A Twist of Humor

This is a column with a twist of humor. A new column will be posted every Monday.

Location: Newfoundland

I was born, raised, educated, and married in Toronto. I moved to Newfoundland twenty some years ago with my wife. So far nobody has asked me to leave. My wife asking me to leave doesn't count.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Friendly Game of Darts

I look forward to my Friday night game of darts, in the men’s league, down at the club.

It’s a friendly group of guys who play there and they don’t take the game too seriously.

Just last Friday was a good example of this friendly camaraderie.

There were eight teams playing on four boards. 85-year-old Uncle Ron captained my team. The title of uncle was honorary because Ron was an uncle to no one. There was no one who would publicly claim to be related to him in any way.

Ron, to put it charitably, could be cantankerous and argumentative.

We let him be captain of our team out of respect for his age and because he said, “I’m the captain,” and then went on to say that if we didn’t like it we could kiss his hairy old wrinkled butt.

I’m sure this image is as disturbing to you as it was to us.

On this particular night we were playing Ralph’s team.

Ralph is about 10 years younger than Uncle Ron. They don’t get along very well with each other. One of the reasons for this animosity is that Uncle Ron doesn’t see very well anymore and when he adds up the score of his team’s darts he tends to overestimate the score somewhat.

Those of us on his team find this to be an amusing and endearing trait of an elderly man. We of course being good sports and not wanting to embarrass an old man, go along with his little gaffes.

Ralph being impetuous and not very sensitive, makes a fuss over Uncle Ron’s creative adding, and then further exacerbates the situation by arguing with Uncle Ron when he’s told that he’s full of horse manure or words to that effect.

All was going well that night, with the usual kibitzing and bantering back and forth.

Some would no doubt argue that the ancestry of one’s mother and indeed one’s own legitimacy should have been left out of the bantering and they probably would have a point.

As I’ve already written, things were going well when, during a heated discussion of the relative merits of their ancestry and legitimacy that had been precipitated by Ralph accusing Uncle Ron of overly optimistic score keeping for his team, that one of Uncle Ron’s darts somehow found its way into Ralph’s backside.

Ralph squealed like a stuck pig, after which there was a moment of stunned silence, while all eyed the quivering dart in Ralph’s rump.

Uncle Ron broke the silence by telling Ralph there was no need to scream like a little girl over a dart in the backside and if he wanted to see a real wound that was taken without a whimper; just take a look at this. Whereupon Uncle Ron lowered his pants exposing his hairy old wrinkled butt, attached to which was a shrapnel wound that he had received in WW II, while flying as a gunner in a Lancaster bomber.

A collective sigh went around the room.

This was not in reaction to any breach of public modesty, but rather to the fact that most of the people in the room had been treated to this sight and the accompanying stories untold times during the course of their lives.

Ralph pulled the dart out and then went after Uncle Ron with the intention of returning the favour on some part of Uncle Ron’s anatomy. Uncle Ron then proceeded to try and put Ralph’s head into the bull’s-eye of the dart board by way of repeatedly banging poor Ralph over the head with it.

This as you can imagine was a difficult thing to do, because I believe some law of physics as well as Ralph’s head had to be broken for this to have succeeded.

Still, you have to admire Uncle Ron’s tenacity, if not his understanding of physics or anatomy.

By now it should be noted, everyone had joined in the night’s festivities, and except for Ralph and Uncle Ron a good time was being enjoyed by everybody. Because of Ralph’s headache and possible concussion and Uncle Ron’s advanced age they had adjourned to Ralph’s basement for a quiet game of darts and one or three or so rums.

Because of their early departure, they weren’t there when the police came and ended the night prematurely, by way of scooping up the usual suspects, and depositing us in the local jail.

As I’ve already mentioned, I really enjoy my night out playing darts, so you can imagine my disappointment with the fact that next Friday night’s game may be cancelled.

However, what with bail, remands, plea bargaining, lawyers, sentencing and the like, we may not make it for next Friday.

You know how it is.

I hope it’s all resolved quickly, because I so like a good friendly game of darts with the guys.

© Mike Cook 2006

Monday, April 24, 2006

Extra Income

So there I was one day trying to think of ways to earn some extra income so that our son’s orthodontist can send his kids to college, when out of the corner of my eye I saw on CNN a guy in a cowboy hat and boots, clad only in his underwear, singing on a street corner in New York City and amazingly, people (women) were stuffing money into his boots.

Eureka! I thought there’s a job that even I could do. The fact that I had no talent for singing, guitar playing or even standing around looking good in my underwear deterred me not in the least.

It is my belief that mere incompetence should deter no one.

After all, there are many people making a good living doing things they are perfectly incompetent at, such as doctors, lawyers, Presidents, Prime Ministers, plumbers, bakers, mechanics, writers and a whole host of people in other trades and professions.

In the interest of fairness it should be noted that most people in these jobs are competent; however, there is enough incompetence sprinkled around to give people like me hope.

Speaking of people making a good living despite their inadequacies, I toyed with the idea of becoming a politician.

