I Started A Joke

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“I started a joke which started the whole world crying,” are the opening lyrics to a Bee Gee’s song I heard last week while watching a movie on Netflix. It’s a melancholy song that reminded me of a lost friendship.

I hadn’t heard this song in a long time, but it got me thinking about that close friendship that had dissolved several years ago. How it happened, I’m not exactly sure, but probably due to a misunderstanding. I’ve never really been able to figure it out or get any feedback from this friend though I’ve reached out to her many times. I still miss her friendship as she was meaningful in my life and my wife.

Some quick backstory so you’ll have some insight. It started as a business relationship as she was new to the area, and I’d been here for several years. I was well plugged into the networking scene and knew people of influence in my town. My initial intention in helping her was to pay it forward. Over my career, so many others significantly contributed to my success by sharing their knowledge and connections. I deemed it only fitting to do the same.

As time moved forward, she began calling me daily and sometimes even more frequently with ideas and asking for feedback on various approaches to expand her business. We’d meet weekly to discuss various aspects of her operation and her marketing plans for rapid growth.

Here are the lyrics to the Bee Gees song I Started A Joke:

I started a joke, which started the whole world crying

But I didn’t see that the joke was on me, oh no

I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing

Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes

And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

Till I finally died, which started the whole world living

Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes

And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

‘Till I finally died, which started the whole world living

Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

Fairly soon, our relationship developed into far more than merely business though we still discussed business. She’d been over to my house many times for wine and appetizers. My wife also found her exciting and funny. We’d share a bottle or two and end up sharing stories of growing up and all the crazy things we did and causing us to wonder how we somehow managed to be still alive.

Though there was never an agenda or deliberate intention on my part, all 3 of us eventually became lovers. She was bisexual. My wife and I would often tease each other about who our friend felt an erotic attraction towards. I still think it was me.

The meaning behind the Bee Gee’s lyrics has to do with someone who has done or said something which wronged another. It was me who somehow, very unintentionally wronged her leading to the end of our friendship. I’m sure that she felt hurt by something I said or did. I only wish she would have been able to call me out on it or at least allow me the opportunity to apologize.

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Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels

There are times in our lives, either due to immaturity or simply because we’re human, that we’ll say or do something that hurts another. There are times when it is intentional out of anger or frustration, and other times it’s merely a misunderstanding. I try to always be quick with an apology even if I’m not wrong. My saying “I’m sorry” is because I’m sorry that I have hurt another regardless of fault.

I’ve had other relationships that have dissolved over the years as I moved about different cities and states. Some dissolved as we no longer wanted the same things, so there was no point in allowing the friendship to continue. But this one still bothers me since I don’t know the “why.”

I’ve come to accept that I never will. It is this line in the song which stings my heart the most.

And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

If only I knew what those “things that I’d said” actually were, I would feel much better.

I’m incredibly grateful for all of the relationships I currently have in my life yet still occasionally think about the ones that are no longer.

Deep, meaningful friendships aren’t easy to cultivate as finding people you want to be with and who in turn wish to be with you is not simple. Hold onto those friendships and be willing to say you’re sorry quickly.


If you’re a friend who has been hurt by another, sure, feel free to dissolve the friendship but let the other person know the “why” as it could merely be a misunderstanding. While you may be feeling hurt by what was said or done, they may also be feeling the pain of no longer having your friendship regardless of whether they deserve it or not.

I started a joke which started the whole world crying reminded me of her, and the good times we shared and how I wish we were still sharing those good times as my wife misses her too. To my friend, all the best in your current life without me as I hope you are living as rich a life as I am. Perhaps one day we will reconnect, “Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me.”

If you’re not familiar with the song, here it is: Bee Gee’s I Started A Joke.


Stephen J. Lalla, LMNOP

Owner Dynamic Image Marketing

The Optimal Life, It’s Not Perfect, Just Better! I’ve been on a many decade’s long quest to optimize my life in all areas and would love to help you do the same.