First Posted October 5, 2002
Seen on a T-shirt: “Department of Redundancy Department.”
That reminds me of something my son used to say: “Déjà vu all over again.”
Here’s another one, worn by a spry 78-year-old woman with whom
I sat at breakfast one morning several years ago at a craft show:
“What do you mean, ‘Over the Hill’?
What hill? I don’t remember any hill.”
At a craft show on September 7, 2002, Wendi took a nasty spill at 11 a.m., getting out of a portable fold-up chair rated at 225 pounds maximum weight. She lost her balance and fell backward, hitting her head on another crafter’s table behind her, which knocked her out briefly. Then she fell forward and hit her head on the grassy ground, which left her with a minor forehead abrasion. Obviously, I haven’t come to the funny stuff yet.
After the show, Wendi had a terrible headache. We took her to the hospital’s emergency room, where we stayed from 5:25 until 8:18 p.m., mostly just waiting. They ran a CAT scan and some X-rays; everything looked normal. They diagnosed her with a mild concussion and said to watch her for 24 hours. If the headache doesn’t subside, or she vomits or runs a high fever, we should return to the hospital. Fortunately, none of this happened. She recovered just fine.
The funny stuff happened while we were at the emergency room:
I took German in the 10th grade. I was pretty good at it; the teacher said my pronunciation was so good that I sounded like a native German. Too bad I only took one year of it, and I have forgotten much of it since…
But I still recall something funny that I said one morning, as class was about to begin. The bell had already sounded, and the teacher was trying to get everyone quiet. He reminded us that the bell had sounded, and it was time for class to begin.
Quickly, without even thinking, I piped up. “Die Uhr ist kaputt,” I said.
It took a moment for others in the class to figure out that I had said, “The clock is broken.” Finally they began laughing. The surprised teacher laughed too, then replied, “Nein! Die Uhr ist nicht kaputt!” (No! The clock is not broken!)
I may have been good at German, but I was not perfect. One day I messed up and embarrassed myself royally. We were supposed to say the sentence, “Ich habe mein hat vergessen.” (I have forgotten my hat.) I used the wrong word—one that sounded similar but meant something much different. What I said was, “Ich habe mein hat gegessen.” (I have eaten my hat.)
I took Spanish for a couple of years too, and I recall a funny incident from that experience. The word “headache” comes out in Spanish as “mal de cabeza” (literally, bad of the head). We were learning to say “I have a headache” (Tengo mal de cabeza), and everyone got that okay, but when we tried to say “I don’t have a headache” (No tengo mal de cabeza), Miguel goofed and left out the “mal de”. What he said was this: “No tengo cabeza.” (I have no head). Everyone laughed. “¡Pobre Miguel,” the teacher joked, “no tiene cabeza!” (Poor Michael, he has no head!)
This next one came from a missionary to Mexico. Blunders in foreign tongues can be disastrous on the mission field. The missionary was trying to get the congregation to participate in the singing. He meant to say “Canten todos” (Everybody sing), but he used one wrong letter—an R instead of a D—and it came out like this: “Canten toros” (Sing, you bulls!)
A missionary to Norway told me this one. His wife was teaching a group of children the story of the Ascension—how Jesus Christ went up to heaven in a cloud (Acts chapter 1). Now the Norwegian word for cloud is spelled S-K-Y and is pronounced shee. The Norwegian word for ski is spelled S-K-I and is pronounced she. To an American, the words sound so nearly identical that it’s hard to tell them apart. The missionary lady mistakenly used the wrong word throughout the story, unknowingly teaching the children that Jesus Christ went up to heaven on a ski. The children had no trouble believing this because everyone skis in Norway, right? So the missionary lady was unaware of her error until one child asked her a question about it afterward.
This is an old form of humor: phony book titles where the author’s name relates to the title. My dad made up 150 of these once; they can be found at our page entitled Books I Haven’t Read. Meanwhile, here are a few that we came up with ourselves:
It was Saturday, October 19, 2002, and I was busily bagging groceries at the grocery store.
A customer came through with a good deal of produce on his order. Included on the order were some leeks, a large green onion-like vegetable.
“Better not get these near your radiator,” I warned the man. “No one wants leeks in his radiator!”