"Well, it was Bill, but then my account got transferred to Korea..." said OD.
"I'm not surprised--probably by now so has mine. But the point is, were
you brought here in search of a Nose?" "It could
be, but then again, perhaps not. If I were to say yes, we'd
probably have to share the fortune..." "It must be a different nose," I said. "My nose promises unlimited happiness." "Well, so did mine," said OD. "So I assumed there was a fortune involved."
We decided to form an alliance, since there seemed little else to do
that wouldn't involve bloodshed. But in the end Arup's House of
Idols didn't yield any noses either. Gupta was flummoxed. After hemming and hawing, he admitted to one more cache of Idols.
"But it's right in the tourist center of Rajnoor City. The
Tourism Office has some idols in their "Welcome to Rajnoor" display,
but I think they're all fakes... Since it was on the way back to our hotel, the three of us trudged to it wearily.
Inside the Tourism Center, we were greeted by a large golden idol
resembling a laughing Buddha, or possibly Ronald McDougal, the famous
fishburger clown. This idol clearly had cheap cut glass ruby
colored eyes, but what drew our attention was the nose. It looked
like a red rubber ball. Some children were in the room, reaching
up and honking the nose, which seemed connected to a party horn.
When they tired of their infantile amusement, we supplanted them
and examined the nose in detail. It pulled loose on a cable, and was
indeed nothing more than a red bicycle horn. But on the back of the horn, were printed in beautifully legible English:
"The key to happiness is a vacation touring the Idols of Rajnoor--Enjoy
your stay--the Rajnoor Tourism Center."
I took off my Memory Glasses (which were also passable reading glasses) and stared at the glasses in disgust.
"It was just a marketing scheme," I said. "Either that or some
Trojan spammer took over the regular operating system for these
glasses. Clearly it was just a ploy to get tourists to come to
Rajnoor." "Ooh, that makes me mad," said OD.
Gupta said--"It is evening, and time to sit on the veranda, drink cool
drinks, and enjoy the panorama of a Rajnoori sunset. We have a
saying here--If today was bad, that improves the chance that
tomorrow will be better." After a couple days, OD
and I adapted to the local speed of life (the tropical version of
glacial), and we had a nice vacation. I sent Alice a lovely
if sheepish postcard, and arranged to have some local artisans
build banjos for me, so the trip wasn't a financial disaster.
After a few days OD headed off into the jungle in search of
some new treasure, but by then I was convinced that the Rajnoori
Tourist Office was right--The key to happiness is a vacation touring the Idols of Rajnoor. But I threw away the glasses when I got home...
Chapter 36 Infectious Laughter
While on a plane from Rajnoor to Detroit, where Phil was to connect to
his home airport of Lilac City, the plane was forced to make an
emergency landing in Hawaii due to a medical problem up in First Class.
There are several reasons Phil isn't narrating this, which may or
may not become obvious as the story progresses. Although
international planes are large, they become small communities when
something untoward happens, where medical personel emerge from
the rows of even the steerage class to see how they can help. And
being small communities, word spreads quickly.
So by the time Doctor Schnabel returned to his seat, most of the people
around had heard there was someone having trouble breathing... What
surprised them was the way the doctor was chuckling as he returned to
"He will probably be fine," the
doctor said to his wife... "Apparently the guy just heard a joke
so funny that he couldn't get his breath back for laughing..." "Then why do we have to make an emergency landing? And why are you laughing?" asked his wife...
"Well, he still can't get his breath back, and is still laughing.
He chokes out part of the joke and then falls back to cackling.
No one else had a better idea than to land and let some hospital
deal with him..." The doctor started chuckling again.
"I only heard part of the joke, but it was pretty good. You see a
dog goes into a bar..." He broke off, and started chuckling
again... "There can't be a funny enough dog- in- a- bar joke to make someone ill," she said. "That's what I thought," said the doc, only... " He started chuckling again.
Fortunately for Phil, he couldn't hear more of what the doctor said.
Usually he enjoyed overhearing conversations as much as the next
person would, but in this case it proved to be lucky that he couldn't.
Soon there were fits of laughter from the doctor's row, and
several got up and fell into the aisle, where, if they could have, they
would have rolled in the aisle. But if you've traveled by jet,
you realize the aisles are as unrollable as the seats are unsittable.
Before Phil could ascertain more, the "Fasten Seatbelts" sign came on,
and the crew announced preparation for landing. After landing the
passengers were all told to stay in their seats, but because there were
more pockets of laughing getting out of control, they finally insisted
everyone deplane. Because the plane had made its emergency stop
in Iceland, the first stop for everyone off the plane was customs.
Given the circumstances, this should have been a snap, since no
one was likely to be smuggling anything into a country they had no
reason to expect to be in. However, the cavalier attitude of the
passengers, laughing in the face of the customs officers, raised the
officers' bureaucratic hackles. Bureaucratic
hackles were no match for this laughing phenomenon. The more the
officers raised their voices and threatened, the more the affected
passengers chortled. In the customs area, there was plenty of
room for aisle rolling, and many of the passengers made the best of it.
The customs officers berated the ship's crew for serving too much
liquor, but the crew, those which weren't involved in the frivolity,
denied everything and were totally mystified.
All those affected by the laughing fits were sent off to the hospital
to be examined. The somber lot left behind tried to piece
together what had happened. Some, like Phil, knew there was a Dog
in a Bar joke somehow involved, and he mentioned that to the group.
A business traveler, hearing that, said, "Oh, it was a dog!"
Then he started chuckling. A few
minutes later, the man was led off by people wearing biohazard suits,
and Phil was taken in for questioning. Slowly the authorities
began to piece together the story. The detective inspector made a
fatal mistake, however, in pursuing all the questioning himself.
It was in questioning the 4th or 5th person after Phil, a woman
who had heard there was a raincoat involved, that the Inspector slapped
his head and exclaimed, "A raincoat!" and began laughing hysterically.
His associates, who had been outside the door during the
interrogations, came rushing in, and removed him at gunpoint.
After that, the passengers were taken to a hotel, and told not to
discuss any part of the incident with anyone except designated
officials. They were left to rest overnight, and by morning brawny
American agents with crew cuts and sunglasses were going door to door,
soliciting any part of the joke that had started it all. However,
once they secured any part of the joke, they broke off interviewing,
for fear of contamination, and typed their report into a secured
computer link to Washington, then left the scene.
Use this chart to find the next of the cartoons (first 47 entries) or the stories (starting with 1 A River Too Far 5 rows below week 8)