There are many unanswered questions in this world of ours. Questions which have kept the best minds on earth baffled throughout the ages – questions which have kept them researching, studying, exploring, and delving into our distant past. Questions such as:
1. How did the universe begin?
2. Is there a missing link?
3. What is gravity?
4. Is there intelligent life on other worlds?
Is there intelligent life on this world?
6. What caused the “Big Bang?” And so forth.
As far as I’m concerned, knowing the answers to these questions will not make one jot or iota of difference to my life. Even without knowing these answers, I will still see the sun rising tomorrow – and if it doesn’t – it will be because I’ve kicked the bucket during the night. Simple as that.
But before I do the bucket-kicking thing, there are just two questions which I would like to have answered:
1. Where do jokes go after they’ve been told?
2. Who killed Cock Robin?
First, let me tell you that I’m OLD. How old? Well, I’ll give you an idea: When I was still an apprentice on the Railways back in 1966, I used to go out once a month to a farm outside of Kimberley. To buy a lamb. A big one. As big as a sheep. The farm workers would slaughter it, skin it, cut it up in bite-size pieces, and pack it neatly into my cooler boxes.
The cost? R7.00. Yes, seven Rand for the whole thing. Tripe and trotters and fleece and all.
The other day, I bought a chicken at Pick ‘n Pay – one of those yellow-pinkish, oozing cadavers – pumped up with steroids, testosterone, Botox, and salt water to add to its weight. This bloody dead bird-carcass cost me R63.00.
“Do you realise, I could have bought nine lambs for sixty-three Rand, back in 1966?” I said to the wife. “Big ones. As big as sheep!”
“I know,” she said. “But in those days, you still had all of your hair. And teeth.”
(She can be such a hard, cruel woman, sometimes.)
OK. So now that we’ve established the fact that I’m old and henpecked, let’s move along.
Much of my misspent youth (and middle-ages), was spent in bars. I used to drink like a fish. I must have heard a million drunken jokes (while drowning in a million beers), from other drunks, who were also downing a million beers.
But that’s not important right now.
What is important is that one fine day; I realised that I was full – my thirst was quenched – I’ve had more than my fair share of the brown, bubbly stuff and its alcoholic friends. So I stopped drinking. Completely. Never touched a drop since then. Finish en klaar.
But here’s the funny thing: the drunken bar jokes always seem to come back to haunt me. Like boomerangs. Some stay away for a decade or more, before I hear them again. And I can sometimes even remember the name of the drunken face who told the joke to me all those years ago.
Now this begs the question: where do the jokes float around in the intervening years? Do they hibernate behind bar counters, waiting for me to return? Do they spend time travelling to strange lands before returning? Who knows? Take this English joke:
“I used to drink all brands of beer. Now, I am older Budweiser!” (You’re supposed to laugh, Sakkie.)
If this English joke had travelled to Spain, it would have been told as:
“Yo solía beber todas las marcas de cerveza. Ahora, soy mayor de Budweiser!”
And if it travelled onwards from Spain to Philistine, some inebriated Filipino would have told it thus:
“Ginamit ko upang uminom ng lahat ng mga tatak ng serbesa. Ngayon, Ako ay mas matanda Budweiser!”
From there, the joke could have travelled to Italy, where it would have been:
“Ho usato per bere tutta la marca di birra. Ora, io sono Budweiser vecchio!”
And finally, after two decades, it would return to English as:
“I used to be a drunken old fart. Now, I am just an old fart!”
(For some reason, it would seem as if the punchline got lost in translation.) But you can see what I mean. Jokes float around the world and always return in some form or other. If you live long enough, they will return more than once.
To prove my point: Once upon a time, there was a funny man called Bozo the Clown. Like a boomeranging joke, he has returned, and is now called Zuma the Clown.
Now here is the sad news: Like a bad joke, Zuma the Clown will return. His return will be called: “Serving another term in Office.”
And no one will be laughing at his jokes.
Epilogue: Who killed Cock Robin?
NEWSFLASH: “The Sparrow has admitted to killing Cock Robin with a bow and arrow, but has denied guilt, saying he thought Cock Robin was an intruder about to open the toilet door and attack him. Sparrow will now be sent for psychiatric observation.”
Maybe I’ll never know the truth about Cock Robin’s tragic demise...