Continuing last week’s inspirational and invaluable column on the importance of avoiding being misunderstood, the “mine” headline is another example of statements that can be interpreted in more than one way.
A man had heard that Boston scrod was a real delicacy. So he flew to Boston, and ordered it at a restaurant. “I’m sorry, we’re out of it,” said the waiter, “can I get you something else?”
“No, I only want scrod,” he replied, and went to another restaurant. They were also out of scrod, so he hailed a cab, and asked the cabbie: “Where does a man go in Boston to get scrod?”
“I’ve been driving a hack in Boston for 30 years,” said the cabbie, “and you’re the first man I’ve ever heard ask for it in the past pluperfect tense of the verb.”
“I WANT to recognize my family,” said an optometrist friend of mine in accepting an award. “My two sons are also optometrists, and I always hoped my daughter would be too. But she had to get married.” When a few stifled giggles from some and a shocked look from others ensued, he realized what he had said, and hastily explained, “No, no, no!” he exclaimed. “What I meant is not that she HAD to get married, but that she wanted to get married rather than study optometry.”
It’s mighty easy to say something stupid, or that doesn’t make sense unless you think before you speak. For example, the nonsensical statement I once made to What’s Her Name, after a funeral that lasted over an hour and a half: “That’s the last time I’ll ever go to a funeral of his!”
When I was about six, on Sunday mornings I would listen to sweet and syrupy old Uncle Georgie read the Chicago Tribune comics to little kids on the radio.
One Sunday morning when Uncle Georgie had finished reading, he thought his mike had been turned off. But it hadn’t. So his next comment went out over the air waves, as he said, “That ought to hold the little #&!%#$%’s until next week!” The next week, it was Uncle Freddie who read the comics.
SOME OF THE unexpected things that come out of a person’s mouth are, of course, intentional. I heard about a production of the play, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” (Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl who hid out from the Nazis during World War II, for a long time, by hiding in her attic.)
A wealthy man had agreed to underwrite all the expenses for the play. In return, he insisted that his chorus girl sweetheart be given the lead role. At rehearsals, she was terrible. Nevertheless, her sugar daddy would not agree to her being replaced, and maintained that she’d be fine at the performance.
However, on opening night she was even worse. Early in the play, a couple of Nazi storm troopers entered the house, and demanded, “Where is she?!”
In an attempt to hasten the end of the play, a man in the audience hollered loudly, “She’s in the attic!”
Which reminded me of Robert Benchley when he was a theater critic early in his career. He was watching a particularly terrible play that took place in the South Pacific. In the second act, the leading lady, a native girl, said, “Me Loona, me good girl, me stay.”
“Me Bobby,” said Benchley, as he got up and left. “Me bad boy, me go.”
THE LAST example is one of my favorites: A woman’s golf tournament, which was played on three separate golf courses, was climaxed by the presentation of the trophy at the banquet, by the local mayor.
“It gives me great pleasure to present this magnificent trophy to Helen Douglas,” said he, “the new City Intercourse Champion.”
Jack Runninger of Rome is a retired optometrist and state and national award-winning humor columnist. His most recent book, “Funny Female Foibles,” is available now.