One can act intelligent or pretend to be serious and get away with it but one can never pretend to be witty. I had always harbored a desire to possess wit, having always been impressed by those individuals who can keep people enthralled with the sheer wit of their words. People who throw casual one-liners with an almost regal air have always had a profound impact on me. I, and thousand others who are a little slow, always think of a million witty rejoinders three days after somebody has had a laugh at their expense. One morning I woke up and vowed to be as witty as any one else. I decided to work really hard at it. Needless to say that this declaration came after a particularly humbling experience.
My journey to becoming a great wit wasn’t paying off and was filled with one obstacle after another. Whenever I made any comment which I thought to be witty, my mother castigated me to no end about propriety and etiquette. She had an idea how teenage girls should behave and she was not happy at all with a smart ass motor mouth of a daughter. One day I was singing (read screaming) along with Madonna in my room thinking myself as the new pop sensation, when my sister came in, lowered the volume and said: “What will the neighbours think?” I responded, “If they could think, they wouldn’t live next to us.” She went straight to our mother and I was told to be more respectful of elders.
I distinctly remember the time when I was busy watching a lousy soap the night before my calculus test: my mother was threatening me of dire consequences if I didn’t go to my room and study for the test. “I don’t know what I am going to do with you,” she wailed. I switched off the TV and languidly said: “Try leaving me alone and see if it works.” Needless to say my mother did everything but leave me alone for the next three months. Another attempt at wit proved futile.
Although I think I have grown well into my sarcastic persona, (at least in my own estimation), my endeavors at wit continue to fail. Once my ex-boss stormed into my cubicle and said: “I gave you a simple task and you couldn’t even do it.” I shrugged and said: “That’s because I am not simple like you.” That obviously was the last day at that particular job and I have wizened up since.
I think I am yet to muster enough savoir-faire to say things and get away with them. I am still working on my poise. So far my finest hour has been my response to a former colleague who was curious about my age and asked when I would turn 25 and I replied: “When I am all done with being 24.”
This is an extract of an old article of mine that was published in Dawn about half a century ago and I just noticed it on someone else’s blog.