How to bathe a cat, make a zebra laugh, enjoy a day

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, November 8, 2006

Considering the serious tone of our columns the past few months, at least one of our readers has wondered whether our coffee companions have any sense of humour. If the laughter around Cochrane café tables and the delightful emails many of you send me are any indication, I can assure you that they do indeed have a great sense of humour.

Just the other day, for instance, Cochrane coffee companion Michael Bopp shared with me some directions he received on bathing a cat:

“Put both lids of the toilet up and add one-eighth cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him toward the bathroom. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. (You may need to stand on the lid.) The cat will self-agitate and make ample suds. Don’t be concerned with the noises that come from the toilet. The cat is actually enjoying this.

“Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a power wash and rinse. Have the front door of your home open. Be sure that there are no people or other pets between the bathroom and the front door. Stand as far behind the toilet as possible and quickly lift both lids. The cat will rocket out of the toilet and streak through the house and out the front door, initiating the self-dry cycle. Both the toilet and the cat will be sparkling clean.”

It seems the directions were compiled by someone known simply as “Rover.” Hmmm....

(I should note that Michael really is a cat lover, and would never even think of taking Rover’s advice.)

Animals play a big role in the humour I receive, especially the emailed photographic kind. Another of our Cochrane coffee companions, Ross Lincer, forwarded to me an anonymous image of a donkey held precariously high in the air by a pair of poles attached to a two-wheeled cart. The off-balanced cart had been grossly overloaded, and the cantilevered animal never stood a chance.

Another image he forwarded is of three zebras who must have heard about the donkey. The three are standing side-by-side, heads high in the air, appearing to laugh uproariously. The caption with the photo reads, “Share a joke with friends.”

Fun with language holds a major attraction for many of our readers. Calgarian Jeff Perkins came across this take-off on “Veni, vidi, vici,” Julius Caesar’s famous Latin line meaning “I came, I saw, I conquered”. The new version?

“Veni, vidi, Visa: ‘I came, I saw, I did a little shopping.’”

Here’s another from Jeff, no doubt dedicated to all those people out there who feel compelled to reduce everything to a short string of letters: “AAAAA – American Association Against Acronym Abuse.”

My son James, a Toronto writer/editor, is so sensitive to typos and other abuses to language that he established a website, “Wretched English,” as “a collection celebrating the unlimited potential of the English language for being unintentionally amusing.” Here are two examples he came across in a recipe:

“Stew for five minutes, then add the tomatoes, their juice and the sock.” If you thought the sock was a bit out of place, further down the recipe there was something else that’s a hoot: “Make a mound of rice in each owl and spoon the soup around it.”

Young children provide some delightful moments with their misunderstanding of Bible stories. For instance, here’s one from Maida Bush, of Cochrane. It supports the contention of popular Cochrane public speaker and humourist Helgi Eyford that good humour often succeeds because it takes a right turn where you least expect it – and in the case of Maida’s story, with a jolt:

“The Sunday school teacher was describing how Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, when little Jason interrupted. ‘My Mommy looked back once while she was driving,’ he announced triumphantly, ‘and she turned into a telephone pole!’”

Maida guessed correctly that I’d get a chuckle out of this one, too:

“While driving in Pennsylvania, a family caught up to an Amish carriage. The owner of the carriage obviously had a sense of humour, because attached to the back of the carriage was a hand-printed sign: ‘Energy efficient vehicle: runs on oats and grass. Caution: Do not step in exhaust.’”

Foothills outdoorsman and wildlife photographer Bill McLean forwarded to me a reflection on living life fully in spite of its sorrows. I’ll close this week’s chat with the conclusion to that reflection:

“Take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been hurt, because every 60 seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back. Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.”

© 2006 Warren Harbeck

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