The talk in the Bay Club, a popular hangout for North Bay, Ontario businessmen, usually sticks to fishing and hunting. But on this recent night the fellows were sipping their beer and discussing the perils and problems of being lost in the wilderness of the Canadian bush country. Just about everyone had some sort of experience to tell—everyone, that is, except Marty Vanclieaf, who had been prospecting in the North Woods for 30 years or so. Marty was being mighty quiet for a change.
"What's the matter with you, Marty?" one of the fellows asked. "Surely you've been lost on some of the early prospecting trips."
Marty smiled a smug little smile. "Lost? Never been close to it."
A few people snickered and one of them slipped him the needle. "Didn't know you were that good with the compass, Marty."
"Never use one," Marty snapped. "As long as a guy has one of these—" and here he drew a deck of cards from his pocket—"he doesn't have to worry about getting lost at all."
Marty studied the group amazement, then slowly went on: "I've tramped through more godforsaken bush than you fellows have ever seen, and this little pack has never let me down yet. Guess it never will."
By now even the club steward had dropped his chores to listen to Marty's explanation and, with his audience ready, Marty let them have it. "Well," he said, inspecting the cards in his hand, "whenever you're out in the bush and you think you're lost, you sit right down on the ground, take out your pack of cards and lay out a hand of solitaire. And I'll personally guarantee that within five minutes there'll be somebody looking over your shoulder."
If you are about to say you can tell this story another way, you are quite right. For instance, there is the version involving the intrepid explorer who always carries some gin and vermouth. As soon as he thinks he is lost, he starts to mix a Martini. Sure enough, a kibitzer materializes to tell him to make it a little bit drier.
"In this aria honest Guglielmo D'Alizzio swears a vendetta with the Internazionale Boxing Confederazione (Giacomo di Norrisetti, il presidente), which is demanding an exclusive contract with D'Alizzio's fighter in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. This announcement is greeted with cries of grief and sympathy by Giulio Helfandi, basso profundo, who rules boxing with an iron pizza but lately has shown signs of taking cream in his espresso. The prelude theme is then repeated and in a chorus filled with rage, curses and threats, newspaper writers sing the famous quartet 'Che cosa accade?' ('What's happening to the fight game?'). And then in the second act..."