You know what's fantastic?
Mind-blowing, out-of-this-world, just unbelievably, uniquely and unequivocally fantastic???!?!?
*long, drawn out silence...
Yeah, okay. A bit anti-climactic, I realize. Don't think I don't. I do. Really. But, if you're like me, you'll know what I'm talking about. And if you're normal, you'll look at me like I'm some sort of vermilion-coloured unicorn/tree squirrel, thinking I know he's a bit odd, but there must be some logical reason for his existence.
Don't worry, I'll help you out. Just take my hand - wow, those are soft, do you moisturize? - and I'll guide you through the seemingly nonsensical ramblings of my mind.
Words just do it for me, you know? There's something irresistibly seductive about a beautiful bit of wordplay and the way it's presented which, given the right proportions and context, can really melt my proverbial butter. And no, for you sick logophiliacs out there, my wife has never dressed up in a word costume for a night of passionate lovemaking, regardless of how much I beg.
Alluring alliterations, ironic phrasing, and perfectly balanced sentences, I love it all. And, of course, there's just something particularly satisfying to a lover of language about finding the perfect word in a given situation, le mot juste. But, more than anything, I, like most people, just like the funny.
We love to laugh. And though you've likely heard the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words, it's usually the written or spoken word which reigns as King of comedy. People go see live comedians all the time (probably better value than the dead ones, I reckon), and usually it's because they're verbally hilarious. A good comedian can make you spill your guts with laughter, only using words and sentences and vocabulary stuff to do it.
Don't get me wrong, visual jokes have their place, absolutely. They usually ensnare the attention of the target audience in the first place, but it's language that keeps things interesting. How many memes have you come across on Facebook today? Twenty, thirty million? Typically, the ones with the highest funny factor include a word or two (if not a couple sentences) to provide a punchline. Imagine this: A picture of a soiled diaper soaring through the air. The image is interesting enough, if not mildly amusing. But it's the caption that sells it. "I've found something waaaay better than potatoes for my PVC cannon!"
Some of my favourite things to read are short and simple (the exact opposite of my blog articles, oddly enough). Clever public vandalism, in particular. Ever experience one of these rare gems first-hand? It makes your day, I guarantee it. When someone is able to harmlessly apply a bit of sardonic wit for the benefit of the public at large, it warms my fat little heart like bacon on a griddle.
Clever vandalism is harmless, if tastefully done. There's just something so damn, well, Canadian about it. It happens all around the world, of course, but it just seems born of this country. It's a gentle mix of rebellion against the "machine" and completely harmless passive aggressiveness designed not to offend anyone. Canadian.
And, quite often, it is the added message that allows us to remember the original posting in the first place. Typical public service announcements lose me as soon as I realize their message has a motive behind it, discarded in my mind with other useless drivel like grade 11 math and names of people who aren't important enough for me to pay attention to and that I've forgotten as soon as they tell it to me. But the post-print content, the funny stuff, that sticks, and so I remember the whole thing, because hey, what's a good joke without context?
So go ahead, you have my permission to deface any property in the public's eye, so long as it's clean, in good taste, and above all, witty. Everything's better with the funny.
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Remember the days when everything, and I mean everything, was magical? When you were a kid and things that didn't quite add up could easily be explained with magic, when it was soooo easy to believe in wonderful ideas just because magic made it possible?
A pot-o-gold at the end of every rainbow? Had I been the one driving the family van on road trips you can bet there would have been countless detours along the way to see if we couldn't just wrestle a few coins from a greedy little green leper sporting a shamrock. Santa delivering toys to children all over the entire planet in one night?? Easily explained; he had magic, of course. End of questions. Wishing upon a shooting star? Magic. The Tooth Fairy? Magic. Electricity? Magic.
Kids will believe pretty much anything they hear, as long as it is said earnestly and with conviction. It's one of their greatest gifts; the ability to have complete faith in something, just because.
When kids get physically hurt, most of the time they experience an imagined or mentally exaggerated level of pain. Sure, they tripped and fell, okay. No big deal to us logical adults, but to a kid, the sudden shock alone can induce fear and a shattering sense of fragility. Even upon parental inspection, there's nary a bruise, scratch or cut to be found on the child, but that doesn't make the kid's perceived pain any less real to them. (Wow. Almost sounds like I did actual research on that one, no?) Naturally, most parents will kiss their child's pain away, because, let's face it, those little punks are pretty much faking it. We make a big show to kiss their owees where they hurt, slurping and smacking our lips comically solely to get them laughing again and forget about the fictional pain in their goofy shaped noggins.
And it works. It works so well, in fact, that if your kid has been bumped around as often as mine has (not my fault most of the time; he runs downhill like a drunken meerkat) he ends up believing in the unfaltering power of a parent's smooch with the blind devotion of a rescued puppy. A child's faith in something, anything, is very strong. Once their mind is conditioned a certain way, it is very seldom dissuaded, and even then it usually takes a crushing truth to dislodge the idea.
