How could you spot the Cubs fans on the Titanic?
They were betting on the boat to win the battle with the iceberg.
That priceless little groaner comes from the vast library of (mostly bad) jokes of Ken Milani.
Aka accounting professor, tax expert, columnist for the local paper, and, of course, the most long-suffering, long-awaiting, always-hopeful Chicago Cubs fan ever. And I mean — ever. He has an 18-inch-high Cubbies Pez dispenser in his office, which itself is a veritable Smithsonian of Cubs memorabilia.
I guarantee that on the night when the North Siders finally beat their 108-year dry spell, many people who love Ken — and that’s a lot of people — thought, Wow. Finally. Ken is redeemed.
But that’s not the most compelling thing about Ken, our Salt & Light profile (p.36).
He is the kind of person you spot walking the halls of Mendoza at all kinds of hours, usually with a stack of papers or tax documents under his arm. When he sees you, he stops, looks you in the eye, and starts telling you something that seems like it is in all seriousness. But here’s what you get:
CUBS used to stand for Completely Useless By September.
Its new meaning is Chicago’s Unbeatable Baseball Squad.
His bad joke makes you pause, and laugh, and become distracted for a moment from wherever your thoughts were racing a few minutes before. You go on your way, and Ken goes on his with his bundle of papers under his arm. No big deal, right?
It seems like a small thing, but there is something deeply humanizing about being told a joke.
Mel Brooks said humor is just another defense against the universe. Ken certainly could fly that as a banner over his life. He has not escaped tragedy; in fact, he lived a parent’s worst nightmare when he lost his son, Adam (ND ’88), in 2005.
In a recent interview for MovePeoplepodcast.com, he reflected on that time of his life. His grief was so profound, he actually lost the ability to speak. Yet Ken has not let the trials of life deny him the ability to care, to connect, to simply get on with it — which in itself can be a monumental task in those times of trial when the seconds pass with the slowness of years.
His faith constantly abides. And his humor constantly abides.
No waiting until next year.