If A Cow Could Laugh
"As much as I hate to ask this question, I'm going to
take the plunge. What are you doing?"
"Whatta ya' mean, what am I doing?"
"For the past half hour I've been sitting here watching you stare off into space, then periodically scribble something down on that pad of paper you have in front of you. Now, I know you can't possibly be recording our runs for today."
"And just how do you know that, pally?"
"Because for one thing, I haven't asked you to do it a minimum of twenty times yet. And for another, you're sitting over there smiling and chuckling to yourself. Believe me, you never smile when you're trying to recreate our runs in written format."
"You've got a point there."
"So, what exactly are you doing that's bringing you so much unabashed glee?
"Well, okay. It's like this, Roy, have you ever stopped and contemplated the answers to some of life's really big questions?"
"You mean like why is there so much hatred in the world? Why are there wars? Or why are some people born with so much while others are born with nothing? Or why would a man want to physically abuse his wife? Or why do some children go to bed hungry at night? Or why--"
"Well, those weren't exactly the questions I had in mind. But yeah, you're kinda on the right track I guess."
"Johnny, if something's bothering you and you wanna talk about it, I'm always available."
"No, no. Nothing's bothering me. At least not anything as important as solving world hunger. But yeah, there are some questions that have been keepin' me awake at night lately that I've written down here today. With the other guys being tied up at that factory fire, meaning Chet's outta my hair for a few hours, I really had time to do some serious thinking about this stuff."
"Well, how about if you read your questions to me. I can't promise you that I can give you the answers, but I'm willing to listen if nothing else."
"Hey thanks, Roy. That'll be great. I might even start sleeping better once I have the chance to get these things off my chest."
"Now here's the first one. Roy, have you ever wondered why you need a driver's license to buy liquor when it's against the law to drink and drive?
"Or how about this. Why isn't the word phonetic spelled the way it sounds?"
"Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?"
"Why are there what?"
"Interstate highways in Hawaii. I can tell by the look on your face that you've never given that any thought, huh?"
"No. . .I can't say I have."
"Hawaii's an island, you know. Several islands actually. And the word Interstate means 'to go between states.' Now even Jennifer knows that there's no highway connecting Hawaii to the rest of the United States. So if a five year old knows that, don't you think it's kinda dumb to refer to Hawaiian highways as Interstates?"
"Um. . .well . . .I don't--"
"Roy. I said, even Jennifer knows that. Your five year old. I asked her."
"Only John Gage would base the answers to life's questions on what my five year old tells him."
"What was that?"
"Huh. . .nothing. Never mind. You're right. It's dumb."
"Interstate highways in Hawaii, you mean? They're dumb?"
"Something like that."
"I knew you'd see it my way. Now, ready for the next one?"
"As ready as I'll ever be."
"Why are there flotation devices under plane seats instead of parachutes?"
"Well, I suppose because...well...well I guess I don't know."
"See, that's really stupid, isn't it? That one's been keeping me awake for weeks now. Oh, here. How about this one? Why are cigarettes sold in gas stations when smoking is prohibited there?"
"And hey, have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?"
"No. Though I have imagined a world with a hypothetical partner on several occasions."
"For the sake your health, I'm choosing to ignore that comment. Now here's a good one. You know how much we like to watch the news in January and see the east coast buried in snow while thanking God we live in Southern California?"
"Well, have you ever wondered at those times how the guy who drives the snowplow gets to work?"
"No. I can't say that thought's ever crossed my mind."
"Geez, Roy, you're kinda' shallow, you know that?"
"If anyone but you had that opinion my feelings would be hurt."
"I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. Okay, here's the next one. If 7-11 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year like they advertise, why are there locks on the doors?"
"I haven't the foggiest notion."
"Neither do I. That's why I wrote it down on this piece of paper. Here's a good one I'll have to ask Joanne. If nothing ever sticks to Teflon, how do they make Teflon stick to the pan?"
"They use...well they use...well..."
"Ha! You don't know either, do you?"
"Let me think about it for a few minutes!"
"While you're thinkin' I'll move on to the next one. You know how when you drop a piece of toast it always seems to land with the buttered side down?"
"I don't drop toast. But yes, I've noticed that every time you drop toast it always lands buttered side down on the days Cap has assigned me to KP duty and I've just finished mopping the kitchen floor."
"That's exactly my point. The toast always lands buttered side down. So anyway, if you tied buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped that cat from a second story window, what do you think would happen?"
"Johnny! That's awful!"
"I didn't say I was gonna do it! I was only wonderin'. I mean, with the way cats always land feet first, you have to wonder what would happen if a guy did tie a buttered piece of toast to a cat's back. Do you think the cat would land on its feet, or would it land on its back on account of the buttered toast tied to--"
"First of all, who cares? And second of all, are the rest of your questions this stupid?"
"What do you mean stupid? These questions aren't stupid."
"Yes, they are!"
"No, they're not!"
"You can't answer them, can you?"
"See. I just proved it. Now onto the next one. Why do they make a Braille menu available at the drive-up window at McDonald's?"
