Tag Archive: joke

In this day and age, anybody who thinks that they know what clichés are automatically assumes that everyone else does, too. The fact is – injurious to some as it may be – a vast minority of the world’s population would not be able to give a satisfactory definition of the word if asked. And, to add insult to injury, this is a very unsavoury situation indeed. However, it would not be better left unsaid.

To find a person who could tell you what a cliché is you would most likely need the accompaniment of either Dame Fortune or Lady Luck, or both, as people of this status are few and far between.

In the not so distant days gone by (previous to my seeing the light of day), I was immediately put in mind of knitting whenever the word cliché was mentioned. Needless to say (no, that’s a pun!), that condition has been corrected. Maybe I thought it was a type of stitch, perhaps a pattern – possibly even the knitting needle itself, retrospectively speaking. But the fact remained: I did not know what a cliché was. And as much as I hate to admit, I speak straight from the shoulder.

As luck would have it, I recently found out that clichés have nothing whatsoever to do with knitting, and vice-versa. This newfound knowledge found me last Tuesday night at the writer’s workshop I attend. I was extremely embarrassed by the ignorance of my cliché-related foregone conclusion – that goes without saying. But not as embarrassed as I might have been, thanks to a question put forward by an elderly gentleman. Rabbit hutches were the main topic for discussion when the aforementioned man asked what a rabbit hutch was, exactly. His errand of mercy enabled me to beat a hasty retreat, and being on the ball, I managed a miraculous escape from the bright and shining faces just in the nick of time… and, believe you me, I was none the worse for wear. Anyway, to cut a short-story even shorter, the man found out what rabbit hutches are. Better late than never.

Subsequent to finding that clichés and knitting are not related in the slightest – and being of a curious nature – I decided to track down the answer to the urgent question: What is a cliché, then?

Words fail to express how this task was easier said than done. This single and semi-precious piece of information I would like to impart to anyone who is in the same predicament I was, cost me some supreme sacrifices and superhuman effort. Needless to say (yes, now it’s a cliché!), I threw caution to the wind, stayed up till the wee small hours of the morning and now I’m white as a sheet. But, being busy as a bee and burning the midnight oil paid off in the long run.

Slowly but surely, after the discussion on rabbit hutches met its untimely end, our instructor instructed us to have an article written in a fortnight – either topical, seasonal or informative. Since I had no theme in mind – and my knowledge of seasons is strictly limited to parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme – I came to the conclusion that my article would have to be informative. I thought this idea to be a diamond in the rough. I could write an article and at the same time save some people the embarrassment and queer consequences I met with due to my ignorance. I could kill two birds with one stone by clearing up the confusion clinging to clichés. Clichés cannot be considered conspicuous by their absence, on the contrary, it is their very presence that wraps them in mystery.

As you might have guessed, the first place I looked for the answer was in the dictionary. Because I did not know the correct spelling of the word, I was immediately confronted with a problem. I asked the nearest person to me at the time – an ex-priest – how to spell cliché.

He said, ‘K-L-E-E-S-H-A-Y, do you agree?’

I agreed to disagree and thought I’d push my luck further. You don’t happen to know what a Kleeshay is, do you, ex-father?

‘Indeed I do, my ex-son!’ he said. ‘It’s a type of dish – rather like a soufflé.’

I put his information to the acid test and checked it out and the closest word it had was Kleeshee – which is a small suburban area in Scotland. I could see that I was not coming along in leaps and bounds in my investigation. I thanked the ex-priest who told me to cease in my untiring efforts as all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I told him my name was not Jack.

Call a spade a spade,’ he muttered.

I waved a farewell.

A woman in the street who looked to me to be of good personality and intense intelligence, was my next target. Could you please tell me how to spell cliché?

‘Do you mean cliche as in the impression made by a die in any soft metal, or, an electrotype or stereotype plate?’

Her French accent confused me and I admitted to being acluistic.

‘No matter,’ she said, rather Frenchly, ‘it is spelt: C-L-I-C-H-E.’

 Thank you very much an bwaynos deeass, I said, and went off to consult my common or garden variety type dictionary. After finding that the lady was perfectly correct, I turned green with envy, but felt hale and hearty because my hectic weekend was over. It was a festive occasion indeed.

