Missouri health officials told the people at that crowded Ozarks pool party to self-quarantine for 14 days. Partiers responded by socially isolating the middle finger of one hand from their other fingers.
How I wrote it:
This news story was covered widely so I thought it would be a good topic for a joke.
Often people don’t like to be told what to do, so I thought I’d try to write a joke using my Punch Line Maker #3, asking this question about the topic: “How did those partiers respond to those health officials?
I answered that question using associations of the topic. One handle of the topic is the partiers, who I associated with concepts like “defiant ” and “contemptuous.”
Another topic handle, “self-quarantine,” has associations like “social distancing” and “isolation.”
To create a punch line, one often finds a verbal link between two topic associations and bases a punch line on that verbal link. But in this case I found a link between the associations that’s a combination of verbal and visual: I formed a mental image of a defiant, contemptuous person giving someone the finger and realized that the finger, stuck up there all by itself, was isolated from its neighboring fingers.
So I described that mental image using language that called to mind the self-quarantine mentioned in the topic, thereby creating the surprising link expressed by my punch line.
The news story usually referred to the “Lake of the Ozarks” pool party but I changed that to just “Ozarks” because it was shorter while also being clear and still technically true.