Friday, October 7, 2011

All About the Wordplay

I'll never forget my first conscious experience with a pun.

As a little girl I was babysat by my grandmother every day; this meant I played in the front living room with all her strange toys while the television created noise in the background, and was occasionally checked on and fed.

In those days, and as several stations still insist upon doing, television channels showed re-runs. But they'd pick the same eight episodes to show almost constantly, very rarely airing the others. Needless to say, when it came to the shows I was more partial to, I became rather familiar with these consistent re-runs.

There was one episode of The Powerpuff Girls in which the Mayor was somehow booted from office. He sat on a street curb, perhaps outside of the Town Hall, and he said something that I couldn't ever quite grasp. And much as I would with a Jason Mraz song lyric today, I'd spend the course of the day mulling over that statement. (I think I'd heard his "statement" as a playground song at some point prior in my life; you can ask me to sing it now and I happily will. It never left my immediate memory.) I'd sing the song as I thought about him saying it, but my uneducated mind couldn't grasp the double speak.

At some point the episode was re-aired yet again, and it suddenly all made sense.

The Mayor sat in his rag-tag form on the street corner or whatever it may be, and said glumly, "The old white Mayor just ain't what he used to be."

And then a random white horse stamped its foot merrily in place as it stood in the middle of the road, and Blossom flew down in front of it and began some sort of pep-talk.

I'm not a horse person. No one within arms length of me is a horse person. I didn't know a horse was called a mare, or that such a word would almost be pronounced mayor. It never hit me until that moment that the Mayor was referring to himself on the forefront, but the double speak about the horse and the cameo appearance by said horse were the real joke in the situation. The horse had miffed me as much as the Mayor had, but I'd always taken his phrase as a means to figuring the whole thing out.

And I was right.

And I was so ridiculously proud of myself for getting it. And I firmly believed I was the only little girl in the country to have deciphered that rascally Mayor's riddle.

And maybe I was. Or maybe I wasn't.

I mean, I'd seen the episode enough. Perhaps I was the only little girl in the country that took such a large number of re-runs to find the relevance of the horse.

Whatever the case may be, be my little brain a genius or moron, I've never forgotten that image of the bedraggled Mayor, and I've never forgotten his bewildering sentence.

And this pun has always been my guilty pleasure to drop into conversation whenever it seems relevant. How could I let a cognitive victory like that go to waste?

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