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.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Bear Truth

I don’t know where I’m writing these words. It appears to be some kind of wilderness area or reserve of some kind. The guards or caretakers (I’m not sure which) seem friendly enough. However, things are not what they seem and there are nefarious schemes afoot. I don’t mean to sound mysterious or paranoid so perhaps I should at the beginning.

I was walking down the rural road beside which my house sits, minding no one’s business but my own. The road that I write of wanders peacefully over a wooded piece of Random Island, which is securely anchored in Trinity Bay. The sun was warm on my back and the birds were singing their happy songs and I was thinking the thoughts we all think at such times.

I was thinking how it was entirely the bank’s fault because they gave me a credit card in the first place. Even I would have had enough sense not to have given me a credit card.

In the middle of thinking about suing the bank for malfeasance or malpractice or stupidity I looked up and saw a large black bear sauntering across the road. The bear, sensing an irritant in his universe, stopped and sniffed the air for the source of the irritation.

As I stood rooted to the asphalt, afraid to move, I tried not to look or smell too guilty. The bear was not fooled by my imitation of a tree.

Looking like a hairy wrestler from one of those wrestling shows he charged out of his corner and immediately got me in a half nelson hold. I managed to squirm free and kicked him a couple of times in the groin. That was probably a mistake on my part because the bear became even more irritated and picked me up and body slammed me to the pavement. It looked like I was down for the count. I managed to twist over onto my stomach. Unfortunately the bear was a crafty opponent and ended up sitting on my back twisting my leg. That was when I became aware of the two wildlife officers who eventually got the bear off of me and persuaded it to go back into the woods.

They told me they had seen the altercation between the bear and myself and were deeply disturbed by what they had witnessed. One of the officers told me the bear was probably greatly traumatized by the beating he had suffered at my hands and feet and would need some kind of counseling.

They then informed me they would have to take me into custody for assaulting the bear.

Seeing my look of incomprehension and not being aware that was my normal look they informed me the people population of the area had put great stress on the bear population. They went on to explain that a large and well funded government study using many computer models had concluded that people, not bears, were the source of the ongoing friction between the two populations on Random Island.

It was at this point that I heard a bear chuckling in the woods.

The next day, while out on bail, I took another walk and was on the lookout for chuckling bears, when I saw a metal contrivance with bars. Given the situation with bears on Random Island I assumed it was a bear trap. However, sitting tantalizingly on the floor of the cage were jelly donuts. My stomach rumbled with hunger and I thought what a waste of donuts. I went to investigate further and well… one thing led to another and I found myself in the cage. As I reached down for a jelly donut I felt a sharp pain in my left buttock and then all was blackness.

The next thing I knew I was waking up in the cage with a tranquillizer dart still in me. As the cage was unloaded from the truck I heard one man tell another, “This is the tenth one today, at this rate it won’t be long before Random Island is cleared of nuisance people.”

I wiped the jelly from the corners of my mouth.

So that’s how I got here (wherever here is.) If these scribbles make it to the outside world I fear they will have to be smuggled out with great difficulty and danger. But it is imperative that the people of Random Island be warned to stay away from unattended jelly donuts.

© Mike Cook 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dangerous Journey

So there I was in the middle of a huge electronics store. It had aisle after aisle after aisle of computers, televisions, stereos and other electronic candy. It also had aisle after aisle after aisle of salespeople all trying to be helpful.

I wasn’t long in the store when I noticed a gentleman with a stick who was beating off a group of helpful salespeople. I tried to explain to him they were only trying to be of service to him and meant him no harm, but he was having none of my explanation and continued to flail away.

I left the gentleman with the stick to his determined endeavors and began to wander around the store.

I didn’t get very far into my journey before the bruised salespeople trying hard to be helpful to someone descended on me, all thrusting their cards at me, and shouting their names and telling me to ask for them first if I found anything I liked. I assured them all that I would ask for him or her first.

