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A LESSON IN PAPERBOY

Short story By: Philip Roberts
Humor



About the inane psuedo-English papersellers talk!


Submitted:Dec 30, 2010    Reads: 57    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


Sharon Mullions allowed herself to be led through the crowded streets of Melbourne by her cousin, Barbara McDaniels. A native Californian, Sharon prided herself that Australia was merely a poor-man's United States, or "America in microcosm" as she liked to say, in a bid to impress her cousin with her University of California sociology degree. As the Melbourne lunchtime crowd jostled her on both sides, Sharon thought, "That's one thing the two countries have in common, peak hour crushes!"
The two women stopped at the streetlights at the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets, facing toward the famous facade of Melbourne's Finders Street Station. When the lights changed to green the two women hurried across to climb the steps to the small arcade leading to the various platforms.
As Sharon took out her ticket to show to the guard at the top of the ramp leading down to platforms six and seven, a teenaged paperboy thrust a rolled up newspaper under her nose and shouted, "Errol Inal raped her, and about time too! Errol Inal raped her, and about time too!"
Shocked, Sharon stopped in her tracks and asked, "My God, did he really say what it sounded like?"
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," repeated the paperboy. "Errol Inal raped her, and about time too."
Almost through the gate to the ramp, Barbara McDaniels stopped and returned to where her American cousin was standing and said, "I don't know, what did it sound like he said?"
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," repeated the paperboy on cue. "Errol Inal raped her and about time too."
"Listen," insisted Sharon and the paperboy repeated his message.
"So what? He's got to call out like that to sell his newspapers. That's his job," said Barbara, thinking, "Don't they have newspapers in the United States?"
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too."
"I know it's irritating, but they all call out like that. Haven't you heard them before? After all you've been in this country for eight days now!"
"She makes it sound like eight years!" thought Sharon. Aloud she said, "Called out that a woman had been raped!"
"What? He never said anything...?"
"And that it was about time that it happened?"
"Errol Inal raped her and about time too," repeated the paperboy.
"What in the world are you babbling about? He never said anything about a woman being raped," said Barbara.
"Yes he did!" insisted Sharon, thinking, "They talk about the crime rate in America, but things must be a lot worse in Australia, if the people can be so callous about such a heinous crime as rape!"
"Don't be silly. Your problem is that you just don't understand Paperboy. What you have to keep in mind is that Melbourne paperboys don't speak English."
"They don't?" asked Sharon.
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too."
" No, they don't."
"Then what language do they speak?"
"Paperboy, of course," said Barbara. "It's a language in its own right. As far removed from English...as the American lingo is, for instance....
"Oh God, here we go again!" thought Sharon Mullions. Sharon did not share her cousin's opinion that the Americans speak a language other than English. "Then how are you supposed to ever know what they're saying?"
"By learning to speak Paperboy yourself, of course."
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too."
"But how in the world do you learn Paperboy?" asked Sharon.
"Well it's not easy to begin with," admitted Barbara. "You have to listen to what he says, decide what it sounds like, then figure out what it could really be."
"Sounds pretty difficult," said Sharon, who had enough difficulty at times understanding her cousin's speech, through her thick Aussie drawl.
"At first it is, but after a while you reach the stage where you can make very educated guesses. Then finally you get to the point where you can automatically understand it. It's basically the same as when you learn any foreign language, I remember the terrible trouble I had a few years back, trying to learn to speak American."
"Very funny!" said Sharon, not sounding the slightest bit amused. "And you can speak the Paperboy language?"
"Oh yes, fluently. For instance, listen to what that paperboy is saying now."
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," said the paperboy on cue. "Errol Inal raped her, and about time too."
"Now tell me what that sounded like to you?"
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," said Sharon.
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," agreed the paperboy.
"No, that isn't even close," said Barbara. "What he said was, "Herald, final.
Get your paper. Read all about the news.'"
"What? You've got to be kidding!"
"No I'm not," insisted Barbara, "that's exactly what he said."
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," said the paperboy. Turning to face the two women, he said, "I wanna rape you, baby."
"My God! What...?" asked Sharon, gaping in disbelief at such an outrage. She thought, "Even in America the men aren't that crass, let alone the teenage boys!"
"He asked if you want a newspaper," explained Barbara.
