by Joe Váradi
This past weekend the family and I went whitewater rafting on the majestic Lehigh River in Pennsylvania, and I was reminded of my first ever rafting trip, late 90s with college buddies from Boston on the Penobscot River in Maine.
On both rafting trips, we had river guides paddle alongside the rafts. Guides play a crucial role on the river, not only to teach proper use of equipment and to get the traveling parties safely down the rapids. They are also there to keep spirits up during what can be a physically and mentally draining departure from the creature comforts of dry land.
In other words, the best guides are also reliable entertainers. And this one guy in Maine — I’ve long forgotten his name but can still picture his bushy dark beard — was a master.
With Freddie Mercurial stage presence and George Carlinesque confidence in his craft, he sidled up to our raft with a few sure strokes of his paddle, and started —without segue or setup — to tell his joke.
This guy goes to see his doctor — he began.
“Doc,” the guy says, “I don’t know what it is, but I’m feeling like shit lately. Please help me!”
“You’re in luck, Dave,” says his doctor. “I have this brand new state-of-the-art diagnostic machine. All it requires is a urine sample and it will tell us precisely what ails you.”
Dave’s eyes light up. He goes off to produce his sample, brings it back to his doctor, who inserts the cup into a slot on the fancy new machine. The device whirs and buzzes, lights flash, and it spits out a slip of paper. The doc picks it up and says “Dave, it seems you have tennis elbow. That will be $100.”
[remember, I heard this joke in the late 90s, when $100 for non-emergency medical expenses was a hefty sum]
Dave is furious. The doctor gives him a second cup and says “Take this home, bring me a sample tomorrow, and we’ll give it another go.”
Dave goes home and devises a plan to embarrass his doctor and his phony machine. He takes urine samples from his daughter, his wife, even his dog, mixes them together. For good measure, he also masturbates into the cup.
The next day, the doc inserts the cup into the slot. The machine takes a bit longer this time, and finally it prints out a much longer slip of paper. The doctor studies it at length, looks his patient squarely in the eyes and says:
“Dave you had better sit down for this. Your daughter is pregnant. Your wife is having an affair. Your dog has fleas. And if you don’t stop jerking off, you’ll never get rid of that tennis elbow …”
If you got a kick out of that, you might also enjoy my poem about bodily fluids: