Apples and Lemon Cookies to Remedy a Tapeworm

[The subject is KM. Her words are bolded, mine are not.]

ME: Do you want to tell me the joke first, or how you heard it first?

KM: Um… I think the lead up’s kind of… well, no. No, I’ll tell you the joke first.

ME: Okay.

KM: Okay, so, um, there’s this man who comes back from vacation from… somewhere. The place doesn’t really matter, you can change it from time to time when you tell it. But, uh, this man returns from vacation and his stomach is feeling kind of weird, and he’s not feeling too hot, so he goes to the doctor. The doctor, y’know, checks him up, and closes his door, and he’s like, “I’m sorry, sir, but you have a tapeworm.” He’s like, “Oh my gosh, like, what do I even do… do I take, like, antibacterial medication? What am I supposed to do?” He’s like, “Well, I mean you could wait for it to pass, but that could take who knows how long.” And this guy’s like, “I don’t wanna feel like this forever this is gonna suck, so do you have anything faster?” And he’s like, “Well, why don’t you… we’ll schedule an appointment for tomorrow. And I need you to bring an apple and a lemon cookie.” He’s like, “Okay, fine.”

So he schedules that, goes and buys the lemon cookie, buys the apple, is like, why am I even doing this, this is stupid. So he goes to the doctor, and the doctor’s like, “Okay. Bend over and pull down your pants.” He’s like, “I’m sorry, doctor, what?” And he’s like, “You just have to trust me.” And so, the doctor tells him to shove the apple up his butt, which the man does, and then he waits a few seconds, and then he’s like, “Okay, now you have to shove the lemon cookie up your butt.” He’s like, “Okay.” [Makes shoving noise and hand gestures] He’s like, “Oh, god, that was awful, is that it? Is that it?” And the doctor’s like, “I’m really sorry, but you’re going to have to do this every day for the next six days, you have to do it for a week. But then, on the seventh day, you come back to me and we’ll talk about it. But you’ll also have to bring a lemon cookie and an apple.” He’s like, “Jesus, okay.”

So then the second day he’s like uuugh, okay, that wasn’t so bad. Alright. By the fifth day, he’s like, I am sooo ready just… to die. This is the worst thing. So finally it’s the seventh day, and he’s scheduled his appointment, so he shows up to the doctor’s office with the apple and the lemon cookie like, “Doc, I don’t know if I can do it again.” He’s like, “No. Sir, this is gonna be the last time you’ll have to do this, this’ll be great. Like, it’s gonna be done after this.” He’s like, okay, but the man doesn’t really know what’s different because he still had to bring the apple and the lemon cookie, so finally, the doctor’s like, “Okay. Shove the apple up your butt.” So he does it, and he’s like, “Okay, then the lemon cookie?” And the doctor’s like, “No no no.” And he waits a few seconds, and he waits a few seconds, and nothing’s happening. Finally, the tapeworm SPURTS out of his butt and goes, “WHERE’S MY GODDAMN LEMON COOKIE?” And that’s the joke!

ME: So how did you come across this joke?

KM: This is like, one of my dad’s favorite jokes in his repertoire. He just, like, really enjoys this joke. But actually, he heard this joke, I think, because he had been listening to the radio back when we did that in our cars instead of phone music, or whatever, and so um, there had been, like, a radio contest. And like, you submit a punchline of a joke, and they would select the joke that you got to tell on the radio based on the punchline. And so, the punchline of that joke is, “and the tapeworm spurted out of his butt and said, ‘where’s my goddamn lemon cookie?’” And they were like, “what’s the rest of the joke? We have to hear that.” So that’s how my dad heard that joke.

KM is a white female college student who has lived in Southern California for her entire life. The first time I heard this joke, it happened because I referenced a different joke where a man had to shove fruit up his butt and she thought I was talking about this one. Instead, we discovered that we had two different jokes with the motif of fruit going up someone’s butt. I asked her to tell me the joke again so that I could record it.

When KM had first told me this joke about a year ago, the man in it had just returned from vacation in South America. I think that this has to do with a common fear that many Americans have about illnesses one can get from visiting or drinking the water in South America. I think that this joke is clever, because from the elaborate setup, I expected it to end with the man discovering that the doctor was giving him the wrong advice and a play on words or something would explain the misunderstanding. Instead, the doctor’s advice works, which makes it even funnier. I also think that this joke would be easy to change with each telling of it, whether you were to change the place the man had returned from or the foods that he uses to expel the tapeworm.