July 23, 2010
So I was walking home and I noticed one of my neighbors was out watering her lawn. She looked up as I went by and said, "Hot enough for ya?" And being the quick-witted fellow that I am I only took about an hour and a half to come back with, "Oh yeah", a response that, on the cleverness scale, ranks at about an eight. Unfortunately the scale goes to a hundred. Since I owe a great deal of my education to Mad Magazine, especially the "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions", you’d think I’d have some kind of comeback. And in fact I’m completely prepared if, for instance, I’m lying in a hospital bed and a nurse asks, "Are you a patient?" I’ll be able to come right back with, "No, I’m a doctor and I wanted to see what the view was like from here." Or if someone asks me, "Did you get a haircut?" I’ll say, "No, I have a dial on my back that makes my hair shorter." What the heck is anyone supposed to say in response to "Hot enough for ya" though? I suppose I could have come up with something like, "No, could you turn it up a few more degrees?" Or I could have come completely out of left field and said, "Boy, did I ever pick the wrong day to wear a sweater." Or I could have gotten really surreal and said, "Yeah, and it’s so humid I feel like a naked Russian guy should be hitting me with birch branches."
Maybe it’s better I didn’t come up with a clever response, though. The last time I tried to come up with a clever response it didn’t go over so well. It was before a meeting at work and a guy from another department came up to me and said, "I’ve heard there have been some big changes going on where you work. People moving in, people moving out." And I said, "Why? Because of the color of their skin. Run, run, run, but you sure can’t hide! Rap on brother!" How was I supposed to know he was a former member of The Temptations? If I could go back in time I would have come up with something else to say, but, for now at least, travelling back in time is impossible. And that’s too bad. While it’s probably a good thing that we can’t alter the space-time continuum, being able to travel through time would have its advantages. Well, only one advantage really, and that is that we’d be able to go back in time and come up with snappy comebacks in all those embarrassing situations where we couldn’t come up with anything. Like the time, for instance, that a bully at school called me Pizza Face, and the best I could come up with was, "Yes, and you are ugly, and in the morning I shall be sober," which is a staggeringly good comeback, but only if you’re Winston Churchill and a woman at a party has just pointed out that you’re drunk. Except I still don’t know what kind of comeback I would tell myself to use, so I guess a time machine wouldn’t be that useful. On the other hand I could go back in time and tell myself not to wear a sweater in the middle of July.