Category: Humor (Page 1 of 28)

Short essays that I have written

Final Exams

This is the time of the year (in America) when high school and college students have “final” exams. They are final in the sense that the course or subject is done for the semester and they are also final in the sense that it is the end of the line if you fail the exam. You either have to repeat the subject or forget about it.

We have, at present, two grandchildren at Baylor University and one at Live Oak Classical School. They do not like finals and who can blame them? The teachers seem to ask the wrong questions and don’t grade fairly—or so I am told—and that is, more or less, how I remember the finals that I took in college—more than 60 years ago!

Our former pastor in Dallas (Tony Evans) used to say, “Tell the truth and shame the devil,” so I will shame him (or her—there must be she-devils) a bit right now. In college I failed two subjects—not finals, fortunately—and had to repeat the tests. One was advanced algebra, and the other was ancient history. To this day I don’t know why I failed, except that I worked 48 hours a week and slept through several classes. One, which I didn’t fail, was the History of Missions. Joice was in the class too and sat in the front row and answered all the questions—sometimes before the teacher could ask them. One reason I married her was to find out what the questions were. The teacher of the Mission’s class loved Joice (naturally) but had a different emotional response to me. One day she called Joice into her office and said, “Are you interested in Karl Franklin?” Joice was dating other men, as well as me at the time, said “No.” The professor was delighted. “That’s good, Joice, because God has someone very special in mind for you.” Obviously, she didn’t think it was me.

Later this same professor was in charge of the Mission’s department at Biola University and we stopped by to see her when returning from a furlough. “I’m going to ask her what she meant by thinking I was not special,” I said—quite untruthfully—to Joice. And of course, Joice was worried that I would, but I didn’t. I was afraid of the answer!

In college the Dean had two lists and I made both of them. One was an academic achievement list, which I made one semester, and the other was a suspect nuisance list and I made it a couple of times, although I was exonerated each time. In college I received an “education” but did not learn much. 

After college I attended the Biola School of Missionary Medicine (SMM), took final exams, and received a diploma in “Laboratory Science.” It helped me to get a job the next year at a pharmacy at a hospital in Pontiac, Michigan. The final exams at the SMM gave me credentials to sit for the Board exam for Licensed Vocational Nurses. I didn’t because I wanted to leave California quickly and return to Michigan with the hope that Joice would agree to marry me. 

While we were in Papua New Guinea for our first term a professor from the University of Michigan came to our center to conduct a linguistic workshop for a semester. Both Joice and I consulted with him (as did a couple of dozen others) on our language data and he often ate lunch with us. He must have seen some promise in me because one day he asked, “Franklin, have you ever thought of going to graduate school?” I replied, “Dr Pike, with my grades, I don’t think I could get into graduate school.” I was not prepared for his next question, “To what school would you like to go?” Cornell University was not far from where I grew up in Pennsylvania, so I threw out that name. Dr Pike called or somehow quickly got ahold of the head linguistics professor at Cornell and I was accepted. No GRE, no exams, just the word from Pike, who happened to be one of the best-known linguists in the world at the time and a member of our organizations (WBT and SIL).

At Cornell I was a graduate assistant to the professor who had approved my attending Cornell. I studied for an M.A. in anthropology and linguistics, which I achieved in just over a year because I transferred in 30 hours of graduate credit in linguistics from the University of Oklahoma. My final was an oral, administered by two professors—an anthropologist and a linguist. I passed and was told I could pursue PhD studies there. I didn’t because I wanted to study in Australia, which was much closer to Papua New Guinea, where I would do fieldwork.

Another little “shame the devil” story. While at Cornell I had to pass an exam in German and I failed it the first time, which meant taking it again. I needed it to graduate. The second time I thought I had done well but my grade was posted on the bulletin board as a “fail.” (This was when the names and grades of students were publicly posted—imagine that happening now!) I went to see the exam supervisor and learned that there was an internal and an external grader. One failed me and one passed me, so I could appeal. I went to a Dean of something or other and pleaded my case. He called my linguistic professor, and I was again exonerated. Talk about mercy and grace!

My exam for my PhD from the Australian National University, located in Canberra, was also an oral exam. This time I had three external examiners, a professor from Auckland University, another from the University of Papua New Guinea, and the third from the University of Hawaii. I passed—quite easily it turned out—because no one had ever written a grammar or done a dialect study on the Kewa language. I not only knew the answers but had a good idea of what the questions would be.