Sharon shook her head and said to the paperboy, "Er ... no, no thank you."
"What did it sound like to you?" asked Barbara, after the paperboy had turned his back on them again.
"It sounded like he said he wanted to rape me."
"But what were the exact words," insisted Barbara.
"It sounded like, "I wanna rape you, baby.'"
"Well that's close, I suppose. What he said was, "Want a paper, lady?'"
"Is that what it was?" asked Sharon in disbelief.
Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook," called out the paperboy.
"Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook."
"So what's news?" asked Sharon. "We all know what a ratbag Frazer is, after losing his trousers in a Memphis hotel lobby a few years back."
"Bloody silly yanks, always talking in tongues!" thought Barbara. Aloud she said, "I beg yours?"
"I was just agreeing about Malcolm Frazer being a kook."
"So who said anything about Malcolm Frazer being a kook?"
"Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook," repeated the paperboy.
"He just did then," insisted Sharon.
"No he didn't," insisted Barbara.
"Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook," insisted the paperboy.
"Yes he did," said Sharon, "listen...."
"Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook."
"All right, so I'm listening, but I still didn't hear him say anything about Frazer being a kook."
"What do you mean? He said, 'Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook.'"
"He never said anything like that."
"Well that's what it sounded like to me," insisted Sharon Mullions.
"Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook," agreed the paperboy.
Shaking her head, Barbara said, "The trouble is you're still not tuned in to the Paperboy language. What he said was, 'Malcolm says, "There's work for those that look!"'"
"My God!" said Sharon. "If that's the way they mispronounce their words, how in the world are you supposed to ever understand what they're saying?"
"As I said before, it takes lots of practice," said Barbara. "It also helps if you're aware of the basic points of the Paperboy language. Firstly, Paperboy is a bit like Ocker or cockney slang, in that it's a play on words. All three dialects use rhyming slang. But really Paperboy is more like "Strine, because whereas Ocker and cockney are both deliberately contrived languages, put on for effect, "Strine and Paperboy are natural, spontaneous languages. They both involve a lot of slurring and running together of words, rather than just using inane rhymes."
"Oh I see," said Sharon, still totally confused.
"Also Paperboy is reminiscent of German handwriting. The Germans have this strange habit of running one word straight onto the next, instead of leaving a space after each word as we do in English, and you yanks do in the American lingo."
"Ha! Ha!" said Sharon, sounding unamused.
"The result is that each line of German writing looks like one gigantic word running right across the page. Which, of course, is totally incomprehensible to anyone not absolutely fluent in the German language. Paperboy is spoken the same way. Once a paperboy starts talking he doesn't stop until he finishes the expression, sells a newspaper, or else runs out of breath and turns blue in the face."
"And that's the basis of the Paperboy language?"
"Yes, that's it. Once you understand that the whole thing becomes much easier to grasp. Or should I say, much less difficult to grasp."
"Well I don't know? It still seems...?"
"It's not that hard, really it's not," insisted Barbara McDaniels.
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," said the paperboy. "Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook. 'Mary Arnold going all night in the nude,' says Emmie, 'what a piece of tail!'"
"I tell you what," said Barbara, "let's try it again. All right?"
"Well...all right," agreed Sharon reluctantly.
"'Mary Arnold going all night in the nude,' says Emmie, 'What a piece of tail!'"
"All right, tell me what it sounds like he's saying now?"
"'Mary Arnold going all night in the nude,' says Emmie, 'what a piece of tail!'"
"Well it sounds as though he's saying...."
"Yes?" prompted Barbara. "Go on."
"It sounds as though he's saying..." said Sharon. Too embarrassed to say it, she waved an arm toward the paperboy and said, "That!"
"'Mary Arnold going all night in the nude,' says Emmie, "what a piece of tail!'"
"What?" demanded Barbara, determined not to let her American cousin off the hook.
"Well, all right...promise not to laugh?" asked Sharon.
"Cross my heart and hope to die," said Barbara, crossing her right hand over her chest in imitation of the Playtex bra advertisement.
"'Mary Arnold going all night in the nude," says Emmie, "what a piece of tail!'"
"It sounds as though he's saying, 'Mary Arnold going all night in the nude,' says Emmie, 'What a piece of tail!'"
"What?" asked Barbara in amazement. She laughed heartily for a few moments, clutching her sides with laughter and wiping the tears of joy front her eyes, and said, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."
"Well?" demanded the American, unamused by her Australian cousin's hysterics. "Would you mind telling me what he really said?"
"Not at all," said Barbara. "He said, 'Marijuana growing all right, for own use,' says M.P., 'what's the use in gaoling?'"
"What? It certainly didn't sound anything like that to me!"
"Of course not, you still don't understand the basic principles of the Paperboy language yet, do you?"
