The other day I was hunched over the breakfast table so miserable, tired, and achy that I felt like I was recovering from a hangover. As I had not imbibed anything stronger than orange juice the night before, this all seemed horribly unfair. I could do little more than stare at my waffle, inhale my coffee, and hope that my head would stop throbbing. It was barely after 7 AM and I had already chalked the day up as a loss.
Ellen and Alex were at the table, too. She was eating a Fluffernutter on a toasted English muffin. He was picking at dry cereal while suspiciously eyeing the Fluff jar. Alex loves marshmallows, but there’s something about Fluff that he doesn’t quite trust. He won’t go near the stuff.
After a long, silent pause, with each of us absorbed in his and her own private thoughts (my thought being, “I hate everything!”), Alex broke the silence with a question that oozed disgust: “Where does that come from?” he asked, pointing to the Fluff.
I replied so quickly my statement surprised me.
“Fluff Monkeys,” I said.
“What?” Alex sputtered, eyes wide.
Then he said: “Noooooo. It does not. It does not.”
Then, a millisecond later: “Does it really? Really, daddy? Daddy. Daddy. Does it really?”
“It really does,” I went on, warming to the idea. “Fluff Monkeys live deep in the jungles of Borneo and explorers go there to look for them.” I wasn’t quite sure where I was going with this, so I sipped my coffee to buy some time. It turned out I didn’t really need to do this; before I finished slurping, the rest of my tale came into focus. “When the explorers see a Fluff Monkey, they poke it with a stick to annoy it.
“Well, as you know, annoyed monkeys throw their poop. And that’s good, because Fluff Monkeys poop Fluff.”
To a six-year-old, there is no better punchline to any joke than “poop.” Alex was in giggle mode.
“So they poop the Fluff and throw it at the explorers. The explorers catch the poop and collect it in wheelbarrows,” I said. “Then the explorers wheel the poop away, put it in jars, and sell it to your mother.”
Ellen feigned the dry heaves as Alex leapt from his chair. He literally fell on the floor laughing.
We had a few more laughs with the Fluff Monkey idea before we all wheezed a tired sigh and got back to eating. By then I was amazed to discover that my headache was gone.
Behold the healing power of nonsense!
So let me open up the floor: What’s the most sublime bit of nonsense you ever told a child?