hope of me being promoted to a "full member", because after all, I was helping feed the family. I was even willing to compromise and not work during school hours, provided that I'd somehow be exempt from homework, since after all, I had a job, which is a better life experience than doing worksheets.

So, being an aspie child, I started bombarding my sister with questions about when she can take me to where I can register as a car washer. At first, she kept putting it off for another time, much like a girl rejecting a guy under the pretext of being "busy". But since I was very persistent, she admitted to me that it was all a joke (!). There will not be any cars to wash or money to earn! And I will still be an associate member of the family! I kept my composure, since I got yelled at for reacting inappropriately to a joke last time. But that night, I cried myself to sleep.

So which one is it? Funny joke or cruel joke? I'm willing to take into account all perspectives.

Speaking of jokes, here's one to lighten the mood. (It's not part of the poll.)
Little Johnny comes to school. When his teacher calls on him for a homework answer, he says:
"I didn't do it. I didn't have time."
"Why didn't you do your homework, and why didn't you have time."
"I was busy working. I had to wash Cadillacs. By the time I finished, I just wanted to go to sleep."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I understand you have to help feed your family. It's forgiven this time. But remember that school is your first duty."
"I know," Johnny says, "but what I can do? My mom and dad keep a Cadillac collection, they're at work all day, and they don't trust car washes."
Explanation: Little Johnny initially gave the impression that his family was poor, and that he was washing strangers' cars, when in reality, his family was swimming in cash, and the cars were bought by his parents.

Come to think of it, this joke is pretty old. That's probably where my sister got the idea for hers.



Last edited by Aspie1 on 24 Jun 2014, 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kraftiekortie
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24 Jun 2014, 7:45 pm

You thought you found a way to earn money, to become a "full" member of the family. Your sister's joke was cruel, and in very poor taste. You wanted to earn your own money. Now, all hope is lost because your sister provided you with false hope through her stupid joke.



ASDMommyASDKid
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24 Jun 2014, 8:04 pm

I don't really understand a 20 yr old saying that to a 10 yr old. much less keeping the charade up for a good while. She may or may not have understood the importance to you of having a money-earning job. It is possible that you being 10, she didn't understand you not being OK with associate family member status. Even so, it would still be cruel to make that up and keep it up, so I voted accordingly.



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24 Jun 2014, 8:15 pm

I don't think the joke was funny or cruel. Not intentionally cruel, anyway. Your sister probably just made a glib comment, and didn't realize you'd latch onto the idea. When you kept asking her about it, she put you off in hopes you'd eventually forget about it. When you didn't forget about it, she came clean. I don't think she meant to hurt you, and from your description it doesn't sound like she was even aware you thought of yourself as an "associate member" of the family.



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24 Jun 2014, 8:21 pm

I voted "cruel" as well. It is not right for anyone to bring anyone's hopes up falsely. Your sister had no empathy for you and what life is like for a 10 year old.

And I don't get the Cadillac joke. Right now, I am transported back over 20 years to when people in high school would crack jokes and I'd be standing there blank, saying "I don't get it. This is so dumb." When I met my husband, he would show me Far Side cartoons, and I'd be like, "Why is this funny? It makes no sense." He said, "It's absurd! Absurdity is funny!" He really did have to *teach* me about humor. I have learned a lot, but alas, the Cadillac joke is lost on me.



Aspie1
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24 Jun 2014, 8:21 pm

Thanks for the words of encouragement so far. Well, in a way, I was already helping feed the family. They were getting a child tax credit and additional SNAP benefits (known as food stamps back then) because I lived in the same household. I was aware of both. But I wanted a real job: something to actively help feed the family, and be able to give myself small treats without having to beg for them. After all, a 10-year-old kid can wash a sedan just fine, although probably not something like an Escalade or a Hummer (plus, SUV's were uncommon in the early 90's). I get it: I couldn't do it because of child labor laws, which were never explained to me. But the joke still stinks.

I suppose I could give my sister the benefit of doubt; maybe she didn't realize how unpleasant childhood can be, since she had a much happier time growing up than I did. But 20 isn't 50. A 20-year-old should still remember what it's like to have no income and have to beg for everything, and I mean everything, even a $0.79 popsicle. (Truth be told, my parents occasionally bought a box of store brand popsicles for $1.99, but I didn't find them very flavorful.) Well, whatever; I'm just happy my childhood is gone and will never return.

I added an explanation to the Little Johnny joke, in case anyone wants it.



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25 Jun 2014, 1:08 am

Siblings is all. And of course you were a full member of the family, that was your idea that said you weren't.


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25 Jun 2014, 2:37 am

I had the impression Johnny's parents used him as their slave to keep their cars clean.


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aann
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25 Jun 2014, 5:33 am

I'm with YippySkippy. Your sister said something unintentional, and then once she realized you were taking it seriously, you were already too deep into it for her to step back and excuse herself. She couldn't explain it to you in a way that would make sense to you, so she said it was a joke.

This happens in my family all the time. My son misinterprets what I say, and then I know he cannot accept how I really meant it. Then I'm in an impossible situation. I cannot get out of what I said, and he won't take my explanation for an answer. So actually he is mad for no real reason, and I've hurt him with no way to correct it.

If anyone has any words of wisdom for this, please LMK!



nerdygirl
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25 Jun 2014, 5:43 am

aann wrote:
This happens in my family all the time. My son misinterprets what I say, and then I know he cannot accept how I really meant it. Then I'm in an impossible situation. I cannot get out of what I said, and he won't take my explanation for an answer. So actually he is mad for no real reason, and I've hurt him with no way to correct it.

