Long ago, while in a teaching position not so far away but growing more distant by the year, I was taken to task by a well-meaning individual, a faculty peer.
I had made a joke in class at the expense of a fun-loving, good-natured female student I had interacted with more than most other students. And, in the course of a performance review some months later, a male student in the class had been interviewed, mentioning this joke in a positive light. In other words, the male used this joke as an example of my likability and approachability in class. But the faculty peer heard it as an error in judgment and wrote up “the incident” negatively in my review.
The joke? Well, the female student had said something a little uncharacteristically “off,” and I asked her if she were a “pineapple blonde . . . you know, blonde on the inside.” Everyone laughed, including the female student, and we returned in fun to that moment several other times. Of course it helped that the “blonde” was actually very bright; I wouldn’t have made the joke about an actually ditzy person. 🙂
The moral of this story: one ought to know when to speak. I’ve made a lot of judgment errors in my life, but this little joke really wasn’t one of them. This “pineapple blonde” later became a great friend and has stayed that way. Our son was in her wedding.
I suppose the sub-moral, though, is that one also ought to know the situation in which he speaks. An over-serious, hawkishly scrutinizing life-context probably isn’t the place to risk a silly joke.