For some inexplicable reason (blame it on the coronavirus), I found myself thumbing through the pages of “Aries,” my old high school yearbook. In the special senior section, I was reminded once again I wasn’t voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Most Athletic” or even “Best Personality,” but I was singled out in a half-page picture as “Wittiest.” Even the caption under my senior portrait was accompanied with the quote, “He’s winding up the watch of wit, and by and by it will strike.”

My father, never tactful, said the “wittiest” label was just a polite way of calling me a smart aleck. He may have been right.

All my life I have appreciated those moments of quick, clever and often funny verbal wisecracks. And over the years I’ve attempted to live up to the honor of my high school wittiest designation by collecting tales and timely comments made by other quick-witted men and women.

One of my favorites is the one about a rural route mailman who had to hike up a very long country lane to deliver mail to a small farm.

“That’s a heck of a long lane to your farm,” he complained to the owner.

“Tis,” the farmer replied, “but if it was any shorter, it wouldn’t reach.”

Then there’s the old gent who put to use a wonderful burst of wit when an impatient motorist stopped and shouted at him, “Is this the way to Brighton? Come on, man, speak up, I’m in a hurry so can I get there this way?” The old man remained quiet and certainly did not appreciate the motorist’s rudeness. But he finally answered politely, “I don’t rightly know.”

“Well you sure don’t know much,” the motorist snapped back.

Smiling, the elderly gentleman agreed saying, “Maybe not,” but then he added boldly, “but at least I ain’t lost!”

Texans have always been ripe for sparks of witty rhetoric. Once for example, a wealthy Texas oilman was flying a Scotsman all over America showing him all the glorious sites in our nation and how much bigger and better everything is.

Their final port of call was Niagara Falls. “I’ll bet you’ve got nothing like that in Scotland,” the rich Texan bragged.

Shaking his head, the old Scotsman replied, “No, we surely don’t. But we’ve got plenty of plumbers in Glasgow who could soon fix it.”

Then there’s the very rich businessman who was challenged in his Sunday School class to read the Bible and learn something about the relationship between money and religion.

Responding to the class as to what he had learned, the astute man reported, “It’s clear that Noah was the only man able to float a company while the rest of the world was in liquidation.”

And just recently an elderly friend of mine was talking about how much times have changed with jet airplanes, televisions, computers, instant potatoes and frozen foods of every kind.

Then with his eyes twinkling, he said, “You know I can still remember when a pie was set on the windowsill to cool and not to thaw.”

To me, such quick-witted remarks are always better than some angry retort. They often take the heat out of the situation and turn what might cause ill temper into humor and laughter.

By the way, have you heard the story about butter? Well, I won’t tell you ‘cuz you might spread it.” Ok, that’s enough.

Mike Fitsko is a retired principal and longtime columnist from New Braunfels.

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