He couldn’t wait to tell her the joke. It was an old joke, for sure, and he didn’t know what had made him think of it just now, but it was a good one. He had even chuckled out loud while standing in line to pick up a package from the post office. (It was a book, if you must know. Which one? The latest Harry Potter book. Happy now?)
He had repeated the joke in his head during his twenty-minute walk from the post office to their house so that he wouldn’t forget it. The walk home was a twenty-minute walk, which was annoying, especially now, when he was in a hurry to get there. It was always a little annoying because twenty minutes wasn’t not long enough to justify waiting for the bus, but it was still a bit of a hike, he thought.
The average bus wait was 24 minutes, he had spent six months making observations two years earlier, and the bus timetables hadn’t changed since.
Sometimes, though, when he was in the middle of a great book, he waited for the bus because it made his trip home longer.
This time, though, the joke trumped the new Harry Potter, so he walked. And he walked briskly, without the walk ever turning into a run. No, running was not for him.
When he turned the last corner and saw his house, he told the joke to himself one last time, as a dry run, a dress rehearsal. He couldn’t wait to tell it to her but he wanted to make sure he’d get it just right.
When he opened the front door, he didn’t see any lights on in the kitchen so he kicked off his shoes and walked into the living room still wearing his baseball cap and a hoodie. And there she was, cuddled up in the corner of the sofa.
“Hey,” he said.
“Mm-hm,” was her reply.
“Hey, whatcha doin’?”
She waved the book in her hand but didn’t lift here eyes from it.
“Reading?” he said without knowing why.
“Well, what do you think I’m doing, holding a book and all.”
“Hey, wanna put that book away for a second?”
“I have a joke.”
“Wanna hear it? It’s good. Really good.”
“So is this book. You know. Really, really good. Twice as really good as yours.”
“Hah, that was a good one. But seriously, can I tell you the joke now? It’s an old one, though, but it just popped into my head for no reason.”
She didn’t say anything. He took off his baseball cap and threw it on the table.
“OK, here goes,” he said. “It’s my all-time favorite joke. A Hall of Famer. The GOAT.”
She kept on reading and still said nothing. He cleared his throat and then spread his arms, as if to say “ta-dah”. But he didn’t say ta-dah.
“Krhm, do you know the difference between ignorance and apathy?”
“Honey?” he said.
She put the book aside and looked at him.
“Baby, now’s not the right time, I really want to finish this book. I’m in the middle of a big reveal.”
“This will only take a second, though. Do you know the difference between ignorance and apathy?”
She covered her face with her hands and shook her head in frustration.
“Honey, I don’t know – and I don’t care!” she said and picked up her book again.
“Oh, you’d heard it before,” he said and walked back to the hall to hang up his hoodie. He chuckled to himself.
Who cares? No one’s talking anyway
Who cares? Won’t the problem go away
Who cares? Change the channel, stare and sit
Who cares? Does anybody give a shit?
Huey Lewis & The News — “Who cares?”
This is a part of an ongoing series of stories, mostly flash fiction, inspired by 80s pop songs. You can find them all here.