(Note: the joke I am about to tell was told to me in I am gonna guess about 1990 or so. I wrote this rendition of it approximately 20 years later, in 2010 or 2011 or some time around then. I wrote it on a laptop that got fried when I spilled homemade wine on it, and I thought that the only copy of this was on that laptop, which has been fried for a few years now, and I still haven’t attempted to salvage the hard drive. Anyways I found this yesterday on a flash drive, and I decided to share it. Enjoy…or whatever. — MNW)
This story was first told to me and a group of kids in the “GT” program at school when I was in the third grade, I think. It was told by one of my fellow students.
I think I was in the third grade then, or maybe the fourth. While I have embellished certain parts of the story here, I have done my best to keep its original spirit intact. Everything in this preface is true, at least to the best of my memory.
“GT” stood for “Gifted and Talented,” and it was like an advanced reading class, for the most part. I can’t remember a whole lot about it, but I know that on the day “Purple Velvet” was told, our teacher, the elementary school principal, was not present. Her duties as principal had called her elsewhere in the school that day, or something, at any rate we were left alone and told to read quietly. A few in our class did just that, clutching their paperback Tom Sawyers and glaring fiercely at anyone who did anything other than read quietly, never saying anything directly, just glaring fiercely, and occasionally reminding everyone “we’re s’posed t’be readin’, dang it” or just coughing loudly or clearing their throat. And of course not reading, actually, just holding the book open, breaking their fixed stare upon whomever was talking only when looked at directly. And then, after a measured pause, turning the page. For effect, you understand.
The rest of us, the ones who had tried to read quietly but later found ourselves unable to, were telling dirty jokes. After two or three jokes, shocking though they were at the time, even without any actual “cuss words,” a girl who was a year ahead of me in school (the GT class had kids from different grades in it) asked if we had ever heard the “dirtiest joke in the world”. She was giggling when she asked, she was giggling when somebody asked “What joke is that?” and she was giggling when she replied “Purple Velvet”. She giggled when somebody said “Purple Velvet?” and she giggled the entire time she was telling it.
So anyways, without any further ado, here is “the dirtiest joke in the world”. As I mentioned before, I have embellished certain parts, but the basic details are the same. The back story (from above) is true…at any rate, here’s “Purple Velvet”.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, I guess maybe sometime after Nintendo but before Super Nintendo, there was a medium-sized town in a medium-sized state in the Midwest. Right in the middle of Middle Street in this town, right on the corner of Middle and Center actually, where if you turn one way you’re walking down East Middle and if you turn the other way you’re walking up West Middle, up towards Hagerton; right there on the corner, right in the middle of a manicured, medium-sized yard was a modest, medium-sized house. In the house lived a middle class family; the father, while far from being rich, enjoyed moderate success at his chosen vocation (he was in middle management at a mid-sized manufacturing megaplex), enough success at least to allow his wife to stay home in order to follow her passion: helping underprivlidged orphans fill out tax returns and providing legal advice to dumb animals down at the shelter who were scheduled to be “put to sleep.” Hers wasn’t a profitable business in the monetary sense, but she felt that the moderate amount of personal satisfaction she received through her efforts was enough, and her husband, a kind, gentle, humane man who looked upon anything his wife did with a calm, adoring detachment; he smiled and said “that’s fine, that’s fine” when she would prattle on for what seemed like hours about how it wasn’t right to execute an animal if the animal didn’t understand why it was being executed, or how those “little bastards” would stick every penny they owed Uncle Sam in their grubby little pockets if you let them.
These two average middle Americans had a son. As you may have already guessed, their son was of medium height, medium build, and medium intelligence. He was in the third grade in his elementary school, and he made average grades and never got in trouble. His parents loved him, and did their best to raise him right, and were proud of him when he tried his best, whether he succeeded or not, and carried pictures of him around with them to show people, and spent time with him and taught him things, and did all the things good parents are supposed to do for their children.
This boy, who was in the third grade, his elementary school was right next door to a middle school. One day at recess, the boy was playing kickball with some of his friends. The ball bounced out of control, and the boy, good sport that he was, went after it.
The ball came to a rest next to the chain link fence that separated the playground from the outdoor area next door where the middle schoolers ate lunch. The bell rang, ending recess. The boy turned around and saw his friends turn and run towards the school building. He turned back around and saw that several middle schoolers on the other side of the fence were coming out to eat lunch. The boy ducked his head and ran towards the kickball.
