Laughter over coffee is the best medicine

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, April 14, 2004

So, for those of us getting along in years, I received the following advice from Cochrane coffee companion Rose Nowakowski on how to keep our arm and shoulder muscles in good shape:

"Begin by standing outside behind the house," her forward said, "and with a five-pound potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. After a few weeks, move up to 10-pound potato sacks and then 50-pound potato sacks, and finally get to where you can lift a 100-pound potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight out for more than a minute. It can be done if you stick to it.

"Next, start putting a few potatoes in the sacks, but be careful not to overdo!"

Yup, you guessed it. It's that time of year again when I run some of the ghastly groaners and good humour you folks have mailed me.

I began this annual tradition a couple of years ago, following the lead of coffee companion Frank Breisch. He's the pastor who first brought my attention to the Eastern European church custom of celebrating holy hilarity the week following Easter, when the sadness of Christ's passion gives way to the joy of the resurrection.

Well, I'm not sure how "holy" the following is, but it arrived from Christa Bedwin, formerly of Cochrane and now of Montreal:

"One Sunday morning, a minister entered the foyer of his church and found a small boy looking at the war memorial plaque on the wall. Hearing the minister approach, the seven-year-old turned to him and asked, 'Who are all these people?'

"'Well, son, those were men and women of this congregation who died in the service.'

"The minister and the child stood together in silence before the plaque for a moment, and then the little boy whispered timidly, 'Which service? The 9 or the 10:30?'"

While we're on the theme of kids in church, Leanne Forest of Edmonton forwarded this:

"Six-year old Angie and her four-year old brother, Joel, were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had had enough. 'You're not supposed to talk out loud in church.' 'Why? Who's going to stop me?' Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, 'See those two men standing by the door? They're hushers!'"

As the saying goes, kids really do say the darnedest things. This one's from my Toronto-based son James, maintainer of this column's Web site (

"A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages. 'Mama, look what I found,' the boy called out. 'What have you got there, dear?' With astonishment in the young boy's voice, he answered, 'I think it's Adam's underwear!'"

On a different tack, Calgary coffee companion Jeff Perkins forwarded me an item that, after a bit of editing, seemed just perfect for bringing this week's column to a close. After all, it does quite nicely link my dread of computer viruses and my love for coffee shops:

"There is a new e-mail virus. The code name is 'WORK.' If you receive WORK from your colleagues, your boss, or anyone else, do not touch WORK under any circumstances.

"This virus wipes out your private life completely. If you should happen to come in contact with this virus, take two friends and go straight to the nearest coffee shop. Place your order and after a few refills, you will find that WORK has been completely deleted from your brain.

"Forward this virus warning immediately to at least five friends. Should you realize you do not have five friends, this means you are already infected by this virus and WORK already controls your whole life.

"If this is the case, go to a coffee shop and stay until you make at least five friends. Then retry. I think I have five friends but am not entirely positive. So I'm headed for the coffee shop anyway. (Never hurts to be safe.)"

Hope to see you there.

© 2004 Warren Harbeck

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