Hornswaggler | The culture, the humor, a bit of the sports, not so much the politics, and the workplace distraction

Hornswaggle is an alternate spelling of hornswoggle, an archaic word that means to bamboozle or hoodwink. I take my pronunciation from the late Harvey Korman in "Blazing Saddles" --

"I want rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, conmen, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers and Methodists!"

Culture, Humor, Sports
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Friday, October 25, 2002

Further chronicles of Birdegaard

Count Wrinklybottoms sat at a large rough-hewn wooden table in the bar of a roadside inn, which was nestled on the outskirts of the kingdom, relating the story of his escape from the snake pit to a rapt audience of fellow travelers. He was visibly drunk.

"So I said to myself, 'Wrinklybottoms old chap. Looks like you've had it this time.' It was a somber moment. But then I remembered I had one last trick up my sleeve: An amulet that, among its powers, allows the user to speak, on one solitary occasion, to the animals. So I dug it from my out my satchel, clutched it in my hand, and began speaking to the great beast."

There were murmurs of disbelief. Asked one of the fellow travelers, all of whom were also drunk, "And what did the snake say?"

"Oh, the usual stuff," Wrinklybottoms replied. "But then it felt it necessary to state the reality of the situation -- namely, that it planned shortly to strangle and devour me, slowly and messily. Well, that was the sticking point, alright. So I struck a bargain with the anaconda, who really was, as these things go, quite a charming and agreeable creature."

"And then what happened?" the fellow travelers demanded, of one voice.

"I asked it -- it's name was Henry, by the way. I said, 'Henry, how long has it been since you've eaten?' He answered that it had been quite some time. 'Well, Henry,' I proposed, 'instead of eating just one human morsel, wouldn't you prefer to eat two humans? I mean, wouldn't that be the sensible thing to do, Henry? Perhaps stash one away and save it for later?' 'I'm lissssssstening,' he replied.

"So I told Henry that, if he would lift me up upon his head to the rim of the great pit, I would grab the two guards, who were passed out over the poker table, and toss them down to him. 'That doessss ssssound very sensssssible,' Henry replied. So that's what we did. I clambered atop his head, which was roughly the size of a wheelbarrow bin, and he lifted me right up, warning me all the while in a very menacing way not to double-cross him. But once I got up there and saw the two guards, who had done me no wrong, and thought about the additional wrath I would incur for causing their demise, that's exactly what I did. I left a note telling the guards that a) they had really better think about applying themselves to their job with greater vigor and b) I had an alibi for them to use that might just save their lives, which I also wrote down. All the while Henry hissing and carrying on and making quite a racket down in the pit. 'Sorry, old boy,' I hollered, 'I'm sure we'll never meet again.' And off I went. And that, as they say, is that."

The fellow travelers leaned back in their seats, whistling in amazement. Then one of them with a rather bilious disposition, perhaps jealous of Wrinklybottom's sudden prestige among those at the table, asked with something like a snarl, "Say, what did you do to get thrown in that pit, anyway? Must have been something pretty awful, I imagine. What did you do to our king, eh?"

"Listen up," Wrinklybottoms shot back, "it's none of your business what I did and if I told you, you wouldn't understand. If anyone here has a problem with what I may or may not have done, I'll meet them out front of the inn at dawn -- swords or pistols. Now if you'll excuse me, gentlemen, I have some business to attend to."

Wrinklybottoms pushed back his chair and stood up from the table. He staggered into the wall. He regained his balance and composure and headed towards the bar, where an attractive and sophisticated-looking woman sat alone with a drink. The men in the taproom had noticed her and talked about her with averted eyes and voices loud enough for her to hear, but none had dared approach her. Wrinklybottoms bellied up to the bar.

"I noticed you from across the room," Wrinklybottoms said lamely. "What are you drinking?"

"Yes, I noticed you too," she retorted. "Leering at me."

"I was not leering at you, Madame. I was ogling."

"I see," she replied, laughing. "That's an interesting distinction."

"And an important one."

"But I'm not sure you're my type," she said. "Drunk and disorderly, you know."

"Oh come on. You'll let me have a break from that lot over there and sit down, won't you? Pretty please? I have a big penis," he added, in a pleading and half-ironic tone. "Perhaps that will tip the balance in my favor?"

She looked at him with bemusement, then cocked her head, scrunched up her nose and said, "What the hell. Why not?" The count grinned.

"On the condition that you leave your genitals out of it," she warned. Wrinklybottoms frowned.

.: posted by hornswaggler 4:47 PM

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