The next exam may be my most difficult: it will be at the judgment seat of Christ and, if my theology is correct, there will be questions about how I have lived my life here on earth. However, I have been promised even more mercy and grace by my supervisor, the Lord Himself. Just a word from Him, like from the university professor who got me into Cornell, and I will be awarded the crown of life. 

That is the diploma I most desire.

The View from the Ceiling

My name is Sparkie. I am a spider and I live on the ceiling, near the east column on the porch of the Hardin’s house. Some sophisticated insects refer to that area as the “verandah,” but I will use the more common term. After all it is a porch. I looked it up on spiderweb.com where it says, somewhat incorrectly, that a porch is “a covered shelter projecting in front of the entrance of a building.” In fact, porches may be at the front, back, or sides of a house.

All that is not important—I just wanted to make it clear that I have a good view of what is going on back there. But first let me tell you a bit about myself:

According to sickipedia on the spiderweb, I have 900 cousins and I am (probably) not a gray wall jumping spider, because my front legs that are not thicker and longer than my other legs. 

I have eight eyes situated in three rows. In the front row, I have four eyes with the two middle eyes being very large and needing contacts. However, I have the best day time eyesight of any spider species, so I can see and act upon movement up to eighteen inches away. I can jump from place to place, up to twenty-five times my body length. You will usually find me outdoors, but I also like to hang out around windows and doors. I learned that a number of my relatives have been killed inside the Hardin house, so I won’t go there.

I have lived in Woodway for 16 years, spider time, and have been around the web a few times. I don’t like dogs, so I stay clear of the one at Hardin’s house—he has been known to eat spiders. That isn’t so bad, but then he throws them up and eats them a second time.

It is now November, so I won’t be around much longer, and it has not been a good October. Not only did the humans have a ravaging disease—I have heard them refer to 19 kinds of a Kobid—but it has also been a sparce season for spider meals. For some reason, there are not many flies about this year and the ants won’t come up this high. You would think that I could catch a cockroach or even a tiny lizard, but I can’t and three of my legs are shriveling up (I have 16, so don’t worry)

Today, however, was my lucky day. The Hardin family and the Franklin family were sitting on the back porch for their Thanksgiving dinner. They had four computers hooked up so they could all look at each other and at the Hardin grandparents, who were in Tulsa—wherever that is.

Mrs. Hardin (Karol) kept eyeing me, so to speak, because she doesn’t like air-breathing arthropods that have even eight legs. She screams if we go near her, causing great buzzing and humming in the insect Kingdom, and alerting her husband that she desperately needs help. Today was one of those days and it wasn’t my fault.

A harmless hornet was buzzing around looking for some sugar to sip and it was causing great alarm to Mrs. Hardin. She arose hastily from her chair, yelled for her husband and retreated behind the center column. It was pathetic yet humorous to see—spiders get a real belly laugh when they see humans frightened.

Mr. Hardin (Mike) went in his house and brought out an enormous machine with a long gun-like barrel attached to it. He pushed a switch, and the barrel began to suck air, so much so that many of the humans coughed and gasped. At first, I could not be sure what the intent of the barrel was because Mr. Hardin swung it around like a fly swatter and in the process sucked up a serving of mashed potatoes and a big slice of turkey. I could tell it was a lethal weapon and that he was after that hornet. There, were (and it is the past tense), in fact three hornets but two of them departed to the bowels of the gun barrel. A slight zipping noise and they were gone. The lone hornet now seemed confused and headed again for Mrs. Hardin and again she departed like a bee leaving its hive. Mr. Hardin was rescuing Mrs. Hardin from having her own hives.

What was luck for me is that in his waving the gun barrel about he chased the hornet in my direction. I quickly jumped a meter (3 feet) to the right and grasped the evil hornet with 6 of my legs and then sprang back to my web. I then entombed the poor creature in my web by wrapping part of it around him (I presume only male hornets are dangerous) and letting him slowly suffocate. 

I must tell you Mrs. Hardin: he is delicious, the ribbed cage is particularly succulent and the back and front legs are dissolving into a mushy soup, much like you make in your kitchen—so I am told. I will soon be sucking on them.

It has been a great Thanksgiving, although it started out poorly. I hope Mrs. Hardin, that you will look up at me on your ceiling with grateful praise on your lips. And as for Mr. Hardin, I hope he will put that gun barrel back in the house.

