I don’t know if it’s cultural or anything, but the Brow has noticed how few Americans are familiar with the legendary Asterix & Obelix series (originally written in French). The comic, written for smart-assed kids and pun-loving adults, traces the adventures of Asterix & Obelix as they defend their little Gallic village from the Roman garrisons. How, you wonder, does one little village hold out against legions?
Well, it’s simple: they have a magic potion.
So beyond giving the comic creations super-strength, this potion must also have given the translators Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge reams of inspiration. Not many jokes are lost in translation, and we still get, as the UK Independent puts it, “a text layered with such glorious wordplay, satire and historical and political allusion.”
On the opening pages of the first book, called simply Asterix the Gaul, we are introduced to Centurion Crismus Bonus, who runs the nearby Roman encampment of Compendium. The other encampments are: Laudanum, Aquarium and Totorum (a pun on the British slang “tot o’rum” meaning “shot of rum”).
Their little dog is named Dogmatix. The village druid who makes the potion is called Getafix. Crismus Bonus’s assistant is Marcus Ginandtonicus.
Do you see what I mean? It’s a Narnia of puns.
My favorite character of all is the hapless village chief named Vitalstatistix.
The intro page to each book tells us that Vitalstatistix “has only one fear; he is afraid the sky may fall on his head tomorrow. But as he always says, ‘Tomorrow never comes.'”
So besides his lack of ambition, love of food and drink, and desire to live in the moment, why else might I really love Vitalstatistix?
Skydiving. That’s why.
Because Vitalstatistix reminds me that the idea of a human willingly turning themselves into something that falls from the sky is just absurd.
Each time I’ve gotta hear about another person who’s been skydiving, I want to shrivel up into my own nest of cowardice and just die.
What’s with all these people jumping out of airplanes? And don’t even get me started on the psychos who don wing suits and jump into Fjords.
What’s wrong with the usual daring feats like “running very far” or “driving very fast”???
Why has the new edge of ballsiness come to rest on whether or not a person is willing to fall from the sky for up to 5 minutes?
Which is to say: The Brow will try anything once. Anything, that is, except skydiving and heroin.
Honestly. Stop falling from the sky.
Vitalstatistix and I are over it.