"So that a blind person...well so that...well--"
"Gotcha! A blind person can't drive a car! Therefore, you have to wonder why they waste the money putting Braille menus at a drive-up window when--"
"Just forget it, Johnny."
"Not likely, 'cause I really want an answer to that one. I'll wait and ask Dix next time I see her."
"I'm sure she'll appreciate that."
"I'm sure she will, too. Now here's the next one."
"I can hardly wait."
"Why is it that when you transport something by car, it's called a shipment? But when you transport something by ship, it's called cargo?"
"Because with a car...well because with a ship...well because when you transport something...well it..."
"Come on, Roy. Just admit it. You don't know."
"You haven't given me a lot of time to think about it. It's not like anyone's ever asked me that question before."
"And you thought your partner was dumb."
"Believe me, none of this is disproving that theory."
"What was that?"
"Nothing. Never mind. Are we finished now?"
"No. I got a few more. You know that little indestructible black box that's used on planes? The one that they always retrieve after a big crash that has the flight recorder in it?"
"Why can't they make the whole plane out of that material?"
"Neither do I. But I think I'm gonna write the FAA and suggest it. You wanna sign your name to my letter, too?"
"No. You go ahead and take all the glory for that idea."
"Okay. If that's the way you want it. But don't say I didn't offer. Now on to the next question. You know how much I like milk, right?"
"I sure do."
"I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Milk I mean. Roy, do you think if a cow could laugh that milk would come out her nose?"
" 'Cause remember last week how I made you laugh when you were taking a drink of Pepsi and it all ran out your nose?"
"I've been trying to forget that."
"So anyhow, that made me wonder if the same thing could happen to a cow. That is, if a cow could laugh, of course."
"Of course. Are we finished yet?"
"No. I've got three more. First one. How come we call our turn-out gear turn-outs? "
"That's easy. Because we put them on when we turn-out to a fire."
"Yeah, but why don't we call them turn-downs?"
"Yeah. You know. 'Cause we actually turn our bunker pants down over our boots at night, not out over our boots. So I think they should be called turn-downs. As a matter of fact, I'm gonna suggest that to the chief."
"Johnny, I don't think that's such a good idea."
"Because Chief Carlson already thinks you have a few screws loose. I wouldn't give him reason to wonder what else is rattling free inside that head of yours."
"Oh, real cute, Roy. With a comment like that don't be thinking you can take any of the credit when every firefighter in this country starts calling his turn-outs by their proper name. Turn-downs."
"Don't worry. I'll allow you to take all the credit when the day comes I start referring to my turn-outs as turn-downs."
"Good. 'Cause after all, credit's deserved where credit's due. Now onto my next question. This one's really been buggin' me. Roy, do you think you'd need a silencer on a gun if you shot a mime?"
"Since I don't own a gun, let alone can't imagine ever having a reason to shoot a mime, I guess we'll never know the answer to that question, will we?"
"Guess not. And here's the last one. I saved it especially for you 'cause you always do this."
"Always do what?"
"Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the squad's radio?"
"It doesn't make you see better, does it?"
"And you don't have to hear anything in order to find an address, do you?"
"So see, it makes absolutely no sense. But a lot of people do that with their car radios, and you always do it with the squad's radio so that I can barely hear what dispatch is sayin'. You do it all the time, Roy, and you know it."
"Is that it? Are we finally done?"
"Yep, that's the last one."
"Good. Because now I have a few questions for you."
"Great! Just let me sharpen my pencil, then I'll add 'em to my list."
"You do that. First question. What would my life be like right now if I'd recruited Phil Andrews to be my partner all those years ago instead of you."
"Phil Andrews? You mean that quiet guy from '65's? The one everybody claims doesn't say two words during an entire shift?"
"What kind of a question is that?"
"One that allows me to contemplate blissful silence while wondering if
my life would have been easier."
"Well...I don't know. I guess I never really thought about it. Easier how?"
"Would that mean I'd never have to sleep in a convertible chair when I had reason to crash at my partner's house? Would that mean I'd know where the lawn mower is said partner borrowed two years ago now? Would that mean Joanne would have never been told her spaghetti isn't as good as Stoker's? Would that mean no one would have made popcorn with the lid off the popcorn maker for my children's amusement, only to leave me with one very angry wife because kernels were ground into the brand new carpeting?"
"I suppose that's a possibility, but--"
"Or if I tied a buttered piece of toast to your back and dropped you from a second story window, would you land on your head, in which case no damage would be done, or on your--"
"You're a real comedian, Roy. Ha. Ha. I think it's time to put away life's questions for today. I don't think I want to know the answers to some of them."
"I think that's a very wise idea, Johnny. After all, there truly are some questions, none of us were meant to the know the answers to."
"Amen to that, partner. Amen to that."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*Author's Note - Only a few of the above 'what if'
questions were fictionalized by the author. Most of them are a composite
of silly little things I've read in recent years that have given me a good
chuckle. I've never seen any person credited for this creativity,
therefore can't pass his or her name along. I simply took these little
works of creativity and turned them into something I could envision happening
in the fictional world of Emergency.