There was, of course, a skeleton in the closet, as it were. Cliche had yet another completely different meaning. The book I was researching called it, (amongst other things): stereotyped or hackneyed saying or phrase, for example, thick as a brick. Adjectives – cliché-ridden, clichéd. I turned white as a sheet as the realisation of my fatal deed set in. I figured I’d have to turn over a new leaf, start afresh, begin anew, and all that jazz. It seemed I failed with flying colours. So, pouring a long, stiff drink, I drowned my sorrows.

But, like all happy endings, there was light at the end of the tunnel. The book loaned me the legend: Cliché’s tend to interfere with good writing. However, there was an ‘although’. The ‘although’ was this: They should be employed if ultimately necessary. Those words made me happy as Larry!

Last but not least, here’s some food for thought: a famous writer once said something similar to this: The difference between the correct word and a word that will do, is the difference between lightning and a lightning-bug. I believe it was the late, great Mark Twain who bestowed us with these wise words… or, on second thoughts, was it Samuel Longhorn Clemens? I’ll have to investigate this further. But no matter who said it, I’m sticking to it till the bitter end!

The Sweet End.

© 2010 Wordwurst



5. Honor thy father and thy mother.

That’s pretty sweeping, isn’t it? I mean, when, where, how, why, and for how long?

All the time. Anywhere. By showing them the respect and giving them the dignity they deserve. Because they created you – you owe them everything, including your life. Forever. Amen.

I see. That sounds like a fairly tall order, don’t you think? You also presuppose that a person should be grateful for being brought into this world, that it’s simply a given. But, did it ever occur to you that maybe some people don’t want to be sucked onto this planet and held down by gravity for a human lifetime? You make it sound as though the child is automatically responsible for its parents – their sense of respect and dignity – and somehow owes them its life. I don’t get that, Mr God. If it has to be that way at all, then why not the other way around?

What other way around?

Since the parents made a conscious decision (assuming that anyway) to have the child, and the child had no say in the matter, then doesn’t it stand to reason that it should be the parents who are responsible for the child and they, in fact, owe it their lives?

Do you have any children of your own?

Uhh – you got me there, Mr God. What do you mean?

I mean what I say!

I mean, is this a trick question or something?

What do you think I am, a magician or something?

Well, actually, yes, sort of. Aren’t you?

I am Everything and Nothing!

I won’t pretend to know what that means, but it sounds kind of cool. Anyway, what I was trying to say was that your question threw me a little because… well, you know… you know everything.


Well, you do know how many children I have, don’t you?

Ridiculous and ludicrous! Since I know every hair on your head, how could I not know how many children you have?

Well, since you put it that way, yes, I guess it would be crazy… since you know everything and all. You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to.

You’re losing me, son. Can you hurry this up?

Okay, I’m ready to wrap this one up, I think. I just want to make sure that this commandment applies to all children – which is to say, every person of every age – at all times. Can you speak to that for a moment, Mr God?

Yes, for everyone, at all times. That’s the point of these commandments, son – don’t you get it yet? This is the law I have laid down for you to live by. I gave you life in the first place. I am the decider!

Hey, did you just quote George Dubya Bush? You joker! That’s funny. I’m kind of relieved somewhat to find you have a sense of humor. I like that. That’s a likeable trait.

Oh, well, yes. Thank you. Please, carry on…

I’m just talking about when you smile like that – yes, that’s it, just like that! – you lighten up and there seems to be a softer, more loving God that comes to the surface, you know… kinda like Dubya – the kind of guy I’d like to sit and have a beer with, shoot the breeze and chill coolin’ in the suds, if you get what I’m sayin’…

Gosh, I… I don’t know… what to say…

Wow – who’d ever have thunk it? God speechless! Far out! Hey, are you blushing? Is that a little pink under that white beard?


Oh, Mr God, are you crying? Soaking that bushy beard? It’s all right, you just let it all out now… but what is it? What’s making you cry like a Little Miss Sunshine who’s just lost the competition?

Nobody’s ever… well, treated me like this. You said you’d like to chill with me, like a friend, just hang. All I ever get is people asking me for stuff. And you know what sucks? They do it all week long, but come Sunday – my one and only day off – they really blast me out of it. Even if they offer me something, it’s always with some hidden agenda, you know. Like, Dear God, o deargododeargododeargod, I want to show you my adoration by staying off of chocolate this Lent. I shall do it in your name! It is a tremendous sacrifice – but, of course, what am I saying? – you already know that, don’t you? Anyway, hope all is well with you… and your… you and the angels. I’m about 3 stone overweight right now and if you could see your way to helping me shed the pounds, I’d be eternally grateful and would owe you even more adoration and praise and worship, as we move forward, you and I, olord, on the ground… crawling over lines in the sand, getting tired sometimes, redoubling our efforts… as we go into the future, hand in hand, and, sometimes, you carrying me when I cannot bear to go on due to thirst, hunger and imminent death darkening everything in its vampire-like black shadow, leaving only your footsteps in the sand… ad nauseum.