Sparkie Spider
Thanksgiving dinner
November 26, 2020

Political Parties

It is the year of national elections (2020) and we have received our mail-in absentee ballots. There are five options for president on the document, each representing a particular party: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green and Constitutional.

Political parties are, according to Wikipedia, “organized group[s] of people who have the same ideology or who otherwise have the same political positions.” Their candidates “thereby implement their agenda.”

But why name them parties? The main definition for “party” is “a social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment.” A secondary meaning is “a formally constituted political group, typically operation on a national basis, that contests elections and attempts to form or take part in a government.”

Although our elections often seem to favor the primary meaning, “involving eating, drinking and entertainment,” we will assume that the secondary meaning is what is in mind for the ballots we just received. 

But what happens if there is no party that presents a candidate that we like? In this case there is a box we can check for a “write-in” vote, generally understood as one that is wasted. There is no record of anyone winning as a “voto escrito,” even if they spoke Spanish.

The problem, as we see it, is that the “parties” are not truly representative of our great American nation and cultures. We believe that we need another party, one that truly represents our once-great American nation, and that it should be the VEGETARIAN party. You will soon realize why once I outline our platform.

Every party has a platform, which is a “raised level surface on which people or things can stand.” In this case it will be “things,” although vegetables are alive and have feelings. Haven’t you ever been “rotten as a tomato,” or “bright as a peach”?

A plank is “a long, thin, flat piece of timber” that is the fundamental point of a political party. It is often used as the side-walls for raised gardens, which brings me to our first Vegetarian (get used to saying that word) promise:

  1. We promise that every home will have a vegetable garden. America was built on topsoil and it is the most underused and overpriced ingredient sold at stores like Walmart. We promise that gardens will become so common that future generations will have to be told the meaning of words like “cement” and “asphalt.” Two of our slogans will be “It takes a garden to raise a vegetable” and “no vegetable left behind.”
  2. We promise that every vegetable will be represented and that minority ones like kale, rutabaga and spinach will be given every opportunity to grow to their full potential and be sold. Of course, staples like potatoes and corn will always be a solid plank on the Vegetarian platform and symbolize the great vegetable farmers on our planet. The same goes for beans and cabbage—their explosive nature will be dramatized by scenes of cows eating them.
  3. We promise that our children will receive free copies of “Veggie Tales” and that they will be given free apples and turnips at school. But “why turnips?” you may ask. Turnips are one of the most neglected of all vegetables, except perhaps for beetroot, pole beans and sour cabbage. Children will learn to love turnips because we will put a small gummie in each one given out at school.
  4. We promise that we will allow vegetables to grow sideways. Our culture has learned to grow them upside down and right side up, but not sideways. However, it has been proven by psychologists that some vegetables prefer to grow differently than the prescribed, standard way, and that we should let them grow however they wish.
  5. We promise to abolish all greenhouses. These veritable prisons cook the skins and wilt the leaves of many vegetables. It is undemocratic and unconstitutional to imprison any vegetable in such hothouses. We also promise to recycle the glass from greenhouses.
  6. We promise universal care for any ailing vegetable, including free transportation in government owned wheelbarrows to bulb, stem, leaf and tuber hospitals that will be established within a mile of any garden. Infusions of broccoli juice, as well as soybean vitamins will be available. No vegetable with a preexisting condition—like that of mushrooms, okra or pumpkin—will be without affordable medical care.
  7. We promise to promote raw vegetable consumption and digestion. It has been proven by science and Reader’s Digest that cooking a vegetable changes its essence—the very core beliefs that are inherent in its structure.
  8. We promise that the very soul of our civilization—vegetable growth and care—will be re-established throughout our nation. Edible flowers will be optional, but available to plant along the border of any garden. All vegetables will be equal, although, as someone once said, “some will be more equal than others.” In addition, we promise that all vegetables will be allowed to carry vegetable peelers for protection.
  9. We promise that in the next 20 years we will grow vegetables on the moon and Mars. Our platform includes a new “Vegetables in Space” floorboard which will allow all future immigrants and aliens to eat aloft without needing Greencards or Visas. Immigrant vegetables, like Irish potatoes and Dutch stamppot are part of our tradition.
  10. Finally, Vegetarians promise to develop a vaccine that will make the sight of meat revolting. Animals will be safe to grow freely and roam anywhere, except in gardens. One exception may be cats, which seem to be natural predators of vegetables.

Earl Framklin, chairperson,

The Vegetarian National Committee
Waco (sometimes pronounced Wack-o), Texas
October, 2020

Note: no actual vegetable has been harmed in the writing of this essay.

