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This piece of oral tradition was handed down to me by a girl I met in high school. Janice moved to my neck of the woods from Maine, and I believe that I was the very first real friend she made. She passed away shortly after high school and I've missed her very much ever since. In my mind, this joke has always been her living memory.

The dirty golf ball is quite possibly the most disappointing joke ever. Every friend I have who has heard me tell this joke groans at the mere mention of it. Much like Fuck you, Clown, the punchline packs more punch with the joke-teller than with the audience, because in the end, the joke's on them. They've endured the entire joke for zero payoff. So be warned, it's long, and there's no payoff. If you read the whole thing and feel cheated, that's WONDERFUL, because that's the whole point. If you wish to add this joke to your arsenal, it's very structured and easy to remember, but it's best told with careful attention to the minutiae, so you should take care that every detail is expounded upon as much as possible. I've shortened my usual oral version quite a bit, but you can be as creative as you like in ad-libbing this joke. And don't forget to have fun torturing your fellow man in Janice's memory.



Once upon a time...
there was a boy who was running late for school. He was hurrying down the sidewalk when he bumped into an old lady. He asked her what time it was and, after giving him a vitriolic stare, she screamed at the top of her lungs, "DIRTY GOLF BALL!" A little taken aback, the boy simply shook his head as if to say, "Whatever." then continued on toward school.

When he got to class, the teacher asked him why he was late. So he retold the story. "I was on my way to school this morning, and I didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball." The teacher looked at him with disgust and disdain. She said, "I'll not have that kind of language in MY classroom. You go straight to the guidance counselor and talk about what you've done."

A little perplexed, the boy gets out of his seat and heads to the guidance counselor's office down the hall. He gets there and has to wait about ten minutes to be seen, but eventually finds himself in a chair by the counselor's desk. The counselor says, "And to whom do I owe this pleasure?" So the boy recounts his story.

"Well, I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she got all kinds of mad and told me to come straight to your office."

"Dirty Golf Ball!" the counselor exclaimed, "I won't tolerate that kind of language in my office. You need discipline. March yourself straight to the Vice Principal's office and let him straighten you out!"

Not knowing what to make of this kind of reaction, the boy got up quickly and darted down the hall to the VP's office. As he walked inside, he noticed that VP was alone, and pounding away at his computer. As the boy sat, the vice principal swung around in his chair and shouted, "And what may I do for YOU today?"

The boy, a little lost for words, began. "I...um...I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she got insanely angry and told me to go to the guidance counselor's office. I recounted the story once again for him, and he almost exploded before sending me directly here."

"Dirty Golf Ball!" shouted the vice principal, "Why I've never in all my career...just...get out of my sight. Go wait in the principal's office. He'll have to figure out a suitable punishment."

The boy, although becoming accustomed to the weird treatment, still didn't understand the reaction he was getting to that phrase. He got up and ambled into the principal's office. Upon finding it empty, he sat and awaited yet another round of questioning.

Before long, the principal strolled in and sat down behind his desk. He had sort of a kind look about him, as if to say that things were all going to be ok. "Son, I'm sure there's just been some sort of misunderstanding. They told me you'd already been through all the other disciplinary channels here, but you look like a good boy. Why don't you just tell me what's been going on.

A little relieved, the boy spoke. "Sir, I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she lost her temper and told me to go to see the guidance counselor. I recounted the story again for him, and he almost lost his cool, sending me to see the vice principal. He heard me out and listened to my story, but then he started shouting too. He told me to come in your office and wait for my punishment."

The principal didn't look quite as shocked as all the rest. He seemed to be pondering it quietly for a few moments. Just then the door flew open and the superintendent of the county school system strode into the room. "What's this I hear about a discipline problem? Is this the boy? Boy, what exactly do you have to say for yourself?"

The boy looked to the principal as if begging for intervention, and then began again. "Well sir, I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and recounted the episode to the teacher, she went berserk and told me to go to the guidance counselor's office. I retold the story once again for him, and he almost got intensely angry before sending me to the vice principal. The vice principal was beside himself in anger and told me to go to the principal's office to await my punishment. I just finished recounting the events to the principal as you came through the door."

"Dirty Golf Ball!" screamed the superintendent. "Boy, I don't tolerate that kind of language in my school system. Come with me, we're having a school board meeting after lunch. We'll let them decide an appropriate punishment."