Oh, come on now, Mr God… here, use this handkerchief. I promise you it’s clean.

I already knew that.

Of course you did. And you know how you’re saying in this commandment – your number 5 in your Top 10 – that all children should always honor their parents, right?

I do. I am saying that. It’s what it says on the tin, isn’t it? Why’s it so hard communicating with you people?

Only you know that.

? –

So, if a child was brought up by parents who were neglectful, abusive, and without a shred of compassion or love in their bones, that child should honor them anyway – to hell with what they did, the way they acted, just honor them anyway, whether they deserve it or not – is that what you are actually saying… I mean literally?

I keep telling you, my son, I gave you free-will. People get to choose. And that’s more than what some of us get, if you get my meaning. Anyway, what kind of tyrant would I be if I didn’t give you free-will? You’d be like brain

dead zombies or robots or something. And what fun would that be?

That’s an interesting way of looking at it, I’ll give you that. And, on that very point, free-will… tell me, Mr God, when you think of the defenceless, small doll-like child being abused by some grown up human being, I’m just wondering, you know… where’s that child’s free-will?

It’s not that simple. I have a divine plan, you’ll just have to trust me on that. And even if I tried to explain it to you, you wouldn’t understand.

But, I thought you were omnific – that you could do anything you wanted to do.

I can. But, it gets complicated, you know?

I see that it does. You are all powerful and all mighty and yet you cannot explain to us humans in a way we’d understand what your divine plan is. Surely, the fact that you cannot do something negates the claim to be able to do anything, right? Anyway, am I to understand that your divine plan, the one that you dreamed up, designed and are right now manifesting into existence includes innocent children being raped and tortured by some of the human beings that… well, dare I say it?

Say it!

That you created. Since that’s what’s happening, then we can conclude that its part of your divine plan.

I work in mysterious ways! You cannot know my divine plan!

Why not?

Why not?! What? Preposterous and red-boiled lobsterous! We covered this, didn’t we? Do you have Alzheimer’s son?

Do I?

If I reveal my cunning plan and prove my existence then you would no longer have the wonderful gift – the gift I saw fit to bestow on you – of free-will. And look at the thanks I get! Ingrate!

So, I take it that you’re not going to answer my question about the little children… the little children who have to suffer to come unto you. What in the hell does that mean anyway? There’s so many things wrong with that sentence. Firstly, you decree that all the children must suffer? Why? Did you suffer? Are you just sharing the suffering? Trying to get us to carry the cross for your sins the way you made your (as far as we know) only son be tortured to death on two planks of wood stuck together?

I Am The Son! And The Holy Ghost, too! We are the Holy Trinity. We are three, yet we are one!

And I am the walrus, goo googa joob! So, to change the subject  here for a brief moment, and get back to it in even less time, isn’t suicide a sin? A whopper sized sin?

You can count on it!

So, if you are your son, then didn’t you kill yourself? Commit suicide, as it were?

You are my son, and you shalt honor me as you shalt your mother and father, but even more, and you shalt not try to be a smartass with me!

Gotcha, Big Guy! Guess you’re not going to touch that one – and I don’t blame you. I know I couldn’t defend it myself… but then again, you’re God, right. The Big G! You don’t have to explain anything to us. And we wouldn’t get it even if you did. Not because you failed to communicate effectively, but that we failed to understand you, stupid us!? So, before we go around in circles here, like dogs chasing their own tails –

Or licking their own balls –

Yes, okay, then, it could be like that too. Tell me, Mr God, what’s your number 6 in the Top 10 of All Time?… (Next blog: Thou Shalt Not Kill!)

© 2010 Owen Pardue


Sitting at a wobbly table in the IFI, engrossed in a free copy of The Irish Times, my attention is snagged by a tall, middle-aged man wearing a wig so outrageous as to be hilarious and simultaneously vomitous!

It’s almost impossible to swallow the fresh mouthful of hot puke ascending while laughing like a loon, but somehow I manage.