Political Parties

It is the year of national elections (2020) and we have received our mail-in absentee ballots. There are five options for president on the document, each representing a particular party: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green and Constitutional.

Political parties are, according to Wikipedia, “organized group[s] of people who have the same ideology or who otherwise have the same political positions.” Their candidates “thereby implement their agenda.”

But why name them parties? The main definition for “party” is “a social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment.” A secondary meaning is “a formally constituted political group, typically operation on a national basis, that contests elections and attempts to form or take part in a government.”

Although our elections often seem to favor the primary meaning, “involving eating, drinking and entertainment.” We will assume that the secondary meaning is what is in mind for the ballots we just received. 

But what happens if there is no party that presents a candidate that we like? In this case there is a box we can check for a “write-in” vote, generally understood as one that is wasted. There is no record of anyone winning as a “voto escrito,” even if they spoke Spanish.

The problem, as we see it, is that the “parties” are not truly representative of our great American nation and cultures. We believe that we need another party, one that truly represents our once-great American nation, and that it should be the VEGETARIAN party. You will soon realize why once I outline our platform.

Every party has a platform, which is a “raised level surface on which people or things can stand.” In this case it will be “things,” although vegetables are alive and have feelings. Haven’t you ever felt “rotten as a tomato,” or “bright as a peach”?

A plank is “a long, thin, flat piece of timber” that is the fundamental point of a political party. It is often used as the side-walls for raised gardens, which brings me to our first Vegetarian (get used to saying that word) floorboard:

  1. We promise that every home will have a vegetable garden. America was built on topsoil and it is the most underused and overpriced ingredient sold at stores like Walmart. We promise that gardens will become so common that future generations will have to be told the meaning of words like “cement” and “asphalt.” Two of our slogans will be “It takes a garden to raise a vegetable” and “no vegetable left behind.”
  2. We promise that every vegetable will be represented and that minority ones like kale, rutabaga and spinach will be given every opportunity to grow to their full potential and be sold. Of course, staples like potatoes and corn will always be a solid plank on the Vegetarian platform and symbolize the great vegetable farmers on our planet. The same goes for beans and cabbage—their explosive nature will be dramatized by scenes of cows eating them.
  3. We promise that our children will receive free copies of “Veggie Tales” and that they will be given free apples and turnips at school. But “why turnips?” you may ask. Turnips are one of the most neglected of all vegetables, except perhaps for beetroot, pole beans and sour cabbage. Children will learn to love turnips because we will put a small gummie in each one given out at school.
  4. We promise that we will allow vegetables to grow sideways. Our culture has learned to grow them upside down and right side up, but not sideways. However, it has been proven by psychologists that some vegetables prefer to grow differently than the prescribed, standard way, and that we should let them grow however they wish
  5. We promise to abolish all greenhouses. These veritable prisons cook the skins and wilt the leaves of many vegetables. It is undemocratic and unconstitutional to imprison any vegetable in such hothouses. We also promise to recycle the glass from greenhouses.
  6. We promise universal care for any ailing vegetable, including free transportation in government owned wheelbarrows to bulb, stem, leaf and tuber hospitals that will be established within a mile of any garden. Infusions of broccoli juice, as well as soybean vitamins will be available. No vegetable with a preexisting condition—like that of mushrooms, okra or pumpkin—will be without affordable medical care.
  7. We promise to promote raw vegetable consumption and digestion. It has been proven by science and Reader’s Digest that cooking a vegetable changes its essence—the very core beliefs that are inherent in its structure.
  8. We promise that the very soul of our civilization—vegetable growth and care—will be re-established throughout our nation. Edible flowers will be optional, but available to plant along the border of any garden. All vegetables will be equal, although, as someone once said, “some will be more equal than others.” In addition, we promise that all vegetables will be allowed to carry vegetable peelers for protection.
  9. We promise that in the next 20 years we will grow vegetables on the moon and Mars. Our platform includes a new “Vegetables in Space” floorboard which will allow all future immigrants and aliens to eat aloft without needing Greencards or Visas. Immigrant vegetables, like Irish potatoes and Dutch stamppot are part of our tradition.
  10. Finally, Vegetarians promise to develop a vaccine that will make the sight of meat revolting. Animals will be safe to grow freely and roam anywhere, except in gardens. One exception may be cats, which seem to be natural predators of vegetables.