Once again the boy, extraordinarily confused, did as he was told. He followed the superintendent to his car and rode with him to the county offices. Neither said a word the entire way there. Once they arrived, the boy was escorted down a long hallway and through some big double doors, into what appeared to be an ancient board room. There were old stodgy looking people all around the giant table that nearly filled the room.

The superintendent motioned for the boy to stand in front of a lectern near the head of the table. "Son, recount for all of these nice people the events you recounted for me back at the school."

The boy was extremely nervous. He realized he was starting to sweat. He cleared his throat and then began, "Well... I... I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she got insanely angry and told me to go straight to the guidance counselor's office. I recounted the story once again for him, and he didn't want to deal with it so he sent me to the vice principal's office. The vice principal listened to my story and then got very mad. He told me the principal would have to handle my punishment. After I retold the story to the principal, the superintendent walked in to the office and asked me what my situation was all about. And he got very upset with me, then drove me directly here, I guess so you folks can decide my punishment."

"Dirty Golf Ball!" shrieked one of the board members, "We will NOT tolerate that kind of blatant abuse of language in our school system. I motion that we should permanently expel the boy. All in favor?" Every voice in the room rose in a resounding "Aye". "You are henceforth expelled. You should probably go straight home and tell your parents.

By now completely frustrated, the boy left the room in a whirl. No sooner than he'd hit the door he was running down the street at full speed, toward a home where only trouble could await him.

When he walked into the kitchen, his mother was there baking a pie. She seemed genuinely startled to see him, and a little concerned. "What are you doing home so early sweetie? Is something wrong?"

He blurted it out all at once, tears beginning to rise in his eyes. "Mom, I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she got mad and told me to go straight to the guidance counselor's office. I recounted the story again for him, and he didn't want to deal with it so he sent me to the vice principal's office. The vice principal listened to my story and then got angry. He told me the principal would have to handle my punishment. After I retold the story to the principal, the superintendent walked in to the office and asked me what my situation was all about. And he got very upset with me, then drove me to the county offices to a school board meeting. They all heard my story and voted to expel me from school permanently. I just left there and came straight here to see what I should do."

"Dirty Golf Ball!" his mother cried, "Get your butt upstairs and wait for your father to come home. I can't deal with this. You'll have to answer to him!"

Extremely disappointed in his mother's answer, he moped up the the stairs and slammed the door to his room. He sat and waited for what seemed like forever, but was actually closer to 4 hours.

He'd been lost deep in thought when he heard his door creak open. His father stood in the doorway a moment, then asked if he could come in. "What's the matter son? Your mother seemed very upset. She couldn't even find the words to tell me what was wrong."

"Dad, I really don't want to talk about it again. I'm afraid you'll just get angry with me, just like everyone else has."

"No, boy. Come out with it. I'm sure it will all be ok."

"Well, I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she got mad and told me to go straight to the guidance counselor's office. I retold the story again for him, and he didn't want to deal with it so he sent me to the vice principal's office. The vice principal listened to my story and then got very upset with me. He told me the principal would have to handle my punishment. After I told my story to the principal, the superintendent walked in to the office and asked me what my situation was all about. And he got pissed at me, then drove me to the county office and put me in front of the school board to recount it again. I told them all what happened but they expelled me from school permanently. I came straight home and told Mom about it, but she sent me to my room to wait for you to get home. I've been waiting here, imagining what kind of punishment you have in store for me."

"Dirty Golf Ball!" screamed his father, "You won't go around under my roof defiling my home with that filth! GET OUT! Get your things and get out NOW!"

The boy was shocked. He was speechless. His father stormed down the stairs, muttering in contempt the entire way.

Dismayed, the boy emptied his backpack of all school books (he wouldn't need them anymore), and started gathering a few essentials. Before half an hour had passed he was walking through the kitchen and out the back door, not taking even a moment to acknowledge his father on the way out. He started down the street toward downtown.

As he came into town, it began to get dark. The streetlamps had started to glow their ominous orange glow, and every dark alley seemed to be building its arsenal. As he reached 7th street, a vagrant leapt out of the alley and accosted him.

"What are you doing boy? Shouldn't you be at home with your mommy? HAHAHA!" The man was quite drunk. "You should be...what're ya doin out here anyhows?