He made it to the fence and picked the ball up. Without ever looking directly into the schoolyard on the other side of the fence, he started to run back to his school building.
The boy could feel his face turning red as he stopped and turned around. There were three middle-schoolers, two boys and a girl. The taller of the two middle school boys repeated, “Hey, kid!”
The boy said nothing. The shorter of the middle-school boys said, “Hey dumbass, are you deaf or something?” The girl punched him in the ribs and said, “Leave him alone!”
The boy said, “No.”
The taller boy ran towards the fence and grabbed it with both hands, shaking it and making a crazy face. He said, “What did you say, kid? I thought I heard you say something.”
The boy hesitated, then spoke: “I said no.”
“No? No what?”
The boy was nervous, and he could feel his voice trembling. “No, I’m, I’m not deaf.”
“Oh, good then,” the taller middle school kid said. “Come here, I want to tell you something.”
“I have to go back inside–”
“I want to tell you a secret. Just come here a second.”
“You’ll get me.” The boy’s eyes began to fill with water.
“I’m not gonna hurt you, dammit, just come over here a little closer.”
“You’ll get me.”
“Alright, then, don’t come close enough so I can get you. I just want to tell you something, anyways, I don’t want to hurt you, little man.” The tall kid smiled.
The boy stepped closer to the fence. He stopped about three feet away.
“Alright, kid, now don’t repeat this to anyone,” the taller middle school kid said. He turned around to the shorter middle school kid and nodded.
The shorter kid, who was still standing next to the girl who punched him in the ribs, put his hands over the girl’s ears. She struggled, punching and kicking. “Hurry the hell up, man!” the shorter kid said.
The taller kid looked around, making sure no one was watching, then turned to the boy and said, “Purple velvet.”
“Purp–?” the boy started.
“Shhh!” the tall kid interrupted. “Don’t ever say it or tell anybody about it!” The tall kid laughed, and the boy ran back into the elementary school building. He got a quick sip of water and went into his classroom. After putting the kickball away, he trotted to his desk.
He sat down at his desk as the bell was ringing. His teacher, a moderately pretty medium-sized woman of usually mild temperament, strolled into the room and announced that it was geography time. The boy got out his geography book and listened intently to his teacher.
About twenty minutes later, the teacher wrote a few questions on the board and told the students they could work in pairs to answer the questions.
As a result of a recently-enacted disciplinary measure, the seating arrangement in the class was “boy, girl, boy, girl,” so the boy was always (for two weeks now) paired with the bashful blonde-haired girl who sat in front of him. She was a nice girl, he thought, and he tried to be civil with her most of the time, at least when his friends weren’t watching. Actually, the two of them had secretly been “going together” for about a week.
They agreed that she would look for the answer to number one, and he would look for the answer to number two, then they’d look for the answer to number three together. When they were finished with number three, but before they copied each other’s answers for the first two questions, the girl looked at him.
He looked back at her. She was looking at him with sort of a dumb grin on her face. It was a bit disturbing, really.
“What?” the boy said.
“You are brave, talking to those middle schoolers like that.”
“Pff. Let me see number one. Here’s two.”
“They always say mean things to me,” the girl said. “I’m ascared of them.”
“Ascared?” the boy asked. He had never heard somebody say “ascared” in real life before.
“One of them said something to you, like a secret.”
“What did he say? Tell me!”
“It was nothing, really, but he told me not to tell anyone.”
“If you don’t tell me, I’ll tell everybody we’re going together.”
The boy looked at her. She wasn’t kidding.
“Fine. Purple velvet. The tall kid said, ‘purple velvet.'” The boy resumed copying the girl’s answer to question 1.
The girl said nothing. She continued to gaze wide-eyed at the boy, but a subtle change came over her face; there was a troubled look in her eyebrows, and her bottom lip was trembling. Her eyes appeared to be welling with tears. “W-what?” she asked.
The boy, busy copying her answer to question 1, was oblivious to her initial reaction. He repeated, “Purple velvet. The tall middle school kid said ‘purple velvet’ and told me not to tell anybody. I don’t see what the big deal is, really. What’s so bad about purple velvet? He must’ve been trying to trick me. Purple velvet. Ha! Purple velvet!”
