I am but a lowly goat-wrestler, a smuggler of unlabelled bottles, a ragged-trousered anythingarianist. But within me burns a flame of hope that one day I will achieve great things that, inter alia, will reduce the rate of subterranean rotation to which my ancestors are currently subject, and furnish me with the means to acquire a cardboard box built for two. One day I will learn how to tie my shoelaces without the assistance of the fire brigade, I will cease to gobble the food of dining companions when their attention is momentarily distracted, I will–and it is only today that this has suddenly begun to seem within my grasp–I will follow in the footsteps of Mr Werner G Patel and enroll on the University of Vienna’s elite course dealing with the challenges of translating standard German into Viennese English dialect as spoken in Alberta.
This is all quite new, so this afternoon I took advantage of a chance meeting with a senior academic at a local restaurant to ask a few questions.
“The Wiener Universität?” he said, handing me the change on a Big Mac with fries. “Yep, at Hamburger University we know and respect what they’re trying to do. Wieners are an undermarketed product, and McDonald’s is big enough not to make a fuss when someone so clearly bases their training programme on ours: language training, customer relations, you know the grill.”
“Hmm, let’s take a look at his stuff. Yep, he’s missed a few errors in your medieval Latin, but this guy knows his Viennese Albertan dialect all right. You know, the last time I heard someone say “a singular nount” was at Hermann Gandhis’ christening, way back in the 50s. It’s the kind of thing old Ulrich Daswanis used to say until he was lynched for asking for a pliers down at Adolf Kirpalanis’ hardware store.”
“Funny you say that, because one of the things Werner keeps saying is that ‘scissors’ can only be treated as a plural, when dictionaries claim and Google and the New York Post demonstrate that it is also used in the singular. And the same seems to apply to similar tools, like a forceps, a pliers and…”
“Trevor, I am going to tell you something that will change your life. I know that you have always looked at me and seen a creaky old professor, caked in chalk and frying grease. I know you are a free spirit who likes nothing better than free spirits. But I, too, have experienced the spiritual ecstasy that God wanted for us when he set us down on this world, and I want now to share with you the Way of the Scissors.”
“The Way of the Scissors?”
“An ancient doctrine, nowhere mentioned in orthodox religion, excised from the final communique of the First Council of Nicaea, and thereafter passed, in secret, from father to son, from father to daughter, from father to nephew, from…”
“And its message?”
“The revolutionary idea that the Scissors is One, and Two too…”
“Give me an example.”
“I say unto you, brother: just as it is grammatically and morally wrong to discuss the Scissors exclusively in either singular or plural terms, so it is taboo to compare the immanence, the transcendence of the Way of the Scissors…”
“Just one example…”
“Very well. There is a heresy that states that the Way of the Scissors is related to the Way of the Duck, the difference between which animal is characterised by one of its legs being both the same. As you study further, you will discover that this forms the theoretical foundation for the Viennese-Albertan school of gestalt psychology. Trevor, here’s a picture from Viennese Alberta. Do you see a Duck or a Scissors?”
“Well, I don’t know, guru, but it’s certainly got the hump.”
- This scissors
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