"Shoot them," I said. "Just shoot them. Problem solved."
"What do you mean," the President asked.
"Just shoot the clients," I said. "Shoot johns. Denmark or Sweden — one of those Scandinavian countries anyway, I forget which one — has already taken the first step. They've criminalized buying sex, rather than selling it.
"But if you really want to solve the problem, capital punishment is the only way to go. Lesser punishment's just won't do the trick."
My pun elicited no response. The President just looked at her plate, then glanced back at me, eyes wide, eyes fucking turning themselves inside out.
So much so that it took me a while to realize what I had done, and so I started talking across the table, rejoining a second conversation for a while, before I realized the President of my writer's organization was still staring at me.
The proverbial cartoon light-bulb finally switched on above my balding pate. "Hey," I said, and I reached out to touch her shoulder, "I didn't mean it. I was kidding. I'm actually opposed to capital punishment."
The relief face expressed, the relief from the face of a woman I barely know, must have been palpable three tables away. But still, I thought I should make my position absolutely clear; I joined the group to network, after all! "Really, I was joking. I don't believe the solution to the problems associated with prostitution is to shoot all the johns."
"I'm very glad to hear it," she said. "You really shocked me." And we went on to talk of other things.
And I went on to contemplate the importance of context in any kind of colloquial communication, but especially when it comes to humour.
We all know how easy it is to miss irony and sarcasm online, but it can be almost as easy to miss it face-to-face.
And apropos of nothing in particular except as a reward for your patience with my self-indulgence, when you're safely away from the prying eyes of colleagues at work, you owe it to yourselves to have a look that the ladytits .
Click the cartoon to see the full-size original.