This is a job that I would’ve been imminently suited for as it requires no particular skill, talent, intelligence or experience; but as you might imagine, this is a job in great demand because of its lack of demanding prerequisites; and besides, at the time there weren’t any available in my neck of the woods.

So I thought it was an omen when I saw a singing cowboy in his jockey shorts, in that news item on CNN, getting his boots stuffed with folding money.

Alas, the town council where I live is not as broad minded or as dedicated to free enterprise as its counterpart in New York City, because they banned me from standing around town in my underwear, soliciting money, in return for my singing or not singing, whichever was preferred.

When I pointed out to them that this was hardly fair, because they had most of the plumy jobs (which required the barest minimum of competency) already locked up, they had me and my jockey shorts banned from town altogether.

I was once again faced with the formidable chore of finding a suitable job for myself that didn’t require any skills or talent, and the only thing that came to mind was that maybe I could create one of those reality shows that are spreading like a foul fungus on television.

I took stock of myself and found that while I had most of the attributes needed to create one of those shows, such as a complete lack of intelligence, talent and creativity, I did possess, much to my embarrassment, the one thing that precluded me from being successful with this idea, and that was a pinch of taste.

I’m sure that my faithful readers having my best interest at heart would have counseled me to soldier on thinking that my lack of talent and creativity would overcome my one defect.

However, as many a man before me who has had a great idea, I was stopped dead in my tracks by my wife who had been watching my increasingly desperate schemes with growing skepticism.

It has been my observation that wives have a great deal of skepticism when surveying the husbands that fate has encumbered them with.

She pointed out to me, as only wives can, that I already had a job and because I was capable of doing it, the job apparently required no discernible skills, talent, intelligence and so, as far as she could tell, it was tailor made for me. She said if I wanted to earn extra money all I had to do was work harder at writing and shovel out more of this.

I thought the latter was indelicately put, but the point was taken.

So there you are dear readers. You are to bear the burden of my son’s orthodontist wanting to send his kids to college.

© Mike Cook 2006

Monday, April 17, 2006

Lessons For My Son

I’m writing this column in a damp, poorly - lit, corner of my basement.

The reason I’m writing here is that I’m hiding from my wife, who said to me this morning, “we need to talk.”

This is wife code for - we need to talk about what’s wrong with the husband. Wives seem to have this urge every so often to renovate their husbands, much in the same way they like to rearrange the furniture or redecorate a room.

What usually happens in these circumstances is that a list of the errant husband’s many faults is trotted out and given a thorough examination and amplification. Then a detailed explanation on how “we” can fix these faults is conveyed to the husband in a no-nonsense way.

The wise and experienced husband will nod and say, “Yes dear, I won’t let that happen again” and mumble other appropriate noises when called for. The inexperienced husband will defend himself and will, in his numbed state, reasonably (he thinks) point out to his wife that she too has faults.

The latter action will draw gasps of dismay and howls of commiseration from his more experienced brethren. In the interest of honesty it has to be noted a few guffaws will be heard from the more insensitive members of the brotherhood.

I have a friend who, after he implied that his wife might be less than perfect, was challenged by his exacting spouse to make a list of her faults.

There are no limits to the gullibility and stupidity of some men when dealing with women. As a witness to that statement I only have to tell you that my friend made out the list.

The poor idiot played the part of one of those doomed animals that you see stalked, then pounced on and dispatched with great efficiency by a lioness on one of those gory nature shows.

He’s now a wiser and very much divorced man.

A more experienced husband would have known not to make out the list even on pain of death. Indeed, a wiser husband would have known not to even faintly suggest his wife had faults.

There should be a school where you can send young boys to learn how to deal with women.

I tried to impart to my 14-year-old son some accumulated wisdom, such as: if you want to get along with women just remember to say things like, “yes dear it’s all my fault” and “I take full responsibility for it” or the always popular “yes, you’re right again dear.”

This effort earned me some hard looks and a week of sleeping on the couch.

A wise man will know that when dealing with a cunning adversary, guile and patience are needed. A novice in the minefields of marriage might say this is a faint hearted philosophy. The battle-scarred veteran will answer, yes, but it’s also a much calmer, quieter and safer life.

The main problem, as I see it, is that before marriage men look at their wives-to-be and have no inclination to change them. A woman on the other hand looks at her husband-to-be and sees a life long reclamation project.

With some pride, I must admit that I’ve been a remarkably stubborn reclamation project.

My wife, I must also admit, has been as equally stubborn in “getting me right.”

She did persuade me, years ago, to forgo my brown checked polyester dress slacks that I wore when we first went out together. I also grew a beard when she said it would shorten my long nose and make my weak chin look stronger. She left me with the distinct impression it was either the beard or a bag over my head.

I wouldn’t tell her this, but the real reason I grew a beard was because I’m too lazy to shave every day.

I think I’ll have to stop writing now because my son has come to warn me that she’s on the prowl and will soon be down here.

I tell him he’s a good son and to remember these lessons on how to deal with women as they will come in handy when he’s a grown man like me.

Well I’m off outside, through the basement door, to find a safer hiding place until this urge to redo Mike blows over again.

© Mike Cook 2006