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The Idle American
"Mort Ignores Birthday 101..."
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 • Posted August 7, 2013

My Memories of Uncle Mort go all the way back to the onset of World War II—that’s when my recall served instead of going AWOL like today.

Nothing has changed; he’s still in the memory-making business, fully determined to swim against the current of conventional wisdom. His fun-loving spirit still soars.

If we had a shoe for every time we waited for another one to drop during one of Mort’s shenanigans, there’d be enough for most third world children to be shod. When he keeps us guessing, his life is fulfilled….

    *****

For his 101st birthday, though, Mort outdid himself. On July 4—when he jokes that the nation annually declares a national holiday in his honor—we expected big pots to be crammed into smallest. But nothing happened.

Instead, there was no party. Zilch. Except for a few Independence Day fireworks hither and yon, it was just another day in the thicket at Mort and Maude’s place.

Aunt Maude, who’s been hitched to Mort for 80 years, observed her 100th birthday a few months back. Mort forgot about it. As silent as stone-faced Mount Rushmore, she was “unmiffable” yet again. She vowed, though, that if anything was to be mentioned about his upcoming 101st, he’d do it. Turnabout is fair play….

    *****

This week, Mort called to ask if I remembered Johnny Carson’s line: “Anyone can grow up to be president. And anyone who doesn’t grow up can be vice president.”

Then he drudged up Jerry Clower’s old story about the church kids who managed to substitute persimmon wine for communion. “Ending the service, the preacher asked congregants to stand and whistle the closing hymn,” Mort cackled.

Before he could drag up another one, I interrupted to ask about the non-party….

    *****

Mort paused for the first time in a long time. He didn’t exactly blame the printer; it was more like he laid “approximate” blame there.

On June 15, Mort went into town to pick up printed birthday invitations he’d proofed a week earlier—mostly to make sure the hated “no gifts please” line DIDN’T appear. What he didn’t see was a date error. The “invite” was for 2 p.m. on July 4, 2014.

What to do for an old geezer who climbs over gates to save the hinges?...

    *****

To mail or not to mail—that was the question. Determined not to waste the invitations, he squirreled them away to use next year.

“Maybe I’ll get twice as many gifts, or the ones I get will be twice as nice,” Mort opined.

He said he’d gotten several calls about why the party wasn’t held. Shoes were dropping all over the thicket….

    *****

Mort thinks he made the right decision.

“I can’t remember a July when folks have had so much on their minds,” he said, referencing the weather, forest fires, the guy’s defection to Russia and Detroit’s bankruptcy.

He then launched into “name-calling”—for England’s new royal baby and the Dallas Cowboys’ home. “If the Cowboys don’t play better this fall, the communications giant springing for naming rights will have every right to be ‘AT&Teed’ off.”…

    *****

He then switched back to stories he’d been saving up.

Mort said that intake of one pint of buttermilk per day is critical for folks who want to live to be 100.

I told him of a friend who drank a pint of buttermilk daily, but died at 85. “That’s it,” Mort joked. “He didn’t drink it long enough.”…

    *****

“Nephew, always remember that the only thing that can ruin a good story is an eye witness,” he joked, handing the phone off to Aunt Maude.

“Before you judge me too cruelly about the non-party, you need to know that I did bake him a chocolate cake, decorated with a single sparkler. But he had to light it.”

Then, lowering her voice to a whisper, she added, “I’ve decided to wait for a few more weeks to break the news to Mort that mice tore into his box of invitations. I advised him not to print ‘em on cheese-flavored cards, even if they were 2/3 off. I’m thinking they are used mostly for invitations to Tupperware parties.”…

    *****

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

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