Punmaster Jeff

I groan and roll my eyes at puns. So why do I make so many of them?

Recently, while editing a manuscript, I realized how many puns I was making. It wasn’t intentional, yet I couldn’t seem to help myself. Whatever I was writing seemed to naturally lend itself to a pun. Every chapter had at least a few.

I’m usually amused by puns, but I’m more likely to roll my eyes and groan than laugh outright. I appreciate puns, but they’re not my favorite type of humor. So why was I churning out so many of them?

I’m pretty sure I can blame Jeff. When I first started in technical support at my former company, nearly 20 years ago, Jeff was in my new hire class. He was a friendly older gentleman, tall, with wavy silver hair and glasses. He teased me about the dangly earrings I wore all the time. But he quickly distinguished himself by the quality — and the quantity — of his puns.

Jeff was an irrepressible, incorrigible, irredeemable, inveterate punster. He’d shoehorn three or four of them into a single sentence, until we were rolling on the carpet dying of laughter. I know I hurt myself laughing more than once when Jeff was around. The puns came so thick and fast that we didn’t even catch all of them. He was a semi-automatic, one-man pun machine.

I exaggerate only slightly. I have never, ever heard anyone crack puns at the level Jeff did. He was a true pro, a true punster.

Perhaps four or five years after we started at the same company, Jeff passed away.

Perhaps a couple years after that, Jeff visited me in a dream. He didn’t say much. In fact, he didn’t say anything at all. He didn’t even crack a pun. He just gave me a thumbs-up, and a nodding smile of approval. That’s it.

That’s not when I started making puns myself. But I’m sure it’s part of why I make puns now.

This pun’s for you, Jeff.