"Well, if you must know, I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she got mad and told me to go straight to the guidance counselor's office. I retold the story again for him, and he didn't want to deal with it so he sent me to the vice principal's office. The vice principal listened to my story and then got very upset with me. He told me the principal would have to handle my punishment. After I told my story to the principal, the superintendent walked in to the office and asked me what my situation was all about. I told it all again and he got bent out of shape, then drove me to the county office and put me in front of the school board to recount it again. I told them all what happened but they expelled me from school permanently. I went straight home and told my mom about it, but she sent me to my room to wait for Dad to get home. I waited there, for what seemed like an eternity. When Dad finally got home, I told him my story and he exploded. He kicked me out of the house. Now I'm just trying to find somewhere to sleep tonight."

As the boy was finishing his much repeated speech, a police officer had strolled up. The officer was giving the vagrant a suspicious look, sensing the alcohol. When the bum saw the officer he spoke. "Officer sir... you gotta arrest that boy. He's up to no good. Uh. Yeah, no good.

The officer asked the boy, "Son, is this man bothering you? He seems to have been drinking."

"No it's ok sir," said the boy, "I was just telling him about my day. And trying to find a place to stay for the night."

"What's wrong, son? Why don't you go home to your parents?"

"Well I can't exactly. It all started this morning. I was on my way to school this morning and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she got mad and told me to go straight to the guidance counselor's office. I retold the story again for him, and he didn't want to deal with it so he sent me to the vice principal's office. The vice principal listened to my story and then got very upset with me. He told me the principal would have to handle my punishment. After I told my story to the principal, the superintendent walked in to the office and asked me what my situation was all about. I told it all again and he got bent out of shape, then drove me to the county office and put me in front of the school board to recount it again. I told them all what happened but they expelled me from school permanently. I went straight home and told my mom about it, but she sent me to my room to wait for Dad to get home. I waited there, for what seemed like an eternity. When Dad finally got home, I told him my story and he exploded. He kicked me out of the house. I was just trying to find somewhere to sleep tonight when this guy," he points to the vagrant, "surprised me out of nowhere. I was telling him what had happened as you came upon us."

"Dirty Golf Ball!" exclaimed the officer, "Son, you can't just walk around saying filthy things like that, not on public streets! I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to come with me."

It was in handcuffs that the boy entered the precinct, shuffling his feet, downcast eyes glancing around nervously, dreading whatever was about to come. The officer led him into the holding area, and after fiddling with his keys, locked the boy in the drunk tank. After a few moments had passed, the officer returned accompanied by another man in uniform.

"Son," the officer said, "this is the Chief of Police. I want you to tell him exactly what you told me. He may be able to straighten this whole thing out."

The chief looked him up and down in a kindly way and then spoke, "Son, I don't exactly know what you're doing here. Officer Burris wouldn't have brought you in for just any old thing. But he won't tell me what you did. Says he doesn't want to repeat it. Now if you'll just tell me what's going on, I'm sure we can work all this out for you. You seem like a nice boy."

"Well sir, it's just that every time I've repeated my story for anyone today, it's only gotten me in more trouble. I don't want to be in anymore trouble. I just want a place to sleep tonight. I can't go home, because when I told my Dad the story, he blew his lid and kicked me out of the house."

"Son, it can't be that bad. But I'm in the dark. Tell me your story and I'll see what we can do to put things back on the right track for you."

"Well sir, it all started this morning. I was on my way to school and didn't want to be late, so I stopped this old lady and asked her what time it was. She called me a Dirty Golf Ball. When I got to class and told the teacher that, she got mad and told me to go straight to the guidance counselor's office. I retold the story again for him, and he lost his temper and sent me to the vice principal's office. The vice principal listened to my story and then got very upset with me. He told me the principal would have to handle my punishment. After I told my story to the principal, who didn't take it quite as badly as all the rest, the superintendent strode into the office and asked me what the discipline problem around here was. I told the superintendent my story and he lost his composure, then drove me to the county office and put me in front of the school board to recount it again. I told them all what happened, and they voted unanimously to expel me from school permanently. I went straight home and told my mom about it, but she sent me to my room to wait for Dad to get home. I waited there, for what seemed like forever. When Dad finally got home, I told him my story and he went into a rage. He kicked me out of the house. I was just trying to find somewhere to sleep tonight when this vagrant burst out of an alley and startled me. He teased me about being on the street and I was telling him what had happened, how Dad had kicked me out. About that time, Officer Burris came upon us. He was worried that the bum was bothering me, but I told him my story as well. And he brought me here in handcuffs. And now I've told you. It's your turn to get angry—"