"No, I guess not," conceded Sharon.
"The main thing to remember, is that whatever he actually said, it won't have been anything at all like whatever it sounded like."
"Whatever you say," said Sharon.
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," said the paperboy. "Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook. 'Mary Arnold going all night in the nude,' says Emmie, 'what a piece of tail!' Angry gays say, 'Open brothels for queer police!' Angry gays say, 'Open brothels for queer police!'"
Looking up to a row of television monitors a few metres above the ground, displaying details of the train schedules, Barbara McDaniels saw that there was still ten minutes until their train was due to arrive at the station, so she said to her American cousin, "All right, suppose we try one last one?"
"Okay," agreed Sharon, unenthusiastically.
"Angry gays say, "Open brothels for queer police!'"
"All right then, let me know as soon as you think that you've decoded it."
"Angry gays say, "Open brothels for queer police!'"
"All right, do you know what he's saying?" asked Barbara.
"Well I...I know what it sounds like...."
"But of course that's not what it really is."
"Angry gays say, "Open brothel for queer police!'"
"I just don't know...I'm almost getting it...I think."
"All right, I'll tell you what. To start with just tell me what it sounds like?"
"Angry gays say, "Open brothels for queer police!'"
"It sounds like he's saying, 'Angry gays say, "Open brothels for queer police!"' said Sharon hesitantly, expecting her cousin to laugh at her again.
"Fair enough," said Barbara. "Now try to decide what he's really saying."
"Well, somebody-or-other says," suggested Sharon.
"Good," said Barbara, "but the question is, who says?"
"I don't...I don't know...."
"Then think for a while. Who has a name that sounds a bit like angry gays?"
"It could be just about anyone," insisted Sharon.
"No it couldn't! Obviously he's not going to call out 'Joe Snurk says', or 'Bill Bloggs says', now is he? It has to be someone in the public eye, since he's trying to sell newspapers. So who in the public eye has a name that sounds vaguely like angry gays?"
Sharon Mullions looked perplexed, so Barbara said, "I'll give you a clue. "Think of someone at the extreme right of the Australian political scene."
"Bob Hawke?" suggested Sharon.
"Even further to the right."
"Paul Keating?"
"Even further to the right than Paul Keating."
Looking puzzled, Sharon said, "If you went any further to the right than Paul Keating, you'd fall off the edge of the world!"
"In the New Right of the Liberal Party!" prompted Barbara.
"Oh!" said Sharon. "Anthony Hays!"
"Close enough," said Barbara, thinking, "You have to make allowances for Americans." She said, "Andrew Hays."
"All right, Andrew Hays says something that sounds like open brothels."
"All right, try starting from the other end and working backwards."
"Well, police could be policy. Politicians are forever carrying on about their various policies."
"Good, exactly," said Barbara, "but what policy?"
"Angry gays say, 'Open brothels for queer police!'"
"Well the last two words sound like queer police, so it's something that sounds like queer policy."
"Yes, but what policy rhymes with queer?"
"Queer? Queer?" said Sharon, drawing queer glances front passers-by, again stuck for inspiration. After a moment she said, "Nuclear policy!"
"Exactly, Andrew Hays says, 'blah blah blah' nuclear policy. Now all you have to do is fill in the middle bit."
"Well ... I don't know."
"Angry gays say, "Open brothel for queer police!'"
"Well obviously he's going to talk about strengthening or weakening a policy."
"Andrew Hays says, 'we'd strengthen...' No, no, it's 'soften'! Andrew Hays says, 'We'd soften nuclear policy'."
"But is that likely?" asked Barbara. "Remember the Liberal Party is always talking about gearing up the nuclear policy if and when they get into government."
"Oh, now I get it! Andrew Hays says, "Labor mustn't soften nuclear policy!'"
"Exactly. Now that wasn't so difficult, was it?"
"Maybe not if you've got fifteen minutes to mull over everything he says."
"The secret is to keep at it until you reach the point where all the hard work is done in your subconscious, so all your conscious mind receives is the English language translation," explained Barbara. "All it takes is a few years of patient practice. It's a bit like going to Uni. For years you slog away, trying to come to grips with a seemingly endless stream of utter garbage, then you get you degree, forget everything you've learnt, go onto the dole, and suddenly it all seems worthwhile." She glanced up at the railway schedules again and, grabbing Sharon by one arm, said, "Well come along, we haven't got all day to waste standing around here having a lesson in Paperboy!"
The two women walked through the gateway, and then hurried down the ramp to the platform below as their train pulled into the station.
"Errol Inal raped her, and about time too," said the paperboy, shoving a newspaper right under the nose of an old man. "Errol Inal raped her, and about time too. Malcolm Frazer goes berserk, the bloody kook. 'Mary Arnold going all night in the nude,' says Emmie, 'What a piece of tail!' Angry gays say, 'Open brothels for queer police....'"
THE END
© Copyright 2010
Philip Roberts




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