Say “Gumpy” to Me

I was in the car a few days ago and the Beatles’ All You Need is Love came on the radio. My sons love the Beatles, so everyone was singing along, but I was giggling in my seat so much Hubby asked me what I was laughing at.

Of course, when you describe a book scene to someone who hasn’t read the book, the scene is NEVER as funny, but when I hear that song, I think of one of the final scenes of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s I Shall Not Want wherein a crew of folks, including the heroine, are driving away from a pot-smoke-filled crime scene, high as kites, singing that song. I laughed when I read it, and I laugh when I hear the song and think of that scene.

Vivid writing and dialogue stick in my memory like nothing else – especially from books. I’ve said before that if you mention the word “Gumpy” to me I will totally crack up – all due to this scene:

There was a loud bang, a flash erupted from the gun barrel, and the chicken carcass jumped on its plate.

“Holy mother of God!” my mother shrieked, leaping to her feet, knocking her chair over.

“Dang,” Grandma said, “guess I left the wrong hole empty.” She leaned forward to examine her handiwork. “Not bad for my first time with a gun. I shot that sucker right in the gumpy.”

One For the Money – Janet Evanovich

And then again –

“I shot a chicken once,” Grandma explained to Morelli. “It was an accident.”

I could see Morelli searching for a reply. “Where did you shoot it?” he finally asked.

“In the gumpy,” Grandma said. “Shot it clear off.”

Two for the Dough – Janet Evanovich

I love how scenes and words and moments in books can make me laugh long after I’ve finished them – even, sometimes, long after I’ve forgotten which book it was, but I remember the characters and what they said.

So what scenes in a book have made you laugh and laugh? Is there a word that makes you howl more than “gumpy?”



Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Rachel D says:

    I still laugh out loud whenever I reread “Lord of Scoundrels” at the scene where Dain is showing Jessica the saucy pocket watch to try to shock her and she tells him she was thinking of buying for her grandma.  Classic! Of course then there are the unintentionally funny bits of dialogue that can be just as memorable.

  2. 2
    Christina says:

    There are certain things I associate inevitably with books … for example, Dusty Springfield will now always remind me of the Dempsey clan from Jennifer Crusie’s “Welcome to Temptation” and “Faking It”, as will pineapple-orange juice from the latter of those two books. Not really uncontrollable laughter though, can’t think of any of those moments from off the top of my head!

  3. 3
    Terry Odell says:

    The chicken scene hooked Hubster on Stephanie Plum. And of course,this mention has erased all other funny scenes from my early morning brain, but if I remember a non-Evanovich (and there have been some definite laugh-till-you-cry moments in other books), I’ll come back. But you’ve now given me the equivalent of an ear-worm, thankyouverymuch.

    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist—of Mystery

  4. 4
    Brianna says:

    I always loved a bit in ‘the Blue Castle’ by LM Montgomery, when Valency’s family are talking about a local woman who was bitten by a dog. Someone asks where she was bitten, and is told ‘near the catholic church’ (or something similar). Valency’s family can’t understand why she thinks this is funny, and don’t understand her comment of ‘is that a vital part?’


  5. 5
    Tamara Hogan says:

    The opening scene of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ “Natural Born Charmer,” when QB Dean Robillard encounters Blue Bailey alongside the road, wearing a beaver costume? OMG. Also, later in the same book, I was rolling when Blue told Dean that the expensive boots he was so proud of were probably the gayest boots she’d ever seen.

  6. 6
    Laura (in PA) says:

    That beaver costumer from Natural Born Charmer makes me laugh every time I think about it. Same with the “All You Need Is Love” scene from I Shall Not Want, especially the reaction of the cops that come upon the group in the car. And, now, the turkey scene from All I Ever Wanted.

    I must be a more visual person, because the words don’t stick with me, just the scene in my head.

    I’m sure there are more, I’ll have to think about it. This should be fun reading these comments today.

  7. 7
    darlynne says:

    I agree completely about Natural Born Charmer. Doesn’t Blue’s beaver tail get stuck in the car door, which prompts Dean to ask if she isn’t being a little hard on the beaver? Love that book.

  8. 8
    Cat Marsters says:

    I was laughing myself silly this morning in the shower, just remembering a scene from Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum where Magrat’s baby is officially named. The nervous priest reads directly from a piece of paper and says: “I name you…Esmerelda Margaret Note Spelling of Lancre!”