Earl Framklin, chairperson,

The Vegetarian National Committee
Waco (sometimes pronounced Wack-o), Texas
October, 2020

Relics and Things like That

Come along with me to Heaven for an imaginary visit: it is now the “year” 2050 and I have been here many “years,” although we don’t count “years” in heaven. However, I will use the term as a reference point for mere “earthlings.”

I have been watching—whenever I am off-duty from polishing harps and repairing clanging cymbals—some of the churches down there in Waco. One is of particular interest: The DaySpring Church, near Lake Waco. Yes, the lake is still there, although difficult to make out clearly from Heaven because of dead fish, rotting boats and fishermen, and mountains of discarded HEB plastic bags. 

About the “year” 2035, an unusual phenomenon occurred at DaySpring: a small cigar-shaped box was place in the narthex, just underneath a large painting of an oak tree. Inside the box was the right and left big toe knuckles of two former pastors, with their names engraved on the box and part of Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet of those….” The names of the pastors are difficult to read but look like Saint Erickson and Saint Burlikson. However, it is not our heavenly intention to draw attention or lend homage to any person (or relic) down there.

Nevertheless, we must be truthful: upon entering the sanctuary, parishioners are allowed (some would say encouraged) to touch the box or bow slightly before it. It was not done by everyone—indeed, some people were inwardly exasperated that the box was in the narthex and not in the chapel, where other relics and trinkets were kept. 

For in the chapel was one of St. Sid’s shoes, the right one, which he always used to tap out his offertory pieces on the piano. Also, hanging on the wall was the wand that one of the music directors had used to direct the choir. It was made of ivory and is said to have been carved with great precision by the former owners of the “Silos.” I should also mention the canes and walkers that had once been used by an ancient and well-respected members of the congregation. These hung on the wall of the chapel, where once a cross had been. Just why this was done is not clear, even to us in Heaven, but it seems that the cane represented Leviticus 27:32, where every tenth animal passed under the shepherd’s rod and the walker symbolized the chariots that were submerged in the Red Sea.

To the right was a large glass enclosed diorama of various ancient, but sacred items: the ukulele once played by St Dale of Baroon, a hymn book opened to page 368 (or 563, the pages were faded and there were arguments about it every Sunday), a microphone, once spoken into by the head of the Baptist Convention, a King James Bible (autographed by President George Bush of Crawford, Texas), a pressed bluebonnet (planted by Lady Bird) and a piece of sod from the original parking lot.

The people still drank coffee, especially on Sunday mornings, and a large wooden carved coffee mug, gifted originally by a St. Harvison, who once held the record for the most cups (mugs) of coffee consumed during a Sunday sermon.

Near the children’s Sunday school rooms—and there seemed to be dozens of them—was a collection of pencils that St. Joel had used in his sketches. Children were encouraged to draw with them and at least one such child had become a famous artist. However, the pencils were not magical, simply inspirational.

All the pieces in the chapel were well-preserved and taken to the baptismal pool once a year for a ceremonial cleansing—a simple yet sacred act.

Within the sanctuary the “Seven Stations of the Cross” had been replaced by “The Seven Seasons of Texas,” with pictures of bluebonnets, football teams and pizza parlors.

I also noticed the “Bell Tower,” a modest edifice that of course had a bell in it, but also had inscribed the names of all the parishioners who had died. There were so many names that it was now difficult to hear the bell ring. Some of the names were larger than others, but I was assured that it had nothing to do with the amount of their regular tithes or offerings.

Near the entrance to the Church on Renewal Road was a flashing neon sign that said, “No parking near the oak trees,” “Go Bears,” and “Please give way to the handicapped.”

I was quite amazed at what I had seen and decided to question some of the former church members. I quickly found a wise person, a former Church Council member it turned out, and asked: Is DaySpring still a Baptist church? If so, why do they have relics and assorted religious stuff? Don’t they know what the Bible says about idols?

The wise person—a venerated Texan—spoke slowly and with a decided drawl. “Way-all,” he said, “We Babdists had some larnin’ to do, so we invited some of those Katlicks for a meetin’ or two. They showed us that it ain’t rong to look at such things and remember such other things.” 

We don’t argue in Heaven and we certainly don’t discuss relics and things, (or one’s logic) so I let it go at that. But I will be keeping my eye on that part of Waco in the future. Lots of things start out as simple stories and become part of major religious lore.

Even Baptists can leave the narrow Renewal Way.

April, 2019
Upon hearing a Bible study discussion about relics

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