The Punchline is "Tuna"
(Excerpt from my autobiography, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON MY WAY TO ARMAGEDDON)
Esther had very long, bright red hair like a Disney character and she might have been almost attractive--if it weren't for two things.
1. She was awful
2. She had no chin.
I mean, just don't look at her in profile. That's what I mean.
I, on the other hand, have a magnificent chin. Consequently, we were foreordained to become natural enemies.
She was Esther Brown. Sister Brown to all JW's.
When her husband died she discovered he was well-insured and she was suddenly very wealthy. Moreso than ever before.
Unlike most of the members of our local congregation, Esther lived the high life. New, sleek cars, sparkly bracelets, and frequent trips to exotic lands set Esther and her daughter apart from mere mortals.
She was, on her best day, awful.
I said, her BEST day.
The daughter was even worse, IMHO.
We were Jehovah's Witnesses and it was 1960. The religion was a wee bit different than today. We could have picnics and parties back then.
Esther Brown threw lavish parties! Big show-offy parties.
I was invited even though painfully shy. (Esther was required to invite EVERY JW, you see.)
I was a wallflower. My best friend, Johnny Santa Cruz was the opposite. He was loud, funny, and knew how to create a vortex in the Space-Time fabric of the Universe.
I sat in his shadow whispering one-liners which he'd repeat and get big laughs. (I played the role of Cyrano.)
I guess you could say I was an apprentice to Johnny, under-study for the role of LIFE OF THE PARTY.
"How does he managed to be the center of attention?"
I wondered scientifically whilst quietly making it my scheme to achieve a breakout performance someday.
These JW parties inevitably devolved into parlor games and I never participated. Too shy.
Sister Esther Brown singled me out. At a quiet moment, she stood in front of one and all and pointed to me and spoke in a "stage whisper" (so everyone could hear).
"If you're not going to join in with the rest of us, Terry, why do you even bother to show up at my party?"
Red-faced embarrassment stunned me.
All eyes on me.
Today I'd have a quick retort--not so back then.
I shrugged like the big schlub I truly was.
However...I plotted revenge...a dish best served cold, as they say.
Shortly after my being "called out", I slunk away and walked home from the festivities. I was pleased with myself and the dish served cold I'd left behind.
Fast-forward a month or so.
Esther Brown, self-important Sister Brown, was complaining about how she would have to sell her house. Oh, how she loved her house--but it had become uninhabitable!
Real Estate agents couldn't even show the house until the problem was solved.
Not until her furniture was moved into storage did an improvement commence.
Sister Brown and her snotty daughter went on a trip to China in the meantime...remaining for a month.
The house sold.
Sister Brown returned--with a NEW HUSBAND!
He was a Chinese Jehovah's Witness.
We all shook his hand (secretly feeling sorry for his destiny.)
Well, can you guess?
He had a strong personality and ruled over his wife with a hand of iron.
She meekly obeyed.
They built a new home.
Out of storage came the old furniture.
A horror of horrors! The old "problem" was back!
You see--there was an incredible STENCH which would not
go away. A sort of Old Testament plague.
Perhaps it was DEMONS!
Professionals were brought in to determine the cause.
Not the sofa.
Not the curtains.
Not the mattresses or rugs or pillows.
That only left the curtain rods...big brass curtain rods with the end pieces removed revealing putrifying contents.
The punch line is Tuna Fish.
Tuna casserole, to be exact.
I think I had read about this in a book or maybe a film.
I can't recall exactly. Maybe I thought of it myself on the spot during the party.
58 years have passed and memory fades, you see.
Our story has a happy ending, of course.
Sister Esther Brown had a long and happy marriage to her second husband, Wang Chin.
Yes! Finally, Esther had a Chin.
And I had my revenge.