    “No, you can’t change it,” said Nanny, who as the Royal Historian’s mum took it as read that she knew more than the Royal Historian. “Look at old Moocow Poorchick over in Slice, for one.”
    “What happened to him, then?” said the King sharply.
    “His full name is James What The Hell’s That Cow Doing In Here Poorchick,” said Magrat.
    “That was a very strange day, I do remember that,” said Nanny.
    “And if my mother had been sensible enough to tell Brother Perdore my name instead of coming over and writing it down, life would have been a whole lot different,” said Magrat. She glanced nervously at Verence. “Probably, anyway.”
    “So I’ve got to take Esmerelda out to her people and tell them one of her middle names is Note Spelling?” said Verence.
    “Well, we did once have a king called My God He’s Heavy the First,” said Nanny. “And the beers been on for the last couple of hours so, basic’ly, you’ll get a cheer whatever you say.”
    Besides, thought Agnes, I know for a fact there’s people out there called Syphilidae Wilson and Yodel Lightly and Total Biscuit.

    I can’t even read the My God He’s Heavy the First line without erupting into mad giggles. I’m doing it now.

  9. 9
    Stephanie says:

    As I was reading this post I was on hold listening to this song!!

  10. 10
    Cat Marsters says:

    Hmm, that was supposed to be ‘coming over all bashful’ but you get the gist.

  11. 11
    Carin says:

    The one that jumps to mind for me is “tick check” from Exclusively Yours.  After we went camping my husband innocently told me we needed be sure to remember to do tick checks, which led to a lot of laughter and an explanation on my part as tick check = sex in that book.

  12. 12
    Carin says:

    OH, one more.  Peaches.  One of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books (I think) ruined peaches for me forever.

  13. 13
    Laura Xixi says:

    The phrase “the male gaze” now makes me start laughing uncontrollably, due to a scene in “The Doctor’s Perfect Match” by Irene Hannon. Or any use of the word gaze in a romantic setting.
    Backgorund: I used to attend an all women’s college, where there were a fair amount of people with non-heterosexual sexual orientations. My friends and I had just picked up a bunch of LoveInspired romances to mock at a library bag sale, where we paid $5 for each grocery bag full of books (simultaneously the best and worst idea ever). The first one we started reading aloud was The Doctor’s Perfect Match, and two of us announced they would be the hero and heroine for any dramatic actions. In the first chapter, I believe the phrase “He held her with his gaze” was used, which, when read aloud, immediately translated into “He held her with his gays” for all of us; three of us got up, volunteered to be the hero’s gays, and proceeded to hold the heroine.

    Unfortunately, due to uncontrollable laughter, we never got to find out if his gays met hers, or if he/she undressed the other with his/her gays. But I bet they did.

  14. 14
    ezreader says:

    Whenever I see or hear the word Vaseline I crack up.  It’s from one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books.  Its the scene where the guy is naked and greases himself up to keep Stephanie from catching him.  I loved that scene.

  15. 15
    Diane/Anonym2857 says:

    I can never eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, or even walk down the cereal aisle, for that matter, without thinking of SEP and snickering. LOL

  16. 16
    Ellen Brand says:

    For some reason, I keep cracking up at an exchange from a JD Robb short story…

    Roarke: What’s the cause of death?
    Eve: Vampire bite.
    Roarke: What, that again?

  17. 17
    sugarless says:

    Not quite the same, but I still dissolve into giggles every time I think of “Fucking her ass; saving her life”

  18. 18
    Teri C says:

    Bite Me: A love story by Christopher Moore.

    The whole dang book is hilarious, as previous books by Moore.
    I love all the references to her stripey socks ;)

  19. 19
    Leslie H says:

    I can’t see a “Beware of the Dog” sign without laughing.

    On Terry Pratchett’s Discworld the sign says:
    “Disproportionate Response”

    I am going to call my Punk band that someday.

  20. 20
    MissFancy says:

    Sarah, your “laugh til you pee” moment would be a strong DNF if not a wallbanger for me.  Actually, I’m kind of wanting to wallbang my computer, but I’d regret it later.

    First, you don’t shoot chickens.  You chop their heads off.  Yeah, still.

    Second, when you shoot game birds, you don’t use bullets, you use shot.  And you aim for the head, otherwise you are going to have bird meat riddled with shot—not fun to eat.

    Third, shooting a bird in the “gumpy” with shot probably wouldn’t kill them.  Not right away at least.  It would just render the bird inedible.