A low moan came from the girl, and the boy looked up as tears spilled down her cheeks. “Don’t say that, don’t ever say that,” she sobbed. “Don’t say it, don’t never say it,” she started mumbling, over and over. She fell out of her desk backwards, scrambling to get away from the boy, then started scooting herself backwards across the floor, away from the boy. “Don’t never don’t ever never never–” She was genuinely horrified, too horrified to stand up or even to scream.
The boy watched, bewildered, as the horrified girl scooted backwards into a coat rack and knocked it over. She gained some sense of herself again and tried to stand up among the coats. She fell down on the pile of coats and began wailing loudly.
The boy looked away from his horrified geography partner and saw his teacher looking at the girl, trying to figure out what had happened and looking like she wasn’t sure of how to deal with the wailing little blonde girl who had just unexpectedly knocked over the coat rack and seemed to be having some sort of epileptic fit. The teacher looked at the boy, and he looked down at his desk. He kept his eyes down but scanned the room around him. All the children, boys and girls, who sat near enough to hear what he had said were gazing at him with the same look of abject terror that was on the face of the blonde girl. He resumed copying the answer to number one as the clipped footsteps advanced on him, and he only put his pencil down after he felt his ear twist.
He was led into the hall by his teacher, who apparently was very angry with him. She knelt in front of him, at his eye level, and asked, “Why is that little girl in there so upset? What did you do to her to make her so upset?”
The boy, confused, said, “I didn’t do anything to her, Miss–”
“You obviously did SOMETHING, now, didn’t you?”
“I just said ‘purple velvet’ was all. I was on the playground and some middle school kids said ‘hey kid, come here’ and–”
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” the teacher boomed. She was shaking with rage.
The boy remained silent. His lower lip was trembling now.
“That’s what I thought you said.” The teacher grabbed the boy by the collar and dragged him to the principal’s office. She dragged the boy right past the receptionist and sat him down in a rolling chair right in front of the principal’s desk. The principal was just finishing his morning coffee and honey bun, and was seated behind his desk in a rolling chair.
The principal stood up. “What’s all this?” he asked. “Is this boy in trouble?”
The teacher, flustered, began “H-h-he, h-h-he s-s-said, h-he s-s-s-s–” and burst into tears. The principal, a kind, gentle, humane man who looked upon anything his teachers (mostly pert, young things) did with a calm, adoring detachment, placed what was left of a his iced honey bun on a napkin on his desk, rose, and went to comfort the sobbing, pert young teacher. He led her out of his office and into the waiting area, near the receptionist’s desk.
“You just wait out here, and I’ll go talk to the student, ok?” the boy heard him say.
The principal returned to his desk and sat down. He took a sip of his coffee, picked up the piece of iced honey bun and asked, “So, why is Miss Rottentree so upset out there?”
The boy remained silent.
The principal chewed his honey bun, staring at the boy intently, but not menacingly, and said, “Miss Rottentree, I believe, said that you might’ve, possibly, said a swear word or something?”
The boy remained silent.
“You know, son, I’ve heard a lot of nasty talk in my day, and I’ll tell you something.” He licked icing from his fingers.
The boy remained silent.
“Nasty talk like that, the A-word, the D-word, the S-word, and even the–” the principal paused, then said, disgustedly, “the F-word, people who use words like these only use them because they are too uneducated to express themselves properly.”
The boy remained silent.
“They are not used by decent, upstanding people, son,” the principal said, “and their use is certainly not tolerated in my school.”
The boy remained silent.
“What cuss word did you say, my boy?”
“I didn’t say a cuss word. I know I ain’t supposed to say cuss words.”
“Well, son,” the principal’s tone became more stern, “you obviously said something to upset Miss Rottentree out there.” He stuffed the remainder of his honey bun into his mouth and stared directly into the boy’s face.
“A-a-a m-middle school kid said…”
“Said what?” He chewed the honey bun.
The principal, shocked, spat honey bun into the boy’s face and jumped backwards out of his rolling chair, knocking a framed diploma off the wall. The principal was choking on the honey bun, but seemed to be ok, though quite enraged.
“GET OUT! GET OUT OF HERE!” he screamed, and opened the door. He rolled the boy, chair and all, out into the waiting area. Miss Rottentree and the receptionist were outside, clutching each other, sobbing wildly. “DON’T COME BACK IN THE MORNING! WE DON’T WANT PEOPLE LIKE YOU IN OUR SCHOOL! I’M CALLING YOUR MOTHER RIGHT NOW!”
