Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
I need your help. I’m looking for a recipe for homemade gruel. I figured if anyone would have one, it would be you.
I am a billionaire hedge fund manager who just purchased a financially-distressed chain of orphanages for pennies on the dollar. But the bad news is, I now must find a way to feed thousands of orphans in the most cost-effective manner.
I really hope you have the solution!
Bill, as in Billionaire
You are correct to assume that I might well know how to whip up a steaming batch o’ gruel. After all, I spent five years of my adolescence as an inmate in a state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). Thus, gruel was a common staple of the diet served the inmates.
But remember, I was not involved in the making of the gruel. All I did was try my best not to eat it.
However, your inquiry inspired me to try to track down the infamous SHIT gruel master, whose name was Tex. Much to my surprise and delight, I found him alive and well and living a quiet retirement in his home state of New Mexico. (Don’t ask me why they called him Tex. I guess it sounds better than New Mex.)
When I asked if he would be so kind as to share his secret recipe for homemade gruel, he laughed. Tex said making truly authentic gruel requires exotic ingredients that are very hard to find, such as the snot of a syphilitic yak, which is only available on the black market.
Because SHIT was a state institution, Tex said the food budget was way too small for him to able to make genuine gruel. He confessed that what came up on our food trays was powdered, instant gruel. Just add lukewarm tap water, stir and serve.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, Bill. Just tell the orphans to eat cake.
My mother posed a question to me as a child that perplexes me to this day. She said , “If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” I have tried in vain to come up with an answer and can only surmise that this must be a rhetorical question. What do you think?
Zoe Z. Zola
Parents have been tormenting their children with this question for generations. It’s their subtle way of demonstrating their advanced intelligence. They take sadistic delight in observing our befuddlement
But you can tell your mom that you finally have the answer to her question:
Because the truth is, it’s impossible to pick a pickled pepper. Pickling is a manmade process that involves fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. No pepper is born pickled. It must be picked BEFORE it can be pickled! The best Peter Piper could have possibly done was pick a peck of regular peppers and then pickled them.
Tell this to your mother and watch the smug smirk of superiority disappear from her face. She’ll realize you are no longer a child and have become, in fact, a force to be reckoned with.
This legendary tongue-twister ought to be abolished in the name of preventing cruelty to children. Or at the very least, it should be updated to, “Peter Piper pooped a peck of pickled peppers.” This would imply that Peter Piper picked a peck of peppers, pickled them, ate them and then pooped them out. I fully acknowledge that this scenario is highly improbable, but at least it’s possible. And it still retains its enduring, alliterative charm.
Dear Mr. Smart Ass,
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they're forever banned?
Dear Bobby Z,
The answer, my friend, is twelve.
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