I Declare!!!

On the American version of the TV show “The Office”, Steve Carell’s character Michael Scott once found himself having money problems.  In a moment of desperation, he walked out into the middle of the office and shouted “Bankruptcy!  Bankruptcy!”  Michael knew the term “declare bankruptcy”, but he wasn’t aware that was something you have to do in court.  He assumed that if you wanted to declare bankruptcy, you simply literally declared “bankruptcy” where people can hear you.

It’s funny, but in some cultures you can make something true by simply declaring that it is.  For instance, a couple in India has been declared divorced by Islamic leaders there simply because the husband said the word “divorce” three times.  And he apparently said it in his sleep.

The wife told friends that her husband, while he was sleeping, uttered, “Divorce.  Divorce.  Divorce.”  When local Islamic leaders heard about it, they informed the couple that the husband’s words constituted a legal divorce decree under an Islamic “procedure”.  The two have been married for eleven years and have three children, but they were told by their local imam that they are now divorced.  What’s more, if they want to remarry each other, they first have to wait 100 days.  And for some reason, also before they get remarried, according to the “procedure”, the wife must spend at least one night with another man and be divorced by him as well.

If you’re around my age, you might already be thinking about Steve Martin’s comedy album “Wild and Crazy Guy”.  In one segment Steve, in character as one of the Czechoslovakian brothers from Saturday Night Live, says he can’t figure out why in America, breaking up with a girl is a big deal.  He says, “Where I come from, we have a very simple and mature way of doing it.  You simply walk up to the girl and say ‘I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee’, and then you throw dog poop on her shoes.”

I thought that was hilarious when I was about 14 years old.  It wasn’t quite as funny several years later when a girl actually did that to me.  But it was still kind of funny.  Still is.

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