‘Is this seat taken?’ Gadzooks! It’s the man with the fake matted mullet on his oversized head. With a strained smile on tightly shut lips and a second upchuck of sick rising in my gorge, I struggle to respond.

After a big swallow, I ask, ‘If that seat was taken it wouldn’t be there, now would it?’ and chortle nervously. I wasn’t happy to be interrupted in such a shocking manner – eyes, and now nose, assailed by horrid things.

‘Does that mean it’s free?’ Mr Toupee doesn’t seem to get the humor, and I wonder how a man wearing a joke on his head can be a no-comedy zone. Delusional men who wear bad wigs are walking targets for joke-grenades – everyone knows that. So, what’s wrong with this guy?

Nobody tells him…

‘I wouldn’t think so. I’d guess it would cost at least €30. The price of sitting down thesedays… scandalous!’ I try to make it obvious that I am kidding him by wearing a big old shit-eating grin on my face and winking as though there’s something caught in my eye. In a manner of speaking, there is: something caught in both my eyes. The skanky roadkill on his dome gives the impression it will come back to life any minute, and peel itself from his head before limping away to hide under the first rock it finds.

‘What I mean to ask,’ he presses on in a pleasant and serious manner, ‘is if it would be all right for me to sit there.’ I can’t help notice the dirt under the index finger of his right hand as he points. It’s black. My skin crawls.

‘I bet you can sit anywhere you like.’ I’m right. He can and does. And with him much closer now, a mere dozen or so inches away, I am afforded a close-up view of his rank rug, dead-rodent-like, decaying on his head, just as a whiff of pong so malodorous as to cause my nostrils to snap shut all by themselves and my mouth to pucker up as if a lemon’s been plunged in it.

As I fight off the urge to faint, I feel an anger rise up. You are free to wave your arms around madly, an inner-voice says. But when you hit someone else, you take away their freedom! Yes, that’s right isn’t it? And when I’m sitting drinking coffee reading the paper minding my own business do I not have a right to NOT have to look at a yellowish/greenish/grayish fibrous mess threatening to jump off someone’s head… NOT to have to be slammed with a wall of stink so hard that consciousness slips away?

There is a law against noise beyond a certain level – so why not apply the same logic to our other senses? Fashion Police to stop the toupee faux-pas (as well as the fat girls in lycra pants, gut hanging out proud, every curve, crack and crevice on show so that you can actually lip-read if you dare to focus!) and Odour Police to take out the stinky people – you know the ones: the labourer you get stuck standing beside on the Dart who raises his hand to hold the ceiling-bar and you end up with a moist and minging pit in your face; or the pretty girl behind the cash-register in some store who causes curvature of the spine when she opens her halitosis-ridden mouth to tell you the cost of the mints you just dropped; or the drug-addict who sits beside you in a hamburger joint, and after you realise that the smell you’re getting isn’t coming from your meal, you conclude that the guy with the disconnected eyes hasn’t used toilet-paper in weeks!

Incensed by my internal dialogue, I tear my eyes away from a tiny white something – like a small piece of rice – that seems to be moving, albeit slowly, in a threadbare area above his temple, and unable to contain myself any longer, consider what I will say to this shambolic scarecrow at my table.

I often moan and complain about people who moan and complain about things but never do or say anything. I know all about it because I am one of those people: too confused about politeness or being offensive to actually stand up and say what I believe. To moan and complain to those who I have a problem with – that’s my goal in this life. If only it were as easy as keeping your mouth closed!

I think about saying something sarcastic… ‘You know, that wig you’re wearing is so real looking, I bet it fools everyone!’

‘Why thank you, young man.’ The smile he cracks reveals mossy teeth, most of them missing. ‘As far as I know, everyone thinks it’s my very own head of hair.’

‘Oh yeah, sure… you would’ve had me fooled, too, if you hadn’t sat so close,’ I patronise. Part of me kind of feels sorry for this guy, not that that’s ever going to do me or him any good. A much bigger part of me wants to slap the wig from his head and tell him to wash because there’s a whole wide world out there that can see and smell! Yeah, my internal dialogue goads, why should you give a damn about him or his feelings when he obviously has no respect for anyone else’s. Yeah.

‘I’d like to stab a guess at something, okay?’

‘All right.’ A whimsical look passes over his face.

‘You don’t have any friends or family, do you?’

He thinks for a moment, as if counting in his head. ‘No. I don’t. How did you know that?’