One doesn’t often see people that helpful anymore. Why, in the stampede to be of assistance to me, some of them giving not a thought to their own safety and only thinking of helping me, broke not a few bones. I told the assembled horde that while I appreciated their enthusiasm I was for the moment only looking. I then went about my browsing all the while feeling a multitude of eyes following my every movement.

It was miraculous! As soon as I laid my hand on a computer, twenty salespeople materialized, all of them wanting nothing more than to be of service. The one who clutched my pant leg guaranteed me that particular model would practically write a best selling novel for me, do my tax return so that I would receive a refund every time and run my household all with the click of a button. He said he was almost positive it would do all those things. The saleslady who had a firm but not unpleasant grip on the seat of my pants told me that was nothing. She was almost certain it would allow me to surf the internet at the speed of light and gather all sorts of useful information. The salesperson who gripped my shirt collar said perhaps he could shave a few dollars off of his commission if I bought the computer from him. That statement caused all hands to leave my body and to immediately latch onto him.

It was explained to me that they needed an emergency sales conference. So they excused themselves and went over behind the televisions.

A loud racket coming from the televisions interrupted my continuing examination of the computer. Apparently there was a violent program on because I heard yelling, punching, slapping, screaming, cursing, and general mayhem. It all sounded remarkably real. In fact the person screaming in pain the loudest on the television sounded exactly like the salesperson who offered to shave his commission. They do wonderful things with electronics today.

I wandered over to the televisions to see what program could possibly be so violent.

What I saw was a very animated sales conference indeed. Before I knew what was happening I was drafted into the conference and soon found myself in the middle of the heated debate vigorously defending my position lest I fell beneath the feet of the agitated participants. The aforementioned saleslady during a momentary lull in the proceedings found the time to rip the seat out of my pants, which again was not an altogether unpleasant experience.

After the sales conference adjourned the salespeople were in no condition to be of service to anyone, which from my point of view was just as well. I too found myself more than a little banged up and I was also in the embarrassing position of lacking most of my pants.

As my appetite for helpful people had more than been filled and I now had a desire to be around people who felt no need to please me, I took myself home to see what my wife was up to.

© Mike Cook 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

Best Intentions

I’ve recently read that ninety per cent of North American homes have at least one remote control for the television and that eight out of ten homes have reported losing it. (There are no accurate figures available for the number of men who have had the remote surgically removed from their paws.)

We have five or six remote controls for various entertainment appliances and at any given time at least half are lost. We also have a universal remote which means it is supposed to operate all our electronic equipment.

This remote was exiled to the depths of the junk drawer in the kitchen after it almost killed my father.

Let me explain this astonishing statement.

The universal remote was supposed to do away with all the others thus making life if not a utopia, at least somewhat simpler.

However, when it was programmed it operated everything except what it was supposed to. For instance, it turned the microwave on and off without a hitch and was more than happy to shut down my computer without the benefit of saving my work.

How it did these things I don’t know, and if it had just stopped there things might not have been too bad; however, as you know things never, ever stop “just there.”

My father and his pacemaker came to visit one day and I made the grave error of using the universal remote. This was an unfortunate decision on my part.

Trying to turn some music on caused the pacemaker to turn itself off. I frantically pushed all the buttons but to no avail. Dear old father was turning bluer by the second while rolling around the floor causing the cat much distress.

Wanting to prevent a catastrophe for father and the cat, I did the only thing I could think of. I vigorously thumped his chest several times with the remote control. It was the first and last time this device worked.

After father regained his color and composure he was a good sport about it all. Sort of. Although I must say he doesn’t visit much anymore and when he does he gathers up all the remote controls and locks them in a closet, all the while eyeing me with suspicion.

As for losing them I’m always looking under, over, behind and in cushions, chairs, sofas, cats, cabinets, tables and dogs.

Speaking of losing remotes big Uncle Bob and his broad bottom sat on the TV remote once and after he extricated himself from the chair he was squashing, the remote was never seen again. I had horrible visions of what might have happened to it but I did not pursue this line of thought very far.

