Burt Prelutsky

Today, while making my way through a supermarket parking lot, I nearly got clipped when I didn’t hear a car backing out from its space. I assume it was one of those silent hybrids. Once I got done thanking God for providing me with my cat-like reflexes, it occurred to me to wonder why every vehicle doesn’t come equipped with those back-up beepers one finds on trucks.

That, in turn, reminded me that a friend recently informed me that she and her husband had just purchased a hybrid and that it ran as silent as a tomb. When I commented that such cars must be particularly dangerous for blind people, she said, “Well, they shouldn’t be driving in the first place.”

It’s not often these days that I laugh out loud except at my own remarks, but that one got a full-fledged chuckle. This being the season for gift-giving, and few gifts being as precious or as inexpensive as laughter, I will take this opportunity to share a number of time-honored witticisms which should at least warrant a grin, if not necessarily a guffaw.

Among Mark Twain’s numerous sage observations: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” “The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.” “There is no distinctly Native American criminal class save Congress.” And, my personal favorite, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

Winston Churchill, when he wasn’t otherwise occupied trying to warn the world about Hitler and Stalin, and doing what he could to defeat both, found the time to declare “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle” and “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings, while the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”

George Bernard Shaw, although an avowed Socialist, was bright enough to acknowledge “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

G. Gordon Liddy, probably the only person to emerge from the Watergate scandal with his manhood intact, described a liberal as “someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.”