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Forgive my bad language


“I didn’t know it was acceptable for a preacher to speak that way.”

Just the other day I read a story of a boy selling fish on a street corner yelling, “Dam fish for sale! Get your dam fish here!”

A pastor passing by hears this and asks the boy, “Do you know how that sounds?”

The boy calmly responds to the minister, “Sir, I caught these fish at the local dam, and they are not ordinary fish. You have to call them dam fish I wasn’t swearing.”

The pastor shrugs and with a smile he buys a couple of the fish sorry, I mean ‘dam fish’.

He takes them home to his wife and asks her to cook the ‘dam fish’. The wife responds surprised, “I didn’t know it was acceptable for a preacher to speak that way.”

However, he eases her concerns when he explains that he wasn’t swearing and why exactly they are ‘dam fish’ and not ordinary fish.

Later at the dinner table, the minister asks his son to pass the ‘dam fish’. The son initially surprised, passes the fish and then, with a broad smile on his face, he responds, “That’s the spirit, Dad! Now pass the f**king potatoes!”

And that, dear reader, is how a certain type of story is told. In this method, characters are introduced and situations created to lead the reader to the desired conclusion, or punchline.

The story is brief and there is a logical sequence of events as elements are introduced to set up the ending. It’s only right at the end that the pastor’s naughty son makes an appearance, and he makes an immediate impact, stealing the show.

I know a few people who would be surprised and amused by the ending of this story, but I also know a few people who would have seen the punchline coming as soon as they read the words “pastor” and “dam fish”.

To them, having to sit and listen to a joke like this being constructed would be absolute torture seeing as they would have figured out the punchline from the get-go.

My problem with jokes is that when someone starts telling one to me my stress levels rise, especially when too much detail goes into constructing the rib-tickler. I worry that I will miss some detail and be unprepared for the punchline.

Often I get so caught up in focusing on all the details of the story that I miss the end of the joke and then I have to smile politely or force a chuckle.

It takes a certain skill to tell a joke properly, and apparently listening to one takes some expertise too. Personally, I prefer it when jokes are short.

My jokes are really stupid. For example, recently I was wondering If a chicken lays on the beach for four hours without sunscreen, is that chicken at the KF Sea?

This makes me a hypocrite because when I write GreyMutter I intentionally try to leave the juicy ending, the climax, the highlight right at the end as I create a meandering pathway manipulating the reader into following that specific path.

Real journalists often do not have that luxury.

For them, the juicy details have to appear very early in the story, and if the reader – after reading the mind-blowing introduction – feels that they want to know more and is interested in how things came to such a turn, the rest of the details will be further down the page at least it should be.

I think that these days, with attention spans being so short, people may have to learn to use that skill in general conversation.

I have witnessed far, far too often someone telling what they believe to be an interesting story perhaps, for example, hypothetically about a huge body of water near a fairground.

They carefully build the argument, filling in details, introducing scenarios and characters, only to be interrupted by the chatterbox in the company leaving their tale half-told.

In my opinion, that’s just not dam fair!

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