Interviews With Little-Known Men by Col. Stoopnagle

            Mr. Scriven Payne, Long Island, New York.  Occupation: Commuter.

            "Mr. Payne, it has come to my attention that you are a member of the very interesting circle of folks called the Never-Men."

            "That's right, Colonel.  I belong to that circle by reason of the fact that I have never written on a steamed window with my forefinger.  Not even once."

            "How extraordinary!  Nor with any other finger either, Mr. Payne?"

            "Nor with any other finger, either.  However, I do often write on windows which are not covered with steam, just to satisfy an innate desire.  Since nothing comes out legible, it's O.K. with our people and I keep my record clean."

            "Do you think, Mr. Payne, that there's much of a future in being one of the Never-Men?"

            "Oh, to be sure.  Now that I'm firmly established, I'm looking forward to achieving honor in an entirely different field."

            "What field is that?"

            "I'm going to be the only man who has never said, 'Stop me if you've ever heard this.'  Oh heck!  I just said it, didn't I?"


            Mr. Horace McPhailure, Sans Vinci, California.  Occupation: Unoccupied.

            "Mr. McPhailure, I understand you claim that there's something else in the world to aim at besides success."

            "Yes, Colonel.  Failure."

            "That's an interesting sidelight on stuff, I'm sure.  How come?"

            "Well, for generations my people have achieved nothing but success, and I'm mighty sick and tired of it.  No McPhailure ever failed to do what he started out to do.  The whole family was in a rut."

            "So you decided to put a stop to it, I take it?"

            "Yes, the first job I ever had was making a cheap and inefficient mouse-trap.  But it caught more mice than the expensive, efficient ones.  So I was fated to be successful, too, until one day I invented a clothesline pole without notches.  Naturally, the clotheslines fell right down.  Orders began being canceled by the dozens, and I was on my way to successful failure at last.  Within a few weeks I wasn't making a cent.  I've managed to stay that way ever since, especially since I added a hole-less lawn-sprinkler to my line."

            "To what do you attribute all this un-affluence, Mr. McPhailure?"

            "I feel I owe it all to the fact that in the face of my greatest failures I never became encouraged.  I just kept my nose off the grindstone, and my wagon unhitched from a star."

            "And, I assume, by keeping diligently not at it, probably."

            "That's right, Colonel.  Well, I have to go now.  They are awarding me the Ig-Nobel Prize this afternoon and I have to fail to accept it."


            Mr. Tom P. King, Bonavista, Florida.  Occupation:  Eaves-Dropper.

            "Colonel, I drop eaves."

            "Really?  I've often heard of eaves-droppers, but I didn't realize they actually drop eaves."

            "Oh, yes.  An eave, you know, is pretty heavy to carry around.  So after a while I have to drop it."

            "That's fascinating work, I imagine."

            "Hardly, Colonel.  But once you start dropping eaves it sorta gets under your skin, and it's hard to give it up."

            "Are there actually people who want eaves taken from one place to another?"

            "There must be.  Otherwise, what good would an eaves-dropper be?"

            "No good at all, I guess.  But you don't look very busy now.  Is work dropping off?"

            "Oh, no.  I'm on my vacation now.  Sort of a busman's holiday."

            "How's that?"

            "I'm on my way out of town now.  There's a nice little cave out in the country that has a beautiful echo.  I'm going to listen to myself talk." 

[From 1000 Jokes, Spring 1949]


Page created November 14, 2006.  Copyright 1998-2006 by Richard D. Squires.