The peculiar Mr. Dunning

 

Have you heard about Mr. Dunning? It’s a funny story.

Mr. Dunning might be one of the most baffling characters I have ever had acquaintance of. Middle-aged, still single, short, plump fellow. Receding hairline and those gold round glasses. Always the meet and greet types. Good ol’ Mr. Dunning.

Now the thing with Mr. Dunning was that his natural instinct of an ice breaker was a joke. He had this book ‘Lawrence and Bellamy’s 1001 jokes to say at social gatherings.” As it turns out, the last social gathering ‘Lawrence and Bellamy’ ever went out to was in the 60s.

So as it happens, Mr. Dunning went around town flouting his newfound accomplishment . At bars, parties, offices, even at buses to fellow passengers he had only met briefly. Chucky ol’ Mr. Dunning.

He would always begin with a question. That was his favorite one.

“Say, What did the police officer say to his tummy?”, he went.

Of course its a joke so you don’t get the right to answer. Unless you could spoil the joke, well, you wouldn’t want to do that. So they all took that momentary pause, you know just to show they were actually thinking about it, and then asked him to answer it for them.

“I’ve got you ‘under a vest'”, he said and then went “Geddit? Under arrest!” And then they raised their eyebrows in bewilderment and wondered how a man could actually fall to these heights. And so they took a sip of their drinks. Went forward with the formal “It was nice meeting you” and took off as fast as they could.

And so it went on. From jokes about Irishmen to puns about fishes to one-liners that would send you pulling the hair out of your scalp until you finally get them. Or well, until Mr. Dunning finally explained them to you, which was the case most of the time let me tell you.

He went forward with his daily routine of “Why did Cinderella didn’t get selected in the football team? Because she ran away from the ball” to “A man didn’t like his haircut but it started to grow on him” to ” What does a vegan zombie eat? Graaaaaaaaaaains.”

Oh and believe me, he did the “Graaaaaaaaaaains!”

So eventually, people had started to corner Mr. Dunning out. Form elbowing their parteners to warn them of his arrival to whispering “Oh god! He’s here.”  Women had started to make up imaginary boyfriends and friends had started to make up imaginary workloads. They did everything to brace themselves from the atrocity of another one his jokes. Mr. Dunning was criticized, disregarded, ignored and eventually, ostracized. They laughed at him, rather than with him.

But our jolly ol’ Mr. Dunning was a bit too naive to realize that.

Until one day, he found himself doing an Irishmen piece on a bartender who ended up serving him his usual Scotch, without ice. Yes you heard me! WITHOUT ICE!

And as Mr. Dunning sat there sipping over his misery, without ice, he had realized that in a crowd of people around him at the bar, he was all alone. Nobody wanted to listen to his jokes. Let alone, nobody wanted to talk to him.

And then that night, the neighbor Miss Maragaret had noticed him lighting up his ‘Lawrence and Bellamy’s 1001 jokes to say at social gatherings’ by the front porch.

The next evening, as Mr. Dunning sulked on his tragedy-of-a-scotch, without ice that is, he noticed somebody else sitting all by herself at the other end of the bar.

And she had those blonde hair tied into a bun behind her head and those lips so red, they could’ve have served as a pigment for the roses and those eyes. Those blue , glittering eyes! Mr. Dunning could swear to god he had never seen a woman so pretty before. And to have her sitting all by herself, by golly were the lords smiling at him right now!

He gathered a deep breath, mustered all the pride he had left and went over to take the chair next to her. He might have buried the treasure trove but their certainly was one trick left up his sleeve. With his heart pumping at speed of a coyote (Oh btw, a coyote is actually faster than a roadrunner. Which means my childhood was a complete lie), he went on.

“Why is the ocean all blue?” She stared at him, puzzled and dumbfounded like the rest of them had been. She shook her head and was about to say something when he cut her off…

“Because all the fishes go blu, blu, blu.” He mouthed the blu, blu, blu and then let out a light chuckle. He was waiting for the familiar reaction as she stared at him with those raised eyebrows. He was about to take his drink (Yes, without ice you people!) elsewhere when all of a sudden, to his astonishment, she broke into a fit.

And boy did she laugh so hard! She held her stomach as Mr. Dunning saw the spectacle so bizzare in front of him. He ordered her a drink and had was regretting burning the book up already.

He was about to grace her with another one of those when a strange, middle aged lady, with a thin scar on the right cheek, went up to the woman. “Ah there you are Ellen dear!”, she went. “I’ve been looking all over.” She fumbled into her purse for something. “Now I’ve changed the batteries and I believe it should work fine now.” She took out a hearing aid and handed it to Ellen.

“I believe you might have company. So I’ll take a leave. Toodles!” she waved and then went out of the bar.

Ellen looked at the hearing aid, then at Mr. Dunning who now had the face of a lost puppy. She put on her hearing aid. “I’m sorry. I was about to say but then you went on doing that” She mouthed the blu, blu, blu. “And it was so funny and I couldn’t help but laughing.”

Mr. Dunning didn’t say anything. He just kept staring. He kept thought of all the people who had left after hearing his jokes. He thought of the lukewarm Scotch in his hand. He thought of this beautiful woman and how things might have turned had she actually listened to the joke and the bittersweet irony of it all made him chuckle. And then she chuckled too. And then they both broke into a fit for such a long time, the bartender had to shush them for disturbing the customers. (Yes, it was the same bartender who gave him the Scotch. That mean old prick!)

“So you were saying something?” she said breathing heavily after all the laughing.

Mr Dunning did tell her joke though. They ended up marrying an year later. Oh well, stranger things have happened.

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