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The Idle American
"Slimmest of Odds..."
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 • Posted February 28, 2013

There’s nothing to support it, but a fascinating contention looms nonetheless. Lottery opponents say if you want to win the lottery, simply open your window. The odds of purchasing a winning ticket—and one blowing in through your window—are about the same. Odds may be similar on how a museum accident may lead to a man’s decision to remove a wedding ring he’s worn for 80 years.

The gent is my 100-year-old Uncle Mort, who chanced to read Steve Blow’s Sunday column in The Dallas Morning News despite it not being on his Sunday afternoon agenda to do so. He was on his golf cart—headed for the general store on a “non-agenda” mission. He figured there’d be enough cohorts present to discuss global warming, immigration and/or dwindling whooping crane numbers. (At a previous general store confab, his foursome recommended teaching regular cranes to whoop.) Probably, though, the afternoon would be whiled away at the domino table.

He claims he was “zooming” along at about 10 MPH—10 times faster than a cruise ship in tow—when a newspaper blew out of a speeding convertible, shrouding his face….

    *****

Mort easily puttered to a stop on the shoulder of the road. He unrolled the newspaper from his noggin, and a column headline caught his eye: “Scary finger injury has a ring of truth.”

Columnist Blow explained how a visitor to Dallas’ Perot Museum of Nature and Science lost a ring finger during a vertical jump to determine how participants “measure up” to athletes’ leaps. His wedding ring caught on something.

He came down, but his finger didn’t….

    *****

Blow went on to tell of several mishaps each month where wedding rings are caught in machinery, on basketball goals or numerous other objects.

This set Mort to worrying; “what ifs” crowded his mind. No longer interested in seeing his buddies, he headed back home. Perusing an encyclopedia, he learned that women have worn wedding rings for centuries, but grooms have commonly worn them only since the end of World War II.

He was pretty sure he could remember to avoid taking vertical jumps in museums, but he feared getting his ring caught in other ways—maybe while pitching horseshoes, baiting fish hooks, saddling horses, sky diving from planes or repairing his golf cart….

    *****

How, though, could he convince Maude that continuing to wear his wedding ring could be hazardous to his health?

He likewise questioned himself. Would he feel “less married”?

Mort always claimed that he “wrote the Constitution for his marriage,” but that he’s also accepted all of Maude’s amendments….

    *****

He began by showing her the column. They “tsk/tsked” in unison, shocked that so many accidents each month claim ring fingers.

As they nodded in agreement about possible dangers, my uncle decided it was the right time to seek permission to remove his wedding ring and keep it forthwith in their lock box.

Mort was surprised how quickly she agreed. However, she added one proviso: His nose ring stays in place ‘til death do they part….

    *****

It’s unlike Mort to worry about things unworthy of worry.

He’s always enjoyed telling about a woman on the adjoining farm who is a world-class worrier. Years ago, she fretted greatly about visiting San Francisco, afraid the fog would prevent her seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay air wouldn’t be fit to breathe and that she might get hurt riding the cable car.

Well, she saw the bridge perfectly, and she took deep breaths of crisp bay air. Yet, she feared getting on the cable car. If her foot chanced to contact the rail, would she be electrocuted? A young Californian explained that unless she swung her other leg over the wire above, she had nothing to worry about….

    *****

Mort smiled, mostly at the thought of his neighbor’s silliness, but also at his own. How could he ever entertain the possibility of putting his wedding ring away?

He’d take his chances on continuing to wear it. That’s a heap better than riling Maude, who at such time might vow, “With this ring, I thee sue.”

He headed back to the general store, hoping there’d be one laggard there ripe for a “clock-cleaning” in checkers….

    *****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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