If anyone has any words of wisdom for this, please LMK!


How old is your son?

A lot of love and communication is needed. Maybe you can talk through the whole thing and figure out where the misinterpretation happened. I know I have had to explain how I hear things, and I've had other people explain how they hear things I say. So, we learn how better to communicate to one another in the future.

Misinterpretations like this happen all the time. Try to assure your son that you didn't intentionally hurt him. But don't disregard his feelings of being hurt. Encourage him toward forgiveness, though, and explain that being bitter about it won't help things.



aann
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25 Jun 2014, 5:50 am

well, we try, but we never get anywhere. The more I try to talk it through, the more he is rigid and insists that I meant XYZ. We do have a better time when my husband hears it and supports me, but it usually stops the conversation rather than being a learning experience for my son. I can only hope that he is learning over time that he doesn't take things like my husband and I do.

Reassuring my son doesn't work. It only draws us deeper into the quagmire. He is almost 13 btw.



kraftiekortie
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25 Jun 2014, 7:42 am

I hope your kid, some day, finds out that rebellion for rebellion's sake is often counterproductive.



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25 Jun 2014, 7:49 am

YippySkippy wrote:
I don't think the joke was funny or cruel. Not intentionally cruel, anyway. Your sister probably just made a glib comment, and didn't realize you'd latch onto the idea. When you kept asking her about it, she put you off in hopes you'd eventually forget about it. When you didn't forget about it, she came clean. I don't think she meant to hurt you, and from your description it doesn't sound like she was even aware you thought of yourself as an "associate member" of the family.


This exactly. It's normal sibling crap. Honestly... if this was the "Cruelest" thing she or any of your sibs ever did YOU ARE SO LUCKY AND I WANT TO BE YOU.

Honestly, I'm not sure how old you are but the healthiest thing is to not dwell on stuff like this. I used to. But I discovered that it it is better when one steps in a pile of sh** to just keep walking rather than turn around, walk back through it, try to wipe it off on a rock, the grass, the sidewalk... oops stepped in it again. Rehashing old stuff just makes a bigger mess. Keep it small, walk through it once, say "f%$# I stepped in it" and then just keep going.



aann
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25 Jun 2014, 8:01 am

Yes! That was the first thing that came to mind when reading the OP. It's been a long time. Holding on to this only hurts you. We need to give people the benefit of the doubt, and here I would say it is hugely doubtful that your sister actually planned to hurt you so terribly. At age 10 you couldn't help getting hurt b/c you didn't know not to take her seriously, but now you can let it go.



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25 Jun 2014, 9:21 am

aann wrote:
well, we try, but we never get anywhere. The more I try to talk it through, the more he is rigid and insists that I meant XYZ. We do have a better time when my husband hears it and supports me, but it usually stops the conversation rather than being a learning experience for my son. I can only hope that he is learning over time that he doesn't take things like my husband and I do.

Reassuring my son doesn't work. It only draws us deeper into the quagmire. He is almost 13 btw.



My ex boyfriend and I had misunderstandings all the time. He would twist what I say or take things literal, I don't know which. It was like I could never talk and I had to work on the skill to not talk or express my thoughts or he would expect it to happen soon. I hate these people lol.

But luckily my ex boyfriend would just think "misunderstanding" and move on. I don't know if he did it on purpose or if it was a real issue he had. I will never know.


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25 Jun 2014, 9:33 am

aann wrote:
well, we try, but we never get anywhere. The more I try to talk it through, the more he is rigid and insists that I meant XYZ. We do have a better time when my husband hears it and supports me, but it usually stops the conversation rather than being a learning experience for my son. I can only hope that he is learning over time that he doesn't take things like my husband and I do.

Reassuring my son doesn't work. It only draws us deeper into the quagmire. He is almost 13 btw.


We went through a period like this with our son--absurdly not about intentions or meanings but about the pronunciation of words!
He was a precocious reader and often had been using a word for some time in his head before it came up in conversation.

For example, when he was five or six he first began using the word "war" but he pronounced it so that it rhymed with "car" rather than "door." When we said, "I can see why it would seem to make sense that it would be pronounced that way, but it isn't and that's just the way English is," he had an EXTREMELY hard time adjusting. I think he still feels that it ought to rhyme with "car" and everyone is just making a mistake!

To the OP, I think Ann and CWA are exactly right. It wasn't a joke at all and calling it a joke was just your sister's way of avoiding admiting that she had said something ill-advised without thinking through the consequences because it amused her in the moment. That's not cruel, it's just a bit thoughtless.

I sometimes have questions about humor, too. A cousin "Liked" and commented on a video on Facebook the other day that just seemed horrible to me--a girl was filmed on her friends cellphone following up on a dare (or something--the context was unclear) to put her behind against an electric cattle fence. The shock at contact made her shriek and fall forward where she lay motionless for a while and when her friend moved forward (the better to film the aftermath?) it was evident that she had fallen face-first into a cow pie.

I just found it vicariously painful and totally unfunny. But I know people who find this kind of thing hilarious. I don't get it, but I know they are not cruel people. I think it's a way of dealing with a kind of anxiety or something. I just avoid talking about that kind of joke or if they say "see all these people fall down--it's hilarious!" or whatever, I just say--I don't get that kind of humor, sorry.