But the chief hadn't heard that last little bit, as he exclaimed, "Dirty Golf Ball! Boy, we can't have that kind of language. It's little boys like you that are what's wrong with society today. You'd better get comfortable in that cell, because unless I'm very much mistaken, you're going to be spending a lot of time in a cell. You're going to sleep the night in the tank, and bright and early tomorrow, you're going to see the judge."

As the chief stormed off, Officer Burris chasing him down the corridor, the boy settled down into the bunk. He couldn't stop the torrential onslaught of thoughts and worries that were plaguing him. This was an absolute nightmare. He lay there for most of the night lamenting his luck, praying for sleep and dreams to come and take all this away, but they never did. He stood up and looked around with bloodshot eyes when he heard the chief storm into the cell block.

"Good morning, Sunshine!" shouted the chief. "Are you ready to explain yourself to the judge?"

The boy didn't answer. He stared at the floor, and when the cell opened, blindly followed the chief. Up two flights of stairs and down a carpeted hall way, through some double doors that reminded him of the awful county office board room, they entered the courtroom. The chief directed the boy into the box on the stand. The judge was already in his place. He stared down at the boy with steely eyes like an eagle, condemning the boy before he'd ever said a word.

"Order in the court!" shouted the judge, "ORDER! Son, recount for me the events of yesterday. In the utmost detail if you please."

The boy tried to speak, choking on his dry, nervous throat. "Ahem...Um, sorry Your Honor.

"OUT WITH IT!" shrieked the judge.

"Um, yes, yes sir. I was on my way to school yesterday and didn't want to be late, but I didn't know what time it was. So I stopped this old lady I met on the sidewalk and asked her the time. She gave me a venomous glare then screamed at the top of her lungs "Dirty Golf Ball". I didn't know what to make of that, or even what she meant. I continued on to school, in a hurry because I wasn't sure if I would be on time. When I got to class, I was indeed late and told the teacher what had happened, with the old lady and all, and the teacher got mad and told me to go straight to the guidance counselor's office. I retold the story again for him, and he lost his temper and sent me to the vice principal's office. The vice principal listened to my story and then got even angrier than the other two. He told me the principal would have to handle my punishment. After I told my story to the principal, who didn't take it quite as badly as all the rest, the superintendent strode into the office and asked me what the discipline problem around here was. I looked to the principal to do or say something, but he remained silent. So I told the superintendent my story and he lost his composure, muttering about discipline in his school system; he then drove me to the county office and put me in front of the school board to recount it again. I told them all what happened, and they voted unanimously to expel me from school permanently. I rushed out of there and darted straight home. Mom was surprised to see me home so early, but in tears I told her about it; but she got upset and sent me to my room to wait for Dad to get home. I waited there, for what seemed like forever. When Dad finally got home, he came to me and asked me what was wrong. I didn't want to tell the story over again, for fear of the repercussions. But he badgered it out of me. I told him my story and he exploded. He kicked me out of the house. I packed everything I could fit in my book sack and headed into town. I was just trying to find somewhere to sleep tonight when a vagrant burst out of an alley and startled me. He teased me about being on the street and I was telling him what had happened, how Dad had kicked me out. About that time a law enforcement officer came upon us. He was worried that the bum was bothering me, but I reassured him I was just looking for somewhere to go. I told him my story as well. That was a bad idea, as he took me to the precinct and put me in the drunk tank. He brought the chief and insisted that I retell it again. I did, and the chief told me that I had better get used to sleeping in a cell. I spent the night in jail last night, awaiting counsel with you."

"DIRTY GOLF BALL! What an OUTRAGE! Of all the filthy, foul, miserable... damned right, you'd better get used to sleeping in a cell! I hereby sentence you to ten years, hard labor." The judge banged the gavel on the bench so hard it snapped in two.




Ten years, how slowly they passed.

Here stood a man, hardened by years of abuse, heartache, and labor. He was no longer the carefree boy of those times past. But his time was up, and he would finally be free of the burden that he had borne for oh so many years.