Until very recently, my little dude could be relatively easily cured of any harm, physical or emotional, with a generous application of smooches and kisses to the afflicted area, even from dear old Dad. After a short while, toddler giggles would resume, and he'd go back to terrorizing the cat and eating random things he'd find in the couch cushions. The other day, however, he learned the hard way that magical kisses could not fix everything.
During a splendid afternoon frolicking at a variety of community playgrounds, my kid ran across a small stretch of grimace-inducing pavement (if you're a parent, you know the kind - kinda gravelly looking, no doubt intentionally designed to be rough like Satan's hemorrhoids to provide either winter traction or keep enemy ships from invading too far inland should flooding occur), promptly tripping over his own wayward foot, and crash landing hard onto his soft little palms. The rough surface tore several small bits of skin off his hands, inducing screams loud enough to pass for war-time emergency sirens.
I ran over to him as quickly as I could, scooped him up and inspected his bleeding palms. No sooner had I barely assessed the damage that I received a pudgy little hand being pressed into my face, my little guy practically screaming Kiss! Kiss!! I pushed him back a bit to get a better look at his hand, only to be met once again with demands for immediate kisses and a bloody toddler's palm to my face. Ki-i-i-i-i-iss! he'd lament hysterically, over and over. I tried to kiss his hand, but truth be told, I was a little grossed out about the thought of putting my mouth against an OPEN, BLEEDING WOUND! I'm sure a parent more caring than I would have told me to suck it up and lick that wound dry but, hey, I'm a realist. My kid might have unwavering faith in the power of a parent's kisses, but I know it's just a big pile of hooey. What this kid needed was some clean water and disinfectant, no question.
Now, don't think me a cad. I did kiss his dear little hand as much as I could muster, trying to avoid the worst of the oozing red parts, but it just wasn't cutting it. After several smooches on the palm with no apparent effect, my kid actually pulled his hand back in confusion, interrupting his death-screams just long enough to look at his palm in confusion, then to my lips, wondering to himself WHY THE FUCK ISN'T THIS WORKING?!??! Rather than trying a different approach to medical care, he resumed screaming like a deranged banshee, somehow resolved into thinking that what he needed were harder kisses. He started pumping his little hand flat against the front of my face, as if pressurized contact with my mouth was the key to surviving this incredible ordeal.
Before he could start jamming his tiny fist deep into my mouth, I scuttled the screaming imp to the car (which was devoid of water, making home my best option) as quickly as I could and practically threw him in his seat, thanking God that at least soon I would go deaf and I would be at peace. I started the car and peeled out of there like I'd robbed a bank, my little guy shrieking incessantly in the back seat, his arm and hand outstretched towards me like a baby zombie bent on sampling my brains. KISSES!! KISSES!! he kept yelling. During the short drive back to the house, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear-view, noting that my blood-smeared face made me look very much like Hannibal Lecter when he escaped from his cell. Parenting. Yech.
Eventually, I went deaf from my child's murderous screams, but I was ultimately able to give him proper care, cleaning and disinfecting his hands and whatnot, all the while fending off relentless attempts to steal some magic smooches. When his hand was clean, I kissed that little mitt until my lips were chapped and my little guy started laughing again, forgetting all about his injury.
Until he looked at it once more, that is. Then he would start bawling all over again, with only magical kisses being a strong enough remedy to cure his ills. For the week following the accident, he would look at the healing wound on his hand and recount his heroic brush with death to whomever was next to him, telling of the Fall at the park; this a ow-ee. And, everytime, he would request a fresh smooch for good measure to keep the wound wa-wa's at bay.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to believe in magic like that again? So certain, so unquestionable is a child's faith and acceptance of all things magical. The world would be a far better place if we could all just learn to live like that again, expecting to experience the power of magic every single day like a child does.
And you know what? Maybe we could. We just need to lighten up a bit. Magicians these days are dubbed illusionists because people want to be entertained but somehow feel cheated a bit when the term "magic" is used since, really, there is no such thing. Who cares? Pretend it is magic. The show becomes positively amazing if you accept things at face value and don't try to discover how a trick is made. If you want to ruin every part of an entertaining show just because you feel compelled to figure out how it's really done, fine. Keep it to yourself. Just be warned that I will push you into traffic if you tell me they were using magnets. I paid eighty bucks to see some incredible magic, so clam up.
But even day to day, magic can be found everywhere. We just need to lower our standards a bit and look at things through the eyes of a child. How about the fact that we can jump into the sky, breaking our bonds with the earth, yet not go hurtling into space? Magic. Explaining how an engine works? Magic. Toasters: bread goes in but toast comes out? Fucking magic.
Sometimes it takes kids to remind us of how magical the world can be, if we just let it. So, as long as there are kids, there'll be magic.
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