A supposedly true story...
In a local county courthouse the Clerk of Court hated fake Christmas trees, so he always put up a real tree in the Clerk's office every year. One year the Fire Marshal happened to do a building inspection of the courthouse just before Christmas, while the Clerk was out to lunch, and noticed the tree. In the belief that the tree represented a fire hazard, he proceeded to write a citation for a violation of the fire code, which prohibited "live" trees in a public building, and gave it to the Clerk's assistant.
When the Clerk returned from lunch and was given the citation, he hit the roof. Determined that no Fire Marshal was going to spoil his Christmas, he decided to fight the citation. So he went to the morgue in the adjoining police station, and asked the Coroner for his help. The Coroner came over and put a toe tag on the tree, listing the cause of death as "Being cut off at ground level".
The Clerk called the Fire Marshal back to re-inspect, and showed him the toe tag on the tree. He told him that when the Coroner pronounces something "dead", it is *legally* dead, and therefore the citation for having a "live" tree was obviously in error, and wasn't worth the paper it was written on.
The Fire Marshal thought about it, and came to the realization that, since he would have to pursue the fire code violation in that very courtroom, this was probably one argument he wasn't going to win. So he let them have their tree.
THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT TRIUMPHS OVER THE GRINCHES OF THE WORLD ONCE AGAIN!
IMPORTANT! READ THIS BEFORE USING YOUR NEW DEVICE
Congratulations! You have purchased an extremely fine device that would give you thousands of years of trouble-free service, except that you undoubtedly will destroy it via some typical bonehead consumer maneuver. Which is why we ask you to:
PLEASE FOR GOD'S SAKE READ THIS OWNER'S MANUAL CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU UNPACK THE DEVICE. YOU ALREADY UNPACKED IT, DIDN'T YOU? YOU UNPACKED IT AND PLUGGED IT IN AND TURNED IT ON AND FIDDLED WITH THE KNOBS, AND NOW YOUR CHILD, THE SAME CHILD WHO ONCE SHOVED A POLISH SAUSAGE INTO YOUR VIDEOCASSETTE RECORDER AND SET IT ON "FAST FORWARD", THIS CHILD ALSO IS FIDDLING WITH THE KNOBS, RIGHT? WE MIGHT AS WELL JUST BREAK THESE DEVICES RIGHT AT THE FACTORY BEFORE WE SHIP THEM OUT, YOU KNOW THAT?!?
We're sorry. We just get a little crazy sometimes because we're always getting back "defective" merchandise where it turns out that the consumer inadvertently bathed the device in acid for six days. So, in writing these instructions, we naturally tend to assume that your skull is filled with dead insects, but we mean nothing by it. OK? Now let's talk about:
1. UNPACKING THE DEVICE
The device is encased in foam to protect it from the Shipping People, who like nothing more than to jab spears into outgoing boxes.
PLEASE INSPECT THE CONTENTS CAREFULLY FOR GASHES OR IDA MAE BARKER'S ENGAGEMENT RING, WHICH SHE LOST LAST WEEK, AND SHE THINKS MAYBE IT WAS WHILE SHE WAS PACKING DEVICES.
Ida Mae really wants that ring back, because it is her only proof of engagement, and her fiancee, Stuart, is now seriously considering backing out on the whole thing in as much as he had consumed most of a bottle of Jim Beam in Quality Control when he decided to pop the question. It is not without irony that Ida Mae's last name is "Barker", if you get our drift.
WARNING: DO NOT EVER AS LONG AS YOU LIVE THROW AWAY THE BOX OR ANY OF THE PIECES OF STYROFOAM, EVEN THE LITTLE ONES SHAPED LIKE PEANUTS.
If you attempt to return the device to the store, and you are missing one single peanut, the store personnel will laugh in the chilling manner exhibited by Joseph Stalin just after he enslaved Eastern Europe.
Besides the device, the box should contain:
* Eight little rectangular snippets of paper that say "WARNING" * A little plastic packet containing four 5/17 inch pilfer grommets and two club-ended 6/93 inch boxcar prawns.
YOU WILL NEED TO SUPPLY: a matrix wrench and 60,000 feet of tram cable.
IF ANYTHING IS DAMAGED OR MISSING: You IMMEDIATELY should turn to your spouse and say "Margaret, you know why this country can't make a car that can get all the way through the drive-through at Burger King without a major transmission overhaul? Because nobody cares, that's why."
