My 11-year-old niece Taler is a funny kid. I'd almost forgotten what a kickass age 11 is until the other day.

Every weekend, Taler goes to Boise to stay with her mother, whom she worships. Heidi is about my age (a fact that does not fly under my holy shit! radar), very beautiful, and very cool. She married her second husband at Burning Man a couple of years ago. She lives in a house that is just shy of being a commune. She sings in A Local Band Whose Name Escapes Me.

So Taler gets to go spend weekends in this nouveau-hippie commune-like place, and the stories she comes back with are priceless.

When Taler comes to visit, I always make tea. Russian tea, actually - a kind of nasty blend of Tang, instant Lipton iced tea, and some other crap. But it's very friendly to 11-year-old tastes, and it makes her feel kind of special and grown up.

So last Monday night Taler and her dad came down to pick up their dinner. George doesn't have time to cook much during the week and my sister's cooking skills are limited to Kraft Easy Mac, so my mom always makes enough for the whole gang. I saw them driving up, so I put the pseudo-tea water on.

She's a very solemn kid most of the time. She's a reader, like me, so we always sit and chat about what books she's working on. The new Harry Potter was the Hot Topic, and she was kind of pissed that I'd already read it, but we sit there and discuss Dumbledore while our tea cools to a drinkable temperature.

All of a sudden her face lights up.

Aunt Ashley! Tommy taught me a joke! Tommy is her mom's new boyfriend (yeah, that second marriage didn't take).

'Kay, Tay, hit me, I say. I sit back, prepared for some stupid knock-knock joke.

Taler takes a deep breath and gets this look of concentration. guy goes to a doctor. And he says, "Hey doctor, I think I have a tapeworm." So the doctor says, "Okay, I want you to go to the store and bring back two apples and a cookie."

(Taler snickers a little but regains her poise.)

Okay...anyway...the guy comes back and brings the doctor two apples and a cookie. The doctor tells him to bend over, and first he shoves the two apples up the guy's heinie, then shoves the cookie in. Then the doctor tells the guy to come back next week and to bring two apples and a cookie with him.

(I am struggling not to bust up over "heinie", but I manage.) the guy comes back next week with two apples and a cookie. The doctor does the same thing, and tells him to come back next week with two apples and a cookie. This goes on for a lot of weeks.

(Taler pauses, musters up the punchline bit.)

After a lot of time, the guy finally gets tired of having things shoved up his heinie, so he asks the doctor, "Doctor, how much longer do I have to do this?" The doctor thinks for a minute and says, "Okay, I think you're ready. Go to the store and bring back two apples and a hammer."

(By this time I'm actually into this joke for the long haul.)

So...the guy comes back to the doctor and the doctor tells him to bend over, and the guy gets really scared but he wants this tapeworm to go away, so he bends over. And the doctor shoves two apples up his heinie and waits.

(Dramatic pause.)

All of a sudden, the tapeworm sticks his head out of the guy's heinie and yells, "WHERE'S MY DAMN COOKIE?"

And then Taler yells WHAM!!! at the top of her lungs, and I snarf my boiling hot tea.

I fucking love being an aunt.

For more tapeworm hilarity, this is funny stuff.