Is life really survival of the wittiest?

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“If evolution was worth its salt, by now it should’ve evolved something better than survival of the fittest. Yeah, I told ‘em I think a better idea would be survival of the wittiest.”

-Jane Wagner


There is much to be said for survival of the wittiest. If we can’t laugh at ourselves along the way, the journey isn’t going to be very much fun.

A self-righteous preacher reprimanded a farmer because he cussed and drank. “I’m over 60 years old and I’ve never cussed or drunk.” The farmer answered, “Yeah, and you’ve never farmed, either.”

This is credited to “anonymous” in my book of witty quotations. Any guesses as to this anonymous person’s true identity?

Not long ago, Cort and I visited with two of his very favorite people, Brooks and Ruth Ringler. He considers them grandparents, as they have been a special part of his life from the day he was born. We got to talking about some of the pranksters we have known in our lifetimes, and Ruth had the best prankster story I have ever heard.

Ruth’s dad, Tom Hickey, enjoyed being with a group of neighbor boys who hunted together when he was a young man. They would take turns asking permission to hunt at various farms in the community. One day, when it was Tom’s turn to do the asking, the other boys stayed in the horse-drawn buggy while he went inside the farmer’s home.

The fellow told him, “You came on a day that I needed you, Tom. Yes, you may certainly have permission to hunt on my farm, but I need you to do a favor for me first.

My old horse is suffering terribly in his old age. I know he needs to be put down, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. Would you be so kind as to help me out by ending his misery before you go off to hunt?”

Tom agreed, saying he would need to go back out to the buggy to get his gun. As Tom walked back out to join his friends, an ornery idea hatched in his fun-loving head.

“Did he say we could hunt here?” one of his buddies asked of Tom.

“No, he wouldn’t give us permission. It makes me so mad! I’m gonna show him,” Tom said, grabbing his gun out of the buggy.

All the boys watched in horror as Tom walked toward the man’s dear old horse that was lying down in the nearby pasture. Before the deed could be done, Tom’s friends took off as fast as that buggy could fly!

The farmer just had an inkling something was up, and he stood nearby chuckling. “Go ahead and do what I’ve asked of you, Tom. Then I’ll take you to meet up with your friends.”

My father-in-law recalled one prank that taught him a lesson. He and a friend decided to disassemble a neighbor’s buggy one night, reassembling it on the peak of the farmer’s roof.

What the boys hadn’t counted on, though, was that the wind would pick up that night, knocking that buggy from the roof, shattering into a million pieces on the barn bank below.

He said paying to replace the buggy and apologizing for their orneriness didn’t hurt nearly as bad as being razzed by his father for the rest of his life!

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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