March 5, 2009

Tough Assignment

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 10:16 pm

[Note: portions of this column have been fictionalize so that the Personnel Department would have an excuse to lay off the fact checker.]

The Chief (for you non-journalists, that’s what we pros call the editor) invited me for a bit of balcony time and, before sitting donw, I took a look at the magnificent view from this high up and thought about the figure of speech about “walking the plank.”

“What’s up?,” I asked.

“Your columns haven’t been very funny lately,” he snarled (all editors snarl even when they are having a tender moment with their wife).

I hesitated.

“Come on, hurry up, give me an explanation fast. I have stuff to do,” he snapped.

“The country is in a war which is an eight year old search for WMD’s that do not now exist – nor have they ever existed, for that matter – the country is full of empty houses while the streets are full of homeless people asking for spare change, GM is also panhandling in a corporate sort of way, the stock market is singing the old Chubby Checker song that asks: ‘How low can you go?,’ a girl at the Berkeley Bowl asked for a donation to the San Francisco Homeless Services Coalition, but I had to promise a plug in my next column rather than a donation, and I’m supposed to make things seem funny?”

“That’s your assignment. You seem to understand what you gotta do, so what’s the problem? You’re whining and sound like that old routine done by Eddie Lawrence”

“Well, I, um, . . .”

“Come on spit it out, whazamatta you?” he grumbles

“Well, I don’t think there’s much I can say in a column to give folks a good chuckle when the Prez is going to take troops out of a stalemate and move them to a fight in a country that has never been conquered.” I responded.

“So what’s the problem?” he snorts.

“Well, only Rush and a few dittoheads will think what’s happening to the country is funny,” I say.

“So write about something else, dummy.” he huffs.

With that he dismisses me with the advice: “I expect a wonderfully funny column to be posted by the morning of Friday, March 6, 2009. You choose: either you do that or I’ll have Ilse (she-wolf of the accounting department) prepare a buy-out package for you?”

So I warmed up the computer and started writing.

A man and a dag walk into a bar. The man takes several $10 bets that the dog can talk. He bets ten guys and then puts the dog on top of the bar and asks him about his favorite radio program, Rush Limbaugh’s morning diatribe. The dog says nothing. The bettors grow restless. The guy begs the dog. Nothing.
The people demand their money. He screams, yells, cajoles, and pleads for one good simple declarative sentence. The dog barks and the guy has to pay up.

They leave the bar and the guy throws a tantrum. He ends by asking: “Can you give me one good reason not to beat the snot out of you?”

The dog takes a deep breath and smiles: “Can you imagine how much money we are going to make in that bar tomorrow night?”

Can you read this column and not think of the W. C. Fields quote: “Anyone who hates Dogs and Kids Can’t be All Bad.”

Now the disk jockey will introduce the younger readers to and remind the old folks of just how good “The Old Philosopher,” done by Eddie Lawrence, was. It’s time for us to take the dog for a walk. Have a laugh filled week.

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