Sunday, July 1, 2012
The Meaning of Gumpton
After trekking several thousand feet up to the summit of one of the lesser Himalayas, I entered the heated tent of the Wise Man and said, "Wise Man, may I ask you a question?"
"Yes, my son," the Wise Man said.
"Don't My Son me," I said. "I'm 62 years old and don't have an ounce of the DNA for wisdom in me."
"As you wish, Mon Frere," the Wise Man said.
"Mon Frere my ear," said I. "You're 140 if you're a day, do I look like I could be your brother?"
"What is your question?" the Wise Man asked, appearing just the least bit agitated.
"What is the meaning of gumption?" I asked.
"Of gumption?" the Wise Man repeated. "Is that all you want to know? Most people who climb the thousands of feet through winding mountain trails, leaping crevasses in a single bound, ask me far more difficult questions, like 'What is the meaning of life?'"
"I already know the meaning of life," said I. "You either get it with parole or without."
"I will tell you the meaning of gumption," said the Wise Man.
"Thank you," I said. "My feet are killing me. I knew I shouldn't have gotten my climbing shoes at Walmart."
"Let me tell you about a friend of mine," the Wise Man said. "My friend took his wife out to lunch at a fancy restaurant, and each of them had an expensive meal."
"This is gumption?" I said.
"Let me finish," the Wise Man said. "After my friend finished his ahi ahi tuna salad, cleaning his plate he enjoyed the salad so much ..."
"The salad was made with Chicken of the Sea?" I said. "Is that gumption?"
"Stop interrupting me," the Wise Man said. "As my friend was applying a linen napkin to his lips, his wife pointed out that there was a strand of hair on his plate. 'WAITER!!!!' my friend cried out. 'There was a hair in my salad!" He then took out his iPhone and snapped a picture of the forlorn looking strand of hair that there but for the sharp eye of his better half he might have ingested along with his ahi ahi tuna."
"I'll be right back," the waiter said, returning shortly thereafter with an adjusted check, with some fifteen dollars, the price of his ahi ahi tuna, deducted and the words "HAIR ON PLATE" written on the check. My friend took one look at the adjusted bill, summoned the waiter back, and said "You forgot to deduct the coupon I gave you for a free appetizer."
"Aha!" I said. "Now I see. So that is gumption?"
"You got it, Bro," said the Wise Man.
"By the way," I said, "there wouldn't happen to be an elevator to the base of this mountain, would there?"
"Don't push your luck," the Wise Man said.