Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lady Astor

Was there ever such a person as 'Lady Astor'? I'm sure there probably was. I promised you a joke in my next post and this will be it.

Btw, I was reminded of this joke while writing about Julia Child's somewhat odd (I thought!) accent (in my last post, I think I referred to her accent as 'British', but of course she wasn't British, she was American-born), wherein she seemed to be speaking through her nose in just a touch higher than what one might consider a 'normal' speaking voice.

Many years ago - this is not part of the joke, this is just a preface to the joke - I was at an Astros game with one of my dearest bridge friends at the time (Dave Landers, who has since passed away).

It was while we were sitting there, on the first base line and I was busily munching away on my hot dog with everything on it but chili, that he asked me, "Have you ever heard of Lady Astor's visit to the United States and the first time she ever saw a baseball game?"

"No," I responded, and herein begins the joke. Ready? Make sure your mouth is not full of hot dog or accompanying condiment bits when you read the punch line, OK? Fair warning!

It seems that Lady Astor was on an historic visit to the United States, and one of the American consulate's entourage (who had been specifically hired to show her around and be her companion) took her to a baseball game.

She was entranced and had a lot of questions.

Later, she was reported to have said, "It was so exciting! There was this very large field with three pillows on it and men in uniforms of two different colors. I didn't really understand at all what was happening.

But then, one of the men - holding a very large wicket - stepped forward. The man on a high hill threw a ball at him - at him! He (the man holding the very large wicket) swung his wicket at the ball and hit it. Oh, my, but that was exciting! And then, as soon as he had struck the ball, he ran as fast as he could run to the first pillow.

The crowd yelled. I didn't understand quite why they were shouting, but felt their joy.

This happened again and again throughout the game. A man would come up and swing his wicket mightily at the ball thrown at him and then run like the very dickens to the first pillow if he hit the ball. If there were already men at any of the pillows, they would run as fast as they could, as well, to try and get to the next pillow! At times, it almost seemed like they were in a race.

But then the strangest thing happened, and I didn't understand it at all! A fellow came up with his wicket, but never did swing it to try and strike the ball being thrown at him. His wicket was sitting on his shoulder the whole time. He finally just placed his wicket down on the ground and walked to the first pillow. (?!?!?!)

'Why,' I asked my companion, 'did he walk instead of run?' 'Oh,' he responded, 'it was because he had four balls.'

Well, that made perfect sense to me! Having four balls would tend to impede one's progress."

As I said, I was chewing on a hot dog with a bunch of stuff on it at the time, and when Dave hit me with that punch line pieces of hot dog and condiments went all over those seated in front of us.


Tammy said...

lol... ;)

Craig Peihopa said...

Lady Astor WAS real! and it shows how parochial her view of the rest of the world was. Though the main Britrish Royals are certainly well versed in many of the worlds situations they still live in a fish tank it would seem, but way too funny. Four Balls aye!

Barry said...

Glad you warned me, otherwise I might have choked. This was way too funny!

Goldenrod said...

I can still mentally picture Dave and myself sitting at that game when he told me that story. He had an extremely droll sense of humor, and he told the story with appropriate nasal tones. I was TOTALLY unprepared for the punch line!

(PS. I miss you, Dave!)

Tammy said...

I must admit, I'd never heard of Lady Astor before I read this post of yours. I was intrigued, and have spent waaaaaay too much time perusing various sites about her.

One of the more interesting things I found was this...

Lady Astor and Winston Churchill didn't get along very well. One time Lady Astor went up to Winston Churchill at a social gathering and said, "Sir Winston, if you were my husband I'd poison your coffee." To which Mr. Churchill replied, "Madame, if you were my wife I'd drink it."