He marched up the dirt path through the prison yard, chain link fence on either side, and beyond it men he'd come to know as friends. They all wished him farewell and he nodded to each in acknowledgment. As he came to the huge iron gate, the prison guard who was escorting him spoke up.

"Son, you've been here for ten hard years. I like to think after all the time I've known you, that we've become friends of a sort. You were just a boy when you came here, and a kind boy at that. I ne'er seen not even a speck of cruelty or malice in you. I've never asked you, but as I may not see you again, I'd really like to know. What in the ever lovin' hell did you do to get thrown in this joint in the first place?"

"Well, I was on my way to school one morning and I didn't want to be late, but I didn't know what time it was. So I stopped this old lady I met on the sidewalk and asked her the time. She gave me a real strange look, then screamed at the top of her lungs "Dirty Golf Ball". I didn't know what to make of that, but I went on to school, in a hurry because I wasn't sure if I would be on time. When I got to class, turns out I was late after all, and told the teacher what had happened, with the old lady and all. The teacher got mad and told me to go straight to the guidance counselor's office. I retold the story again for him, and he lost his temper and sent me to the vice principal's office. The vice principal listened to my story and got pissed. He told me the principal would have to handle my punishment. After I told my story to the principal, I felt a little bit relieved. He didn't take it quite as badly as all the others, but then the superintendent strode into the office. He wanted to know why I was there, I guess wanting to handle my discipline himself. I looked to the principal to do or say something, but he remained silent. So I told the superintendent my story and went off the deep end, muttering about discipline in his school system; he then drove me to the county office and put me in front of the school board to recount it again. I told them all what happened, and they voted unanimously to expel me from school permanently. I left there and went straight home, hoping my parents could straighten all this out. Mom was surprised to see me home so early, but in tears I told her about it; but believe it or not, she got angry too and sent me to my room to wait for Dad to get home. I waited there, for hours and when Dad finally got home, he came to me and asked me what was wrong. I didn't want to tell the story over again, because I just knew he'd get mad too. But he badgered it out of me. I told him my story and he exploded. He kicked me out of the house. I packed everything I could fit in my book satchel and headed into town. I was just trying to find somewhere to sleep when a vagrant burst out of an alley and startled me. He teased me about being on the street and I was telling him what had happened, how Dad had kicked me out. About that time a cop wandered onto the scene. He was worried that the bum was bothering me, but I reassured him I was just looking for somewhere to go. I told him my story as well. That was really the worst move I made, the icing on the cake you know? Next thing I knew, he took me to the precinct and put me in the drunk tank. He brought in the police chief and insisted that I retell my story to him. I did, and the chief told me that I had better get used to sleeping in a cell. The next morning, I went before a judge and told him the whole tale. He confirmed I would indeed be sleeping in a cell. He gave me ten years, hard labor."

"DIRTY GOLF BALL!!!", exclaimed the guard. "Oh god, just go. I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that. Why the hell would you even tell me that? Just get the hell out of here." The guard pushed him out the door and onto the street, and the huge iron door slammed behind him.

For the first time in ten years, he was free. Free to do as he wished, to indulge in any pleasure that he pleased. And the one thing he'd missed the most being in prison was Coca-Cola. He figured now that he was out, the first thing he really wanted was an ice cold Coke. He walked down the sidewalk about three blocks when he noticed a vending machine across the street, emblazoned with the dynamic ribbon. But more importantly what really caught his eye was the person bent over collecting a can of Coke from the machine. One thought pervaded his mind.

It was the old lady, the one who had ruined his life. She was older and more wicked looking than even he had remembered her. This was it. This was his chance to take his revenge on her once and for all, and perhaps to bring light to the mysterious meaning of those taboo words.

He ran out into the street, making a beeline for her. He was plowed over by a city bus and it instantly turned him into a mushy soup of blood and organs. The old lady, whirled around to see, then with a knowing look in her eye, smirked. She disappeared into the crowd that was beginning to amass.

What's the moral of the story?



Look both ways before you cross the street!

*Rimshot* Wah-Wah wah waaaahhh.
Didn't I warn you? Didn't I say it would suck?
Hey... what are you... Aww, c'mon.
Don't downvote because it sucked!
I told you it was gonna suck! D'Oh!

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