The bell rang, ending the school day. The boy went straight from the principal’s office to the school bus. No one on the bus would talk to him, and since he sat near the front of the bus, the bus driver, a kindly old woman who was especially fond of children, since she never had any of her own, noticed the boy had been cast out by his peers and inquired as to why. After some prodding, after the driver smiled into the big mirror at him and assured him everything was fine and she wouldn’t get mad, he told her what happened, how the middle school kid said “purple velvet” and–
The bus screeched to a halt and the old woman flung the door open. The bus happened to be crossing a bridge over a shallow creek when it was abruptly stopped, and the driver, in an adrenaline-fueled burst of rage, manually removed the boy from his seat near the front of the bus and hurled him out the door. He hit the grass beside the road and rolled down into the creek. The bus sped away.
The boy crawled up out of the creek and out of the ditch and began walking home. He had about half a mile to go.
He had been walking for about 5 minutes when he saw his school bus coming back down the road. “She’s come back to get me,” the boy thought. He stopped walking and the bus kept coming. Was it speeding up–?
The boy jumped back into the ditch and narrowly missed getting run over. The bus stopped right past him and began to back up. He ran as fast as he could to the woods and found a shortcut home.
When he got home, his mother was waiting on him. She had talked to the principal, and she knew that her son was suspended from school indefinitely but she didn’t know why, because the principal wouldn’t tell her. She was upset, but she assured her son that no matter what happened, she would still be his mother and she would still love him. She calmly asked him what had happened.
“I, I–” he started.
“Go on, now, you can tell me.” She handed him a glass of milk and put a plate of cookies in front of him.
He started crying. He told her that he had been playing kickball, and the ball bounced away, and he went to get it, and a middle school kid by the fence said something to him and told him not to tell anybody, and then his geography partner asked what the middle school kid said, and he didn’t want to tell her but she made him tell her, and then she got all upset and the teacher dragged him off and asked what he said and she said she wouldn’t get mad but then he told her and she got mad and took him to the principal, who also said he wasn’t gonna get mad but got real mad, and then how the bus driver threw him off the bus and tried to run him over.
“Oh my goodness,” his mom said, “my poor baby!” She hugged him and asked, “What did you say? What did the middle school boy say to you?”
The boy, quietly, said, “Purple velvet.”
His mother’s reaction made the others look tame. She cursed the day he was born, destroyed most of the living room and kitchen, and sent him to his room to wait for his father to get home.
His father came up into his room an hour or so later. While the door was open, the boy could hear his mother screaming and crying and thrashing through the house, which seemed to be partially on fire. After his father shut the bedroom door again, his mother beat on the door, cursing wildly.
His father looked confused “Just what in the hell is going on here?”
The boy told the story again, not saying what the middle school kid said. He got to the end, and said, “Dad, I really don’t even know what it means…I’m so confused.”
His father looked at him. “What..what did you say, son?
The boy said, “purple velvet.”
Rage. In the eyes.
“I SAID GET OUT, NOW GET OUT! I WON’T HAVE ANYBODY TALK TO ME LIKE THAT, MUCH LESS MY OWN SON!”
“THAT’S IT, I HAVE NO SON!” his father screamed. He grabbed the boy and threw him through the window. The boy fell ten feet or so and landed in some bushes, unharmed. The front door of his house opened, and his father came out, firing a handgun into the air. “I’LL SHOOT YOU, BY GOD, IF YOU COME BACK!”
The boy ran up the road. He ran and ran and ran, and then he ran some more.
A few hours later, he found an abandoned building to sleep in.
The next morning, he saw that he was not the only person sleeping in the abandoned building. There were several homeless people in here, and the boy was scared. But, since he was more scared of trying to go back home or to school, he worked up his courage and asked a friendly-looking older fellow if he knew where to get something to eat.
The old man wheezed and said, “Hagerton soup kitchen’s right around the corner. They’ll feed ya.”
The boy found the soup kitchen and was ushered to the front of the line by a nun, and he got presented with an extra-big bowl of bone soup, and he got to sit with the priests at the big table in front of everybody.
Halfway through the meal, the priest sitting in the middle, the one with the fanciest robe, dinged on his water glass with his spoon and stood up.
“We have among us one of the most unfortunate souls on the planet, my friends.”
(General rumble of conversation. Someone coughs.)
“This young one, this orphan, who just came to our humble soup kitchen this morning, hungry and beaten down by a world who never wanted him…”
“Sir…” the boy started.