    Fourth, (and most important) shooting a bird (chicken, duck, goose, whatever)  with a bullet would likely make them *explode*, partially or fully.  You would be shooting a chicken at close range, not picking them out of the air.  So, big, giant bullet hole. Go look at pictures of people who suicided by shooting themselves in the head if you don’t believe me.

    Total and complete fail.  Or, as I frequently shouted at “Seinfeld”, “Premise untrue=Joke not funny.”

    But to answer your question, the name “Slut Binwalla” from Eddie Izzards “Englebert Humperdinck” bit makes me giggle when I think of it, as does his Sean Connery/Muttley bit.

    thinking78—I’m thinking of 78 ways to murdalize writers who don’t do a lick of research in this unprecedented era of access to information.  It’s seriously shameful, people.  At least Cassie Edwards did some freakin’ research even if she copied it word for word and surrounded her plagairism with Vogon poetry.  Yes, I said it.  Writers (and I know many pros read this blog) who don’t research are worse than Cassie Edwards.

  21. 21
    Kifah says:

    Hey MissFancy,

    As a farm girl who’s slaughtered and plucked her fair share of chickens, yeah, head chopping is one method.  hanging by the feet and bleeding is another.  As to shooting – totally depends on what you shoot them with.  Small caliber weapons make little holes.  Being a paramedic I can also attest to gsw would of various types.  Small caliber handguns – little tiny holes.  Most traumatic childhood memory ever:  being four years old and coming outside to find my dad and the neighbor kids killing the ducks raised for meat by shooting them with a .22.  Very small hole, and basically a guy thing I think.  There were a number of chickens that met their end this way too.  Tasty.  Apparently I fainted dead away and the very handsome Mathew Thornley carried me into the house.  I swore then and there I was going to grow up and marry him.  We moved away eventually, and I met him years later as an adult.  YUM!  I fell down his stairs looking at his butt.  Sprained the crap out of my ankle.  Very embarrassing.  He also had a live in girlfriend who he married.  Er, scenic tour.

    At any rate, the chicken was already dead.  “carcass on a plate”.  Unless you can come up with a method of how to keep a live chicken on a plate.

  22. 22
    teshara says:


  23. 23
    Kaelie says:

    I’m sure if I re-read the Plum series again I’d laugh hard at the scene where the garbage truck pancakes the porche. And then feel bad for said porche.

    Speaking of poultry: another hilarious scene (with a frozen turkey however, not a cooked chicken), is in Blood Rites by Jim Butcher. Everytime I read it I burst into giggles. I’m giggling right now just remembering it. You can’t say that Jim isn’t imaginative in his vampire slaying techniques.

  24. 24
    Lyssa says:

    Sarah, when you mentioned “all you need is love” my mind went straight to that scene..(waiting now for the next book).  I would say my fav. Plumism is not gumpy, but the image of a 80+ year old woman in spandex (anytime I see such a thing I think Where is Lulu and Stephanie? Is there a funeral today?)  And away from those I get snorts when my friend who is working on her doctorate in Entomology, talks about beatles, I think of the infamous Butter bug dinner in A Civil Campaign.

  25. 25
    Laura (in PA) says:

    @teshara:  HA!

  26. 26
    Cat Marsters says:

    Unless you can come up with a method of how to keep a live chicken on a plate.


  27. 27
    Mandy:) says:

    I love that you quoted Janet Evanovich.  I can think of about 10 different scenes from her books that have made me laugh out loud.  I’ll burst out laughing and get the craziest looks from my husband.  Then when I try to explain the scene to him, he just doesn’t get it.

  28. 28
    Donna says:

    Um…Kifah? MissFancy? I’m thinking you’ve totally missed the point of WHY it’s funny, and it’s not because JE was trying to accurately describe how one slaughters a chicken. Oh, well, a funny bone is a personal thing.
    I’m voting for Jasper Fforde’s always clever use of language & the one that always sticks out:  naming Thursday Next’s boss Braxton Hicks. Snort worthy every time I see it.

  29. 29
    Donna says:

    Kifah, so sorry!! Got distracted by very funny side track & missed your wind up sentence. You obviously have a funny bone.

  30. 30
    Miranda says:

    Lisa Livia’s rant in Agnes and the Hitman had me rolling: “You think SHERMAN did damage?! I’ll make him look like the fucking Merry Maids!”

    Three to get Deadly by Evanovich was pretty much hilarious all the way through, with extra points where Steph and Lula put the corpse in the trunk and then tie a rag to the foot that sticks out.

    Best line from Pratchett “If his body was a temple, it would be the kind where they did perverted rituals in the basement.”

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