Some things are better left in the realm of the unknown.

These gadgets all have the good intention of making life easier, but as we know, the road to hell is paved with nothing but good intentions.

If you take into account the time wasted in looking for lost remotes and the arguments that ensue before and after they are found, it might be better to give them up and get up off our bottoms and fiddle with whatever has to be fiddled with, manually.

I think I’ll do just that the first opportunity I get. I can’t do it right now of course because there’s a baseball game on, and the news is on. Oh, and that movie I’ve been waiting to see is coming on in a few minutes!

Well, I guess I’d better go and limber up my button thumb.

© Mike Cook 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dying Healthy

So there I was, sitting on the couch, minding my own business, watching the ball game, enjoying a few munchies and beverages when I felt my wife staring at me. I tried to think of things that I might be guilty of; however, I couldn’t come up with any recent transgressions so I felt safe.

The captain of the Titanic must have felt something similar just before the iceberg got in the way.

She was strategically blocking the only door so I couldn’t make an escape. From her superior position on the field of battle she said, “you need some exercise and a better diet.”

I tried to ignore her in the hope that she would go away, but I soon realized that ignoring her would be like trying to ignore an angry grizzly bear in the woods. However ineffective it proved to be I decided to deal with the bear.

“I do?” I mumbled in response through a mouthful of potato chips, while brushing a mountain of crumbs off of my incriminating stomach.

“Yes,” she replied, “if you think you’re dying before you get a few jobs off the “to do” list, well I’ve got news for you.”

Now before you think too harshly of my wife I have to confess that the “to do” list she was agitated about had, somehow, and through no fault of my own, grown to epic proportions.

It was my misfortune that she had just read an article that stated if one ate more fruits and vegetables and exercised moderately, then the risk of dying from heart disease was reduced by something like 20 percent. I say something like 20 percent because the chips I was munching on caused such a loud racket in my ears that I couldn’t clearly hear every word she said.

I responded that according to that logic if you consumed absolutely nothing that wasn’t good for you, combined with plenty of exercise and avoided walking under falling pianos, then your risk of dying from anything would be reduced by about 120 percent. That, of course, would mean not only would you live forever, you also would be owed an extra 20 percent of eternal time.

My wife didn’t take to kindly too my logic which is why, about a week later I found myself trapped on an exercise machine in my basement.

When I say trapped, I mean that literally.

I was lying on the cushioned bench of the machine pushing on some handles that were attached to weights, when I felt my back give out. I couldn’t move. I started to panic. I yelled for my wife to come and rescue me.

She didn’t hear me. At least that’s what she claimed.

I had my suspicions.

After what seemed like hours, I managed to flop myself off the machine onto the floor. I looked like a demented fish trying to get out of a boat. When I finally did manage to reach the floor I sprained my ankle and twisted my wrist.

At least that’s what I claimed.

My wife had her suspicions.

I swear I tried to eat only things that were healthy for me, avoiding anything that tasted good. This, as anyone with half a taste bud in their mouth will tell you, was hard slogging. I also started walking, swimming and various other exercises too boring to mention.

It seemed to me the whole point of this health kick was to die healthy, not happy.

I have to admit that after awhile, I did start to feel better. Then one night my wife and I fell off the health wagon. We were sitting on the couch minding our own business, eating our apples, and watching the news when it happened.

The news is seldom good even in the best of times, but this night it was even worse than usual. There didn’t seem to be one square metre of the world that didn’t have people dying in wars, floods, car crashes, earthquakes, fires, volcano eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, famines, epidemics, various accidents too numerous to mention and of course the odd piano falling on someone’s head.

After the news my wife turned to me with a dazed look on her face and asked me if I would like a snack. I turned my numbed face to hers and said yes.

So there we sat minding our own business on the couch, eating huge hunks of chocolate cake and ice cream followed by a bag or two of chips.

We’ll climb back aboard the health wagon sooner or later, but in the meantime we’ll just have to undo our belts a notch or three.

© Mike Cook