What a dull world this would be without a little humor among friends. After all, everybody enjoys a good joke – depending on how you define the term.

Back in the old days, it was a whoopee cushion in somebody’s chair or giving an unsuspecting pal a hotfoot. And a call to the local drug store to inquire if they had Prince Albert in a can. If the answer was “yes,” you would tell them they had better let him out before he smothers and then hang up. (OK, maybe you had to be there, but my buddies and I thought it was hilarious.)

But since whoopee cushions are passe and matches are in short supply because smoking is a no-no and most druggists are wise to the Prince Albert shtick, we have had to devise new ways to get our jollies. Like, say, parking an automobile in a space adjacent to a newspaper with a sign on the dashboard reading, “It has been modified to explode on contact. A nominal fee of $10,000 will be collected at time explosive charges are removed.”

It turns out it was all a big joke. The two wild-and-crazy guys responsible for this rib-splitter were attorney Richard Calhoun, a partner in the prestigious Marietta law firm Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun (Wink! Wink!) and Rogers, ably abetted by Dr. Gary Studenic of east Cobb, in whose car the note was discovered.

It seems they like to send each other funny notes. Of course, funny is in the eyes of the beholder. The Marietta and Cobb police departments who were called out to investigate seem to have missed the joke. That might be because they and all law enforcement personnel live in constant dread that one day they may be having to deal with the real thing.

Calhoun owned up to his part in the yuk-yuk, telling the Marietta Daily Journal (I presume after they had recovered their ability to breathe deeply) that the note “was a joke from yesterday afternoon, all over and done” and adding, “I don’t know why they are making a big deal.” Is he serious?

Studenic, who got himself arrested for his part in the bonehead blooper on a charge of reckless conduct, was a bit more contrite. He did the one thing he should have done. He apologized. In a two-page letter, Studenic told the MDJ he understands the seriousness of his actions, including the evacuation of six Marietta buildings and the deployment of Marietta and Cobb police, including the bomb squad and an armored vehicle, among other public safety units.

The good doctor ended his note with an invitation to an “apology and barbecue” for all area police officers to be held at his home in the fall. Not sure if Richard Calhoun is invited or not, but he should pick up at least half the tab.

As for Mr. Calhoun, he wisely adhered to the maxim, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client,” so he brought in Super Lawyer Jimmy Berry from around the corner. Berry is best known for handling death row cases. Why not?

Berry told the MDJ that Calhoun and “the person who ended up getting charged” — ouch! — “are neighbors and they are always pulling pranks on each other.” For example, it seems that neighbor Gary had parked in the law office parking lot of neighbor Richard and a couple of people had complained, so the neighborly thing to do was to write a note along the lines of “Don’t park here or your car will explode” and then go back inside to take photos of your neighbor’s reaction. It must have been a slow day in the legal neighborhood that day.

Mr. Berry expressed regret on Mr. Calhoun’s behalf, “I hope people don’t blow it” — bad choice of words — “out of proportion,” he said and added, “Unfortunately, at this date and time you can’t joke about much of anything.”

Sorry, Mr. Berry, but this situation was not a joke, no matter what the date and time. We are all understandably jumpy these days about random acts of violence and for good reason. They seem to be becoming all too common. In the future, you might suggest that Mr. Calhoun and Dr. Studenic stick to whoopie cushions and the occasional hotfoot and maybe even inquire about Prince Albert in a can and leave the jokes to the rest of us.

As for jokes, as long as there are lawyers, there will always be jokes. To wit: Question: What’s the difference between a lawyer and God? Answer: God doesn’t think he’s a lawyer. And this: Why are lawyers buried 10 feet underground? Because deep down, they’re really not that bad!

Now that’s really funny. And we didn’t even have to call out the bomb squad.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta GA 31139; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.

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