Loony Lennie’s lopsided lexicon! | Daily News


Loony Lennie’s lopsided lexicon!

I do believe I introduced you in some of my earlier columns to a former classmate nicknamed Loony Lennie, the joker of the pack who was the class clown. Not a classy clown in the real sense, mind you, because he possessed an extremely serious disposition. Not that he consciously clowned around to raise a laugh. He had the whole class and the teachers laughing hysterically by both his inadvertent crazy questions and answers.

I met him at a Colombo mall a few months ago. I was stopped in mid stride by a scraggly-haired individual who mumbled through his brand-new dentures: “Hi Gaston. Remember me? You guys used to call me Loony Leonard.” Who could ever forget Loony Lennie, the idiot of all idiots who was the class clown. When a teacher once asked him a question about superstitions and whether he agreed with them, he answered spontaneously: “Sir, it is bad luck to be superstitious!”

When old Reverend Brother Anthony was complaining about a humid spell of weather in the college quadrangle Loony scandalised him by saying: “Yes Brother, it’s as hot as Hell!”

On the same subject of the weather he was once slapped by a teacher for a very logical answer he gave. The teacher inquired from him whether it was raining outside? Loony, occupying a corner desk with a view of the outside concentrating on something else answered laconically: “Sir, does it ever rain inside?” He suffered a rain of heavy slaps for that as well as his answer to a question by the English teacher nicknamed Nage Pambu: “What do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?” Loony fired back: “A teacher!” He once wrote a sentence attempting to qualify the phrase ‘nip in the bud’ with ‘nip in the butt.’ The teacher marking his paper guffawed quite loud and remarked in the margin: “If you are trying to say that you’ve taken care of a problem pre-emptively, be precise. But leave everyone’s behind, behind!

His facility for getting into trouble, as I said, was purely accidental. He was a natural comedian and never realised it. For the world of him he could not fathom why he always had his mates chortling every time he opened his mouth. Who can ever forget when a team of the most artistic classmates created a giant birthday card for our class teacher and Protem-Director Brother Vinnie. The entire class wrote their individual wishes on it. Lennie’s line read: “Happy Birthday on your very special day, I hope that you don't die before you eat your cake!”

For instance, when we had a test where he had to fill in the blanks for certain idiomatic expressions he turned in his paper with some atrocious answers that personally offended the martinet teacher for their ‘un-punnyness.’ But I must concede that although many of them were completely off target they were also darned funny, such as, ‘If at first you don't succeed. (try, try again) which he answered with .... ‘go play marbles.’ ‘Eat, drink, and (be merry) was to him ..... ‘go to the bathroom’. ‘He who laughs last...... ‘didn't understand the joke.’ ‘All work and no play....... ‘is disgusting’. ‘Don't put off till tomorrow what...you put on to go to bed’. And ‘People in glass houses...... ‘better not take their clothes off.’

There were others that he mangled such as. ‘Don’t change horses (in midstream)’ which he answered with ... ‘until they stop running.’ And, ‘Don’t bite the hand (that feeds you)’ with ...’that looks dirty’. ‘The idle mind’ was, to him, ‘the best way to relax’. Others included, ‘Where there is smoke there’ ... ‘is pollution.’ Again in his weird way, ‘A penny saved is’ ... ‘not much’. ‘When the blind lead the blind’...’get out of the way.’

Another classic boo-boo of his was, ‘Never kick a gift horse in the mouth! And ‘Those who live by the sword ... get shot by those who don’t.’ Her career went down in .... the river when the right answer should have been flames. ‘I wanted to go to play outside yesterday, but it was raining …. puppies and kittens.’ (instead of cats and dogs). And the best of the lot was, ‘Better late than’... ‘pregnant.’

When asked to make a sentence with, ‘at the fag-end of....’ he wrote not altogether incorrectly: ‘The man threw away the cigarette butt at the fag-end of his smoke.’

Legend has it that the entire La Sallian brotherhood at St. Ben’s, the neighbouring Good Shepherdian sisterhood and priesthood of St. Lucy’s parish when being apprised of Loony Lennie’s answer to a religious test paper query were tickled pink.

The question in question was: ‘Answer briefly, who was Jacob and describe his role in the Bible?’ Loony Lennie’s answer: “Jacob, son of Isaac, stole his brother's birthmark.” St Lucia’s Square was rocked by a triumvirate of religious laughter as the adjacent rectories rang incessantly with guffaws and giggles over his faux pas of birthmark for birthright. There were also pleadings amid the breaks of amusement from all three religious orders that the answer should have been given eight out of ten with two marks cut for malapropism.

When introduced to the elements and symbols in chemistry class, Lennie titled it ‘Elements and their sambols.’ He once interjected some of the most memorable writing glitches in an essay when we were in the sixth grade. The title of the essay we were assigned to write was ‘Beginning to Bicycle’ and the subtitle ‘Six rules to get you started.’ Lennie left out the main title and misspelled the subtitle to: ‘Sex rules to get you started.’

He then continued with Rule No: 1 which was ‘wear a helmet’. Rule No. 2 was ‘always look both ways’. And Rule No: 3 was ‘be careful when negotiating the bumps.’

Then a bad misspelling that smacked of terrible double entendre when he set out rule No 4 with: ‘Always remember to grip both handle-bras so you don’t lose control!’ What he actually meant was handle-bars.

We could not quite understand at the time why our usually reserved teacher nicknamed ‘Naga Pambu’ was shuddering with uncontained mirth.

He took Lenny’s literary masterpiece to the staff room where the teachers laughed so hard they had tears streaming down their faces. Legend has it that ‘Naga Pambu’ kept Lennie’s paper in his desk drawer for years.

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