“Whose parents, probably drug addicts or perverts or worse…”
“Wrap it up, would you, Leopold?” the head nun said. Some of the homeless guys chuckled.
“My parents aren’t drug perverts,” the boy said, standing up. “Up until yesterday, they were the best parents ever, but then I got in trouble at school, and then on the bus, and then my mom got mad and sent me to my room, and then my dad came home and threw me out the window and shot his gun at me.”
“What did you do, my son?” the head priest asked.
“A middle school kid said something to me and told me not to tell anybody, but then I told a girl in my class and she got scared, then I told my teacher and she started crying, then I told the principal and he spat honey bun in my face and got mad and rolled me out of his office, and then I told the bus driver, and she threw me off the bus and tried to run me over.”
“You are lucky to be alive, my son.”
“And the worst part of it all is, what I said, I don’t even know what it means.”
“What…did you say, my son?”
The boy looked up at the priest, then around the room at all the homeless people, then down at his soup bowl. He lifted the bowl to his face and drank what was left. He wiped his mouth with a paper towel and said, “Purple velvet.”
He was on the street in seconds. That night, he slept in a cardboard box outside the soup kitchen/shelter, in which there were several empty beds.
The next morning when he woke up, a man in a pin-striped suit was standing next to his box. “Hey, kid,” the man said. He had a funny accent, like he was Russian or something, he had a goatee, and his hair was slicked back. “Get up. GET up.”
The boy mumbled, “Leave me alone, mister,” and rolled over.
The man in the suit said something in Russian and bent down. A few seconds later the boy smelled smoke and his leg felt hot. The Russian had set his box on fire! The boy got up and made sure he wasn’t on fire and the man grabbed him. The man said, in his Russian accent, “You have been asking wrong question, my small friend. You would do well to shoot your pie hold.”
“What?” the boy asked.
The man pulled out a tazer gun and held it to the boy’s neck. “Your face is ask question for nothing, and bacon like fry your small face!”
From behind the man, a cackling laughter arose. Then it said, “Purple velvet! Purple velvet! PURRR PULLL VELLL VETTTT!” It was one of the homeless guys from the soup kitchen.
The man in the pin-striped suit released his hold on the boy and turned around. He tazed the homeless guy. The homeless guy was laughing like mad, shouting the forbidden words when he was able to, through the waves of electricity coursing through his body. The boy watched as the man in the pin-striped suit tazed the homeless man until the battery in his tazer gun was dead. Then the man holding the dead tazer turned to the boy and said, “You watch mouth.” He walked away. The boy thought he could hear him sobbing, softly.
The homeless man, hyperventilating with laughter and, now more than before, reeking of his own stink, was muttering, “P-p-purple v-v-v-velv-v-vet. He hee hee hee!”
The boy walked over to him. “Thanks, mister. That guy was gonna get me, but then he got you instead.”
The homeless man reeled with laughter and rolled on the ground.
The boy asked, “Mister, what is purple velvet?”
More insane laughter.
“I mean, I know what purple is, like a grape’s color.”
Laughter, coughing, laughter.
“And velvet’s like a smooth material, right?”
“P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-PURPLE! Hahahahhahahahhaaaa! HOO HOOHOO HAAA HAHAHHAHAHHAAHAHAHHAHA!”
“Never mind.” The boy sat down and began to cry.
The homeless man continued to literally piss himself laughing for another ten minutes or so. Then he stood up and walked over to the boy, who was still sobbing. “Do you want to know what purple velvet is, sonny boy?”
The boy looked up. “Y-yes. I w-would.”
“Ok, then. You see that window in that building across the way there, that big window, up on the sixth floor, the one with the purple curtains?”
The boy looked. “Yeah, I s-see it.”
“Ok, then. You just go right across the street to that building over there, and go up to the sixth floor. All of your questions will be answered there.”
“Really?” the boy asked, exited.
“Where do you think I found out what it was?”
“You mean you know what it means?” the boy asked. “Why can’t you just tell me?”
The homeless man cackled. “You’re a clever one, sonny boy!” He coughed noisily for several seconds. “But it don’t work like that. I can’t just tell you, you gotta see for yourself.”
“Oh,” the boy said.
“Well, go on ahead over there, sonny! It don’t cost nothing!”
“Ok, thanks,” the boy said. The boy looked up at the purple curtains and started across the street. He got hit by a bus and died instantly.