His ultimate goal was to pass away on Christmas. And he made it.
One of my most favorite all-time comedians is the incomprehensible W. C. Fields. Nothing, I mean nothing, he found was so serious as if our lifecycle was not one great big joke. Now that is my kind of fellow. Laurel and Hardy are an extremely close second.
Even at the hospital, as he was passing away from alcohol complications of the stomach, two of his dearest friends visited him. The most shocking thing stared them in the face one day before he expired as they entered the room. An avowed atheist, they found him reading the Bible.
They questioned him as to why he was reading that book.
“Trying to look for loopholes.“
And that was the beauty of the man who brought out the real side of the human personality.
His great humor transcends the underlying human instinct that in some way we must win over our fellow man.
“Anything worth having is worth cheating for.”
Those of us who were considered backward in school gravitate to Fields. No matter what, we scratched, clawed, copied, and yes, cheated to keep going. It was survival. Now they have finally found reasons for us who were slow. Dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and other complications. But back in his days and mine and yours, we were simply dumb.
And so we who were left behind found in Fields and Laurel and Hardy happiness because they showed us we could survive. Sometimes later in life common sense won over book learning and we made it.
“A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.”
But he found great comedy in slow folks like me.
“The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves.”
He also loved the arts as many of us do whether painting, sculpture, or classical verse and theater
“I drink. Therefore I am.”
“Drown in a cold vat of whiskey? Death, where is thy sting?”
And he put to shame the Greek immortal stories of animals such as the hare, the turtle, and the eagle.
“The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down a rat hole with baited breath!”
And of business ventures?
“It is morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.”
“There comes a time when a man must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.”
And of young children whom I smile at that are not my own.
“Anyone who hates children and dogs can’t be all bad.”
“I never met a kid I liked.”
“Children should never be seen or heard from — ever again.”
“I love children — well done.”
And even at his last moment he winked at the nurse before he breathed his last. What a guy.
And his last request for his tombstone?
“On the whole I’d rather be in Philadelphia.”
Can we approach life with happiness and fun all the way to the end? W. C. Fields showed us the way. I just bet he was amazed when he was in front of the heavenly gates, and even more astounding, he’s keeping the whole crew up there in stitches.
Fair winds to ye matey.
Chick Huettel is a longtime Walton County resident, writer and artist. He is a member of a number of local organizations including the Emerald Coast Archeological Society. Email him in care of The Sun at firstname.lastname@example.org.