“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”
When this blog post came into my head I was reminded of an old Stealers Wheel hit of the 1970s called “Stuck In The Middle With You”, which incidentally also featured as the soundtrack for the hit movie “Reservoir Dogs”. It seemed appropriate. For those of you who don’t know it, or would like to hear it again, I have attached a video at the end of the post.
As you are no doubt well aware if you have read even a little of this blog, I am fond of humor. I like to try to see the funny side of things, no matter how serious or frustrating. It usually comes quite easily to me, sometimes too easily. All in all, this gift has served me well over the years, but now and again it has caused a little bit of bother.
This story starts off rather sadly. A friend of the family had been killed in a car accident. Not his fault, the moron in the car who hit him was going too far too fast, but that didn’t do my friend any good. He left behind a widow and two children.
A Church Service was held before the interment at the local graveyard and we all filed into the Church and tried to fine a space in one of the pews. The Church was small and the number of people attending the funeral was large. As a consequence we were packed into the seats like the proverbial sardines. But there was nothing else we could do.
I found myself between two guys whom I did not know, so there wasn’t much in the way of conversation before the service started. I didn’t even know their names.
The Minister took his place in the pulpit and began the Service.
Everything went smoothly.
For a while.
Then the guy to my left decided he would take the hiccoughs. Well I think the hiccoughs made the decision to take him and there was little he could do about it. That became mildly amusing in itself. It reminded me of my days at school where one of my classmates was often similarly afflicted.
Trying to suppress hiccoughs only makes things worse and I remember at school there would be a series of rather quiet ones and then one would strike simultaneously with an intake of breath making an elongated and rather loud and unusual noise. It always made us laugh and frequently got us into trouble when we were in school.
That’s the one I was waiting for in the Church, the big noisy one. The anticipation was almost unbearable. Would it happen during a Hymn? Or when the Minister was speaking? Or worst of all, at a moment of silence in the proceedings drawing everyone’s attention in our direction?
When it came, thankfully, we were in the middle of the first Hymn. A few people noticed, but not many. I just held my Hymn Book in front of my face and giggled, more with relief that it had happened rather than at the act itself.
I was just preparing to steel myself for the next big one when all of a sudden the man to my right started to sway backwards and forwards and wriggle from side to side, his hands moving quickly up and down his legs and up to his sides. His left elbow hitting my right arm on a number of occasions. His face was twitching too.
“Oh FFS, what now?” I said to myself, very inappropriately for a Church Service I admit.
“This other idiot is taking some sort of a fit,” I thought. “And I’m stuck here in the middle, between him and the hiccough king, and there’s no way out.”
What was I to do?
Then things got better.
Then things got worse.
To my momentary relief, it turned out the bloke on my right wasn’t taking some kind of a fit after all. Apparently he felt he was about to sneeze and was frantically trying to get into one of his trouser pockets for a handkerchief.
His problems were two-fold. One, the sneeze was imminent, and, two, we were all so tightly packed into the Church pews that he couldn’t get enough room to get his hand into his trouser pocket, hence the frantic movements of his arms. The man wasn’t having a fit, he was just in a mild state of panic looking for his hankie.
If there isn’t a saying, “a sneeze waits for no man”, there should be because they don’t. And sneeze he did. A great big one. That was bad enough, but unfortunately he must have had a cold or something because when he sneezed at least six inches of rather unpleasant stuff made its way out of his nose and just hung there like an icicle in winter. He quickly did the only thing he could and put his hand up to his nose capturing the offending article.
My next worry was where was he going to put it? If I was keeping an eye on him before when I thought he was about to have a fit, I was keeping an even tighter eye on him now.
And then to my surprise he stood up, reached into his pocket and retrieved his handkerchief. I thought him standing up was a bit odd, yet I admired him for having the courage to do it in front of all these people.
Satisfied that he was now under control I turned back to my left to the guy with the hiccoughs. To my equal surprise he was on his feet as well. I’d heard that standing on your head and trying to drink a glass of water would cure the hiccoughs, but never just standing up on your feet in Church. This guy had got it all wrong.
But actually he hadn’t. When I looked round the Church everybody was on their feet. And when I looked up at the pulpit and made eye contact with the Minister he stared down at me expectantly.
I had been so caught up on the events at either side of me and at the same time trying to hold in my laughter that I had completely tuned out of the Church Service. Now we were going to sing another Hymn – if I would just get on to my feet that is. I was holding up the whole Service!!
I did. Immediately. The organist started to play and everybody began to sing the Hymn. I took out my handkerchief this time, not because I was in the same predicament as the other bloke, but just to mask more laughter.
When it was all over we walked out to the graveyard, much to my relief. After the interment I met a friend. Apparently he had been watching the happenings in the Church.
“Man, I didn’t know you were so fond of the deceased,” he said. “You looked terribly upset in Church.”
“Oh yes, we go back a long way,” I said. ‘You know how it is.”
I got away with that one, I think.