The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

August/September 2007 Humor Contest Winner
Best Very Short Humor!

Mister Ornery and the High Derangias


Steven Fay

"Let's go prune the hydrangeas," M"Lady suggests.

"High derangias?" I echo, envisioning clusters of mentally disturbed plants on drugs.

"Hydrangeas," she corrects. "Come on, I'll show you."

She seems determined that I can both learn to identify and grow to love our flowery friends. I remind her that I was the only person in my college botany class whose paper on the comparative growth of bean plants turned into a dissertation on seed rot, but she is not deterred.

"Just come on," she repeats, leading the way outside.

I think it wise to obey. She is armed with pruning shears.

"These are hydrangeas," she says shortly as we stand at the foot of the slope by the garage, "and we're going to trim away the dead blooms."

There are many blooms, but the task does not appear too daunting.

"All of "em are dead, right?" I say, just to be absolutely sure hydrangeas don't ordinarily appear dull and lifeless.

"It's still winter," she answers, "so that would be a good guess."

Emboldened by this confirmation of my burgeoning botanical knowledge but still a bit wary, I approach the plants with my own set of pruning shears held behind my back. I figure nothing will destroy my confidence more quickly than watching a group of plants suddenly uproot themselves and flee. I even hold up a hand in a sort of Hollywood, Native American gesture of greeting.

"I come in peace," I say, assuming that New Zealand hydrangeas understand English. I hope they will understand that it is not my idea. M"Lady wants me to do this as part of my horticultural education.

Whether they understand or not is hard to say. They do seem to greet me with open limbs, or branches. Indeed, their reactions are too enthusiastic for my taste, to the point that I imagine they want to drag me to the ground and feed off me. I whip out the pruning shears and the battle is on.

In my mind, I am a Roman legionnaire, battling hordes of barbarians. I SNIP left, SNIP right, and still they are all around. I discover too that hydrangeas are the chickens of the plant kingdom. Even headless, they clutch and grasp and poke at me.

How long I battle, I cannot say, but at last I step back and see not so much as a single head remaining. My SNIPPING arm is weary, hanging leadenly at my side. I do not even attempt a head count as we bag up the fallen blooms.

"Let's put the bags around by the shed and then we can prune the roses," says M"Lady.

I have no idea what that greenish clump of shrubbery on the bank above the back yard is, but I figure as soon as her back is turned, I'm there. With a bit of luck, she will not find me before nightfall. And we do not have headlamps.

©Steven Fay

Steven Fay, aka:  Mister Ornery, is a fifty–something, non–published writer (unless one counts two extinct web sites and a blog, an overlong letter–to–the–editor that somehow got published as a column, and a weekly column in a college newspaper over thirty years ago) who has been told he is "funny." He prefers to believe this means "humorous" as opposed to "strange." Severe stage fright, coupled with a mug that not even a mother could love, have precluded finding that, if "funniness" would translate to paying gigs on stage, a lucrative television sitcom would be sure to follow.

In real life, Mister Ornery is a transplanted Yank who now lives in New Zealand and reasons that Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is best regarded as a work of fiction by one who is not even in the same solar system. He is father of two seemingly normal adult sons, grandfather to a lad who calls him "Grumpy", and has worked for several years in health and human services–related occupations. His chief claim to fame is having been the first to screw up his elder brother's desire to be an only child.Steven's Blog can be found at the link below. Click HERE to visit his "Mr. Ornery's Corner."

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©Margie Culbertson

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