Tag Archive | "Tales of the Yukon"

Just the Facts

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Throughout man’s existence, he has been plagued by, as well as profited from, the things that have happened around him.  All that he has learned to further his survival fall under the general term, “facts.”

The dictionary defines fact as something that truly exists or happens.  That definition reminds me of an anecdote I heard while growing up.

Once, there was a pitchman at a carnival selling facts.  His barking, “Facts, five cents!” at passersby attracted the attention of a farmer who asked, “What is a fact?”  The pitchman replied, “You can find out for five cents.”  The quizzical farmer reached into his pocket and handed the pitchman a nickel.  With that, the pitchman produced a wooden box with a hole in the top and mysterious contents within its murky depths.

“Put your finger into the hole,” the carnival man directed.  When the farmer obliged, he was then ordered to withdraw and sniff his finger.  When the farmer obeyed, the barker then asked, “What does that smell like?”  The farmer’s face contorted as he announced, “It smells like the stuff I use to fertilize my crops.”  “That’s a fact!” crowed the pitchman.

Like the farmer, many of us flail around in the dark in pursuit of facts.  This includes people who have created as well as facilitated the creation of innovative technology.  Right here in the Garden State, Thomas Alva Edison attempted to remedy this somewhat with the invention of the light bulb.  However, his new development nearly did not go off as planned. When testing the light bulb, Edison asked his assistant to grab the wire attached to it.  The assistant complied and then asked with great zeal, “Anything else?!?”  Edison cautioned, “Don’t touch that other wire; it’s connected to the electric generator!”  That’s a fact.

Then there was the case of the young man struggling with his newfound hormonal desires.  He was instructed to visit his Rabbi for guidance in understanding his plight.  The visit ended with a lecture about the young man controlling his feeling if he wanted to go to heaven, but with an invitation to return if the feelings persisted.  As nature took its course, he was compelled to return.

Upon arriving, the Rabbi’s maid informed the visitor that her employer was not available.  She then asked if she could be of assistance to the young man.  Eagerly, he agreed.  The fact was, the young man learned more from the simple maid that day than he would have from the very scholarly Rabbi.

The facts of life are sometimes expressed in poetry, as they were by the Poet Laureate of the Yukon, Robert W. Service.  In his Tales of the Yukon collection, the last verse of the poem, “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” tells us:

These are the simple facts of the case,

And I guess I ought to know.

They say the stranger was crazed with “hooch,”

 And I’m not denying it’s so.

I’m not so wise like those lawyer guys,

But strictly between us two,

The woman who kissed him, and pinched his ****

Was the lady that’s known as Lou.

Beyond the aid of folklore and poetry, many a clueless do-it-yourselfer has learned other, less comforting facts of life when attempting to save money.  The fact remains that home repairs wind up costing a lot more with unskilled labor then they would have with a professional on the job.  It’s a fact that this is particularly true with plumbers.

People of varied ethnic backgrounds express the lack of knowledge about facts differently.  In the American vernacular, it is said that, “He doesn’t know s*** from shinola.” However, amongst the Italian community, the expression translates as, “He’s a shoemaker.”   This is why foreigners have such difficulty learning our language.  And that’s a fact! 

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