WARNING: This is assuming your spouse's name is Margaret. And not Pete.
2. PLUGGING IN THE DEVICE
The plug on this device represents the latest thinking of the electrical industry's Plug Mutation Group, which, in a continuing effort to prevent consumers from causing hazardous electrical current to flow through their appliances, developed the Three-Pronged Plug, then the Plug Where One Prong is Bigger Than the Other. Your device is equipped with the revolutionary new Plug Whose Prongs Consist of Six Small Religious Figurines Made of Chocolate.
DO NOT TRY TO PLUG IT IN!
Lay it gently on the floor near an outlet, but out of direct sunlight, and clean it weekly with a damp handkerchief.
WARNING: WHEN YOU ARE LAYING THE PLUG ON THE FLOOR, DO NOT HOLD A SHARP OBJECT IN YOUR OTHER HAND AND TRIP OVER THE CORD AND POKE YOUR EYE OUT, AS THIS COULD VOID THE WARRANTY.
3. OPERATION OF THE DEVICE
WARNING: WE MANUFACTURE ONLY THE ATTRACTIVE DESIGNER CASE. THE ACTUAL WORKING CENTRAL PARTS OF THE DEVICE ARE MANUFACTURED IN JAPAN. THE INSTRUCTIONS WERE TRANSLATED BY MRS. SHIRLEY PELTWATER OF ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE, WHO HAS NEVER ACTUALLY BEEN TO JAPAN BUT DOES HAVE MOST OF "SHOGUN" ON TAPE.
INSTRUCTIONS: For results that can be the finest, it is our advising that: NEVER to hold these buttons two times!! Except the battery. Next taking the (something) earth section may cause a large occurrence! However. If this is not a trouble, such rotation is a very maintenance action, as a kindly (something) virepoint from Drawing B.
Be it hereby known that this device, together with but not excluding all those certain parts thereunto, shall be warrantied against all defects, failures and malfunctions as shall occur between now and Thursday afternoon shortly before 2, during which time the Manufacturer will, at no charge to the Owner, send the device to our Service People, who will emerge from their caves and engage in rituals designed to cleanse it of evil spirits. This warranty does not cover the attractive designer case.
WARNING: IT MAY BE A VIOLATION OF SOME LAW THAT MRS. SHIRLEY PELTWATER HAS "SHOGUN" ON TAPE.
Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter "the House") a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.
A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter "Claus") would arrive at sometime thereafter.
The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.
Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as "I"), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the parts of the second part (hereinafter "Mamma"), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap.)
Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e. the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance.
At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter "the Vehicle") being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was the aforementioned Claus.
Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter "the Deer"). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional co-conspirator named "Rudolph" may have been involved.)
The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.
Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.
Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts.
(Said items did not, however, constitute "gifts" to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)
Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as "lookouts." Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.
However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night", or words to that effect.
T'was the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including the species of domestic rodent known as Mus Musculus.
Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning caloric apparatus pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of Saint Nicholas.
The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums.
My conjugal partner and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof.
Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration. Noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself. Thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance, drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer.
Piloted by a minuscule aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller.
With his ungulate motive power traveling at what may have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predators, he vorcified loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective cognomen: "Now Dasher, now Dancer", et al...
Guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities. As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180 degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved -- with utmost celerity and via a downward leap -- entry by the way of the smoke passage.
He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebon residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle. His orbs were scilliant with reflected luminosity, while his submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability.
The capillaries of his molar regions and nasal protuberance were engorged with blood which suffused in subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral emblem, the later that of the Prunus Avium, or Sweet Cherry.
His amusing sub- and supra-labials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small tabular and columnar crystals being.
Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose gray fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occupant, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly.
His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container.
He was, in short, neither more or less than obese, jocund, multigenarial gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being.
By rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head to one side he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.
Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the afore-mentioned hosiery with various of the afore-mentioned articles of merchandise extracted from his afore-mentioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle.
Upon completion of his task, he executed an abrupt about face, placed a singular manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating, in reverse, the smoke passage.
He propelled himself in short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed.
But I overheard his parting exclamation, audibly immediately prior to his vahiculation beyond the limits of visibility:
"Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to that self-same assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn!"
©2000-2001 James Fuqua
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