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Welcome to "Przekrój"!

In case you wonder where you are, and especially since you probably can’t pronounce the name of this website, here’s a little help. “Przekrój” (pron. ‘p-SHEH-crooy’) is the oldest magazine about society and culture in Poland. Now it’s also available in English!

“Przekrój” Magazine brings to the English reader some of the best journalism from across Central and Eastern Europe, in such fields as culture, society, ecology and literature. Stand aside from the haste and fierceness of everyday news and join us now!

Przekrój
Our in-house ‘coaching guru’ shares his wisdom – this week on the art of delivering a joke.
2020-04-01 10:00:00
Matthew Coachinger, translated by Joanna Figiel

The Most Beautiful Day of My Life

The Most Beautiful Day of My Life

In order to tell you about the best day, I must first summarize the worst.

Read in 3 minutes

Seemingly, that is objectively, it was a very successful day. I spent it with friends, at a picnic. The weather was wonderful. But right at the start of this al fresco party, I was disturbed by an event (or rather, a lack thereof). Lo and behold: someone said something hilarious, then someone else followed with a funny phrase, and finally everyone laughed out loud. No wonder, they did – it was very funny. Then, suddenly, a wonderful, laconic punch line popped into my head. In a new way, it merged the two previous jokes, showing their hidden aspects, blooming and bursting with numerous meanings. I was about to deliver that royal punchline when someone interrupted me and directed the flow of conversation in an entirely different direction. And I was left behind with this – never born – pearl of mine.

For a moment, I even considered standing up and shouting: “Stop!” After that second sentence, I was to say my punch line – the final, undeniable culmination of centuries of banter! But, of course, I didn’t do it. I just sat there, breathing heavily as I tried to convince myself that it was nothing – just a few words left unsaid.

Instead of quickly forgetting the entire thing, I was imagining – with growing excitement – my would-be chance to shine socially. This made me feel worse with every minute. As if a tall, invisible figure was slowly wrapping me up in their coat. An engrossing tension grabbed me by the throat and burst out of my ears. I felt regret for my lot, and I was simultaneously ashamed of worrying about such a triviality. At the same time, I tried to partake in the fun activities; I even managed to crack a few jokes, after which everyone was shaking with laughter. Still, I could not free myself from the stupid suspicion that they only did it out of pity.

The following day, I got up with the feeling that something terrible, something that’s best not to mention, had happened the day before – and of course, I remembered it immediately. I will not talk about the following few days, because that would be just tedious. In any case, the scar burnt deep into my soul.

But, eventually, my salvation came.

From the start of that day, and it was a Saturday, everything fit together nicely. First, I met a friend with whom I went to the bookstore. There I bumped into a couple of friends and together we went to get ice cream, then on to a café and somewhere else, I think. Anyway, once it began to get dark, and it was one of those dusks thanks to which the world gets brighter, we marched into a restaurant, and there I was seated next to a couple of people. I knew these people well, oh, so well!

Immediately, I could feel what would happen next.

The first person said a funny phrase, like they did at the picnic. The other responded, word-for-word, with what they had said that day. Then everyone, the entire restaurant full of people, looked at me with encouragement, and some even nudged me, because now the time had finally come for my masterpiece. Slowly, I got up from the chair, opened my mouth and for a long, long time I stood there completely speechless, until finally I shook my head and whispered:

“I love you.”

And in chorus, they shouted:

“Happy Birthday!”

And they jumped up high, up to the ceiling, and I jumped with them.

Dedicated to Marek Raczkowski

 

Translated from the Polish by Joanna Figiel

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