‘Listen: Can I be a friend for a minute? I mean, can I tell you something that a friend or family member would tell you if they truly cared about you?’

Again, he thinks momentarily, this time as though trying to understand a language he has mostly forgotten. ‘I bet you can tell me anything you like.’

‘Okay. Here goes. Ummm… Do you drive?’

‘Only when golfing,’ he says enigmatically.

‘Well, you know how, like when driving, we all have a blind-spot? Things we cannot see about ourselves that others can?’

‘I think so. Yes. Go on.’ He seems eager for me to get to the point.

‘It’s about your wig. I was just being sarcastic when I said it was convincing. I meant it was the opposite. It makes you look like a sad git with bad judgement and no friends and family.’

Mr Toupee processes this information for a half minute before asking why it makes him look like he has no friends or family.

‘Because, one would assume, if you had any they would be kind enough to let you know that your toupee is ridonkulous and talk you out of wearing it.’

‘Oh,’ he sighs, forlorn, and looks vacantly into his lap. Now’s the time to put the boot in. Best time to kick a man is when he’s down… and it is for his benefit. Cruel to be kind and all that.

‘Also, they would, if they had a modicum of a sense of smell, inform you that the odour that emanates from you is reminiscent of a used airline sick-bag stuffed with green-tinged chunks of rotting chicken that just passed through the loosened sphincter of a recently-dead Indian man!’

‘American Indian or real Indian?’

‘That’s not the point! Aren’t you getting this?’

Mr Toupee nods gently. ‘I think so. Basically, you are telling me that my wig looks ridiculous and I smell bad. Am I right?’

‘Yes, that’s it in a nutshell.’ I begin to feel even more sorry for him: a thing I don’t like to do for another because I hate for another to do it for me. But I can’thelp it. That forlorn look is back – all over his face like a rash. He leans forward, puts his face close to mine and whispers.

‘Thank you very much, sir.’ His voice is weak and shaky. Surprised by his response, expecting him to give me a dirty look and leave at best, I smiled and told him he was welcome.

‘Oh thank you, thank you, thank you,’ he carried on, dropping to his knees in front of me, hands clasped together at his chest as if praying to me… or worse, worshiping me… ‘thank you for being my friend, for being my brother! You have revealed great truths to me that I was to blind to see. You cared enough for me to bother to explain it. You must have such affection for me – you are my friend. My very best friend! – ‘

I am aware that not only of Mr Toupee’s eyes but that all eyes in the place are on me in this moment. I enjoy surreal in movies and pictures but up until now have never sat in the middle of it. My vision wanders all over the place, blurring colors and shapes, until they come to rest on a bottle of ketchup that has fallen over on its side when Mr Toupee bumped the table falling to his knees. It is dripping ketchup… but ever so slowly. The colour looks redder, saturated somehow… the consistency thicker… the smell so strong it takes over the insides of my nostrils in a highly unpleasant way… and I have to look away.

My eyes come to rest on a tiny white something – like a small piece of rice – that seems to be moving – wait! I remember this. The tiny white rice-like thing that really is moving, but like the red sauce, exceedingly slowly. It is, I now know, a louse! And as I have this thought it stops, stares me in the eye, and then launches itself into the space between us. In my periphery I take note that a dropsical of ketchup has also disconnected from its home and is heading south. My attention swings back to the tick: its getting bigger as it grows closer…

A sudden knowing infuses me and I relax in an instant. It’s all been a daydream. Must’ve been too much caffeine. I will blink and upon opening my eyes, find myself where I started: Sitting in this café beside a foul-smelling man wearing a head carpet, me staring at a fat louse moving around above his right ear. I begin to blink, closing my eyes (noting the still falling ketchup, the still growing bigger louse looming)…

and know that I will not being saying a word to him about his head or odour. No, I will be leaving immediately. Leaving it up to someone else to tell Mr Toupee what’s going on. Why should I be the one to speak up and say something? There’ll be someone else more understanding and articulate than I, surely…

eyes begin to open… and just a nano-second after the ketchup hits the floor, splashing like a drop of blood, the louse lands on the flat of my left eyeball, causing it to close belatedly as everything returns to normal speed and I find myself on my feet, rubbing frenziedly at my eye and making a sound that I’ve never heard before.

‘Thank you!’ Mr Toupee was starting to drink from my coffee cup as I staggered half-blind out the door. Fuck it! He can pay for it!

© 2009 Wordwurst