UPDATE: The family will receive friends from 4-7 p.m. Friday, March 27 at the J. Henry Stuhr Downtown Chapel, 232 Calhoun St.

Following up on the news last night of the death of Bill Moore, a College of Charleston political science professor and frequent City Paper source, Nancy Barrood forwarded on this unique remembrance.

WHAT’S SO FUNNY?

Or, You’ll Never Be a Blue Blood in this Town

By Nancy Barrood

Let’s get something straight – I am not a southerner, although I wish I were.  I feel like a southerner, but I have already violated several blue blood rules, the most important being:  DO NOT FALL DOWN LAUGHING IN THE MIDDLE OF KING STREET WHEN DR. MOORE TELLS YOU A JOKE.  Even if it was almost thirty years ago, and you still remember the joke.  And you remember the way Dr. Moore’s eye would twinkle at the punch line and that expectant little smile.  That’s what made you laugh.

I was lucky enough to be a northerner who was acquainted with Dr. Bill Moore through a good friend and real southerner.  Susan and I were both college students majoring in Political Science at the time, and I was in Charleston visiting when she said, “Come and have lunch with Dr. Moore.  He’s a genius.”  So, I was tentatively allowed into a little group of Political Science majors who thought Dr. Moore, then chair of the Political Science Department at the College of Charleston,  was the bees’ knees of poli-sci.

And, genius he was.  I don’t remember a single thing that was discussed, or the restaurant in which we ate.  However, not only do I remember the joke that made me sit down in the middle of King Street, I have told it for the past three decades.  I’m still waiting to meet the one other person in the world who “gets it”.  I remember walking down King Street, Dr. Moore surrounded by his poli-sci groupies, and telling a joke.  Then, the eye twinkle, the punch line, the little expectant smile.  It was all I could do not to pass out from the laugh-so-hard-your-stomach-hurts hurt.  The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the middle of King Street, clutching my stomach and alternately guffawing and snorting (yes, I do that, too when I laugh).  Very quickly, I was surrounded by the women in our group, and they were laughing, too.  Not being a native Charlestonian, it took me a while to figure out that they were trying to cover up my many faux pas.  Also, that weren’t even laughing at Dr. Moore’s joke.  They were laughing at the way I was laughing.

I was lucky again, when, while on a visit to Charleston this past January, my friend and I were walking down Beaufain Street.  There it was.  The Political Science Department building.  Should we?  Why not, I said.  We knocked tentatively, but when I walked in telling Dr. Moore’s joke, the years melted away.  He remembered me!  He remembered the day he made me laugh so hard I fell down, and we had a warm, friendly visit, both promising to meet for lunch soon.   We never got to have lunch together, but I felt honored to have known him.  Yes, he was a genius, yes he was accomplished, but he was also kind, warm and funny.  And, if he told you a joke, you didn’t soon forget it.

On a regular basis, my fourteen year old asks me to tell what has become known as the Oppor-nokity Joke.  Not because he thinks it’s funny.  My son wants to watch me crack myself up at the punch line.  He parades his friends into the kitchen and says “Watch this.”   Shocked and honored that my teenager would even allow me to make eye contact with his friends, I dutifully tell the joke, promising myself that this time I won’t crack up.  But, as I get to the punch line, I see Dr. Moore’s face, the eye twinkle, and I just can’t help myself.  Some people just don’t know a good joke when they hear one.

So, for the benefit of those who respected and admired him, one last joke from Dr. Moore:

The Oppor-nokity Joke

One day, a man called a piano tuner by the name of Mr. Oppornokity to tune his piano.  The piano tuner obliged, was paid for his services and left.  Some time later, the man was seated at the piano and noticed that the lower notes, especially the E, were not holding their tune.  He promptly picked up the phone and dialed Oppornokity’s number, insisting that the gentleman return and re-tune his piano.

“Sorry, no can do” says Oppornokity.

“Why not?” asks the customer.

“Because” says Oppornokity, (get ready for it) “Oppornokity only tunes once!”

It must have been the twinkle in his eye.

Thanks to Nancy Barrood for the terrific story. We’re happy to share it.