A boiled egg is hard to beat. Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide.
Don't you just love to yolk it up with words? Or at least wish to apply the egg to the face of the punster.
Spoonerisms, Tom Swifties, malapropisms and oxymorons or puns - there are so many ways to twist words topsy-turvy until either they or your listener groan. Your listener, most likely.
Find out which by trying this simple experiment - read the next four puns to the person sitting next to you (then prepare to duck):
He had a photographic memory - which never developed.
Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
It was a great deal on batteries. They were free of charge.
Acupuncture is a jab well done.
There. Isn't it great to groan about something besides Christmas shopping?
Ah, words. Unlike peas on the plate, we get to play with them, squish them and even sling them across the room on a spoon. Spoonerisms, to be precise.
To paraphrase a radio announcer I heard, spoonerisms result when the speaker's tang gets toungled. William Archibald Spooner, an Oxford don who died in 1930, lives on in verbal mix-ups.
The environmentalist hoping to save the whales instead waved the sails. The spoonerism also turned a sad ballad into a bad salad.
Then there are malapropisms, which happen when a person substitutes a similar-sounding wrong word for the right one. The term honors the character Mrs. Malaprop in the 1775 comedy ''The Rivals'' by Richard Sheridan.
Malapropisms give us illegible bachelors topping their salads with neutrons, which can leave the listener erupting into historical fits of laughter unparalyzed in human historonics.
Let us move on to the oxymoron, which, I think, might literally mean ''air head.'' The oxymoron brings together two opposites in the hopes of forming something that makes sense. It doesn't. Jumbo shrimp. Pretty ugly. Same difference. Unbiased opinions.
Now take your basic Tom Swifty, he said educationally. Tom Swifties are named for a boy's adventure here created in 1910 by author Edward L. Stratemeyer, a guy who couldn't lay off the adverbs. The punsters, one of the most feared criminal elements in the world of literature, kidnapped Tom Swift and wreaked havoc:
My pencil is blunt, said Tom pointlessly.
We have no oranges, said Tom fruitlessly.
I've been feeding the crocodile, said Tom offhandedly.
Yes, the pun is by far the worst Fig Newton of speech in all its tortuous forms. That's when someone tells you that when fish are in schools, sometimes they take debate.
When the professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground. The track star who used to fear hurdles, got over it.
And we who ate so much on Thanksgiving decided to quit cold turkey.
Well, I shall no longer keep you in suspenders. We have come to the end. Now it's your turn to pepper spray me with puns and other parts of speech. Send in your plays on words and we'll have a chrand guckle together. Don't lay an eggnog.
---- Mangle words with Cole at email@example.com or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.