P.G.Wodehouse took grave objection to being called a 'burbling pixie', ‘believing that as such he became a hissing and a by-word among the eggheads. You can't go calling a man a burbling pixie without lowering his morale. He frets. He refuses to eat his cereal. He goes about with his hands in his pockets and his lower lip jutting out, kicking stones. The next thing you know, he is writing thoughtful novels analyzing social conditions, and you are short another humorist.’
I cannot claim to have been called a ‘burbling pixie’. Primarily because the word ‘burbling’ does not seem to be much in use these days and, going by some English experts, anything that is outdated cannot even be called English. As for ‘pixie’, if it has not been given prominence by Tolkien or Rowling, it does not deserve to be considered a legitimate fantasy creature. Still, I have had my lower lip jutting out, I have been kicking stones and, if not thoughtful novels, I have been writing pieces on Social conditions. (By the way, I like the other version of Wodehouse where he says, ‘He grows a beard and writes one of those Russian novels’ - primarily because I have a beard, I suppose!)
What set it all off, then? Nothing specific, really. There are times when the jester’s cap sits heavy on your head and the bells seem to jingle mournfully and you start feeling this urgent need to be taken seriously. Then, you hit upon some brilliant thought that the world has never heard of before and you go out into the market-place and shout, “Hear Ye! The world is round and not flat” only to find that your audience is too busy dickering for its onions to pay any heed to you.
Now what is it that keeps a man dissatisfied with who he is? The jester suddenly develops an appetite for being a social reformer and the serious thoughtful guys feel the pressing need to jest. Ah! The vagaries of human nature!
Actually, I can quite understand why the serious guys feel the need to jest. With almost every woman and her aunt looking for a man with a ‘sense of humor’, it is but a vital necessity for every man to delve into the dark corners of his heart to see if he can find a glimmer of a sense of humor. Though what the ladies really do with this man, I have never yet managed to understand.
I mean, I have seen many a woman snag this elusive man only to spend the rest of their lives saying, ‘Be serious, Bertie”. Now, what is it exactly that they want – a serious person or a jester? It almost seems as if they need a man with a sense of humor only because they can occupy the rest of their time in beating it out of him. Someone without it to start with offers no such entertainment.
Digressions! Digressions! Where was I? Ah! On the need for a jester to turn serious. You see, the issue is that a jester is never taken seriously. If he says, “I have a headache”, people laugh and say, “Go on with you. Always joking” and the headache intensifies in trying to find out exactly what the joke was that you cracked unintentionally. Even on the death-bed, you are expected to come out with a witty line about all the friends that you are going to meet in Hell – when, with all your heart, you are wishing the entirety of your audience in Hell so that you can die in peace without the pressure of having to think up a witty exit line. The serious guys have it easy. They can mope and their audience will be suitably sympathetic.
As long as this morbid mood lasts, wit flies out of the window. But the day will come when the jester’s cap fits snug on the head and the bells ring joyously – for, after all, Bertie can be serious only for so long.