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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 • Posted January 20, 2010

Aunt Maude to the Rescue…

I’ve written

During their recent holiday visit, Mort fell into mid-afternoon slumber, dozing off in front of a crackling fireplace.

We laughed, figuring that we’d have to wake him for dinner. Then we launched "chit-chat" at a lower volume and half the speed Mort chooses….

* * * * *

Maude asked

Marx, the show’s host and dean of radio wise-crackers, joked, "That’s a lie, but we’re going to give you the $50 anyway."

"Groucho probably never heard of lye soap," Maude admitted. "I’ve used it to put out washings during all of my ‘put-together’," contending that she could make this soap in her sleep. "Mort starts the wood fire and brings water to a good boil in the wash pot, then I take over," she explained.…

* * * * *

Maude was

I thought about our across-the-street neighbor who, several months ago, was gleeful as her dozen-year-old washer and dryer were wheeled out, surrendering to a shiny, state-of-the-art pair. (She wondered if she might qualify for membership in the "everything green" bunch.)

It hasn’t worked out that way. She should have been forewarned by Thomas Becon’s line in 1553. The quote, even with its quaint spelling, holds true: "All is not golde that glistereth." (Becon may have stolen the quote from Alain de Lille, a French theologian in the 1100’s who warned against holding "everything gold that shineth like gold." Authorities maintain that "fool’s gold" is the only kind that actually shines, but that’s a topic for another time.)…

* * * * *

Let the

With a few months of warranty remaining, my neighbor was confident that repairs would be made with dispatch. Sure enough, the repairman replaced the dispenser without charge. Before leaving, though, he offered several suggestions, including the placement of socks and such in a mesh bag. Another rep on a subsequent visit recommended the placement of a rubber mat under the machine. He warned her to avoid washing heavier items such as bath mats and beach towels, and to try half-loads. Still a third "alleged fixer" offered mournful words: "You’ve got one of the worst models ever," and that she’d "be better off with a set 10 years old," because they "made ‘em better in the old days."…

* * * * *

Maude had

My aunt preached "simplify," offering to give her a wash pot and the lye soap recipe.

"You’ll love the ‘smell and feel’ of line-dried clothes," Maude promised. "And remember, all lemons don’t grow on trees. Sometimes faulty products rub right up against 5 o’clock Friday at the factory."…

* * * * *

My neighbor

Sadly, she wished for her old set back--the one that never once needed repairs. Oh that her faulty washer could be back on the showroom floor where it had been on display just 16 months earlier. (Later, she learned an additional pertinent fact: the retailer no longer carries this model.)

"It reminds me that the people in the loan department at the bank ain’t the ones who write the advertising jingles," Maude analyzed….

* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

tried to jot down Maude’s suggestions. Some scribbles included: "No moving parts (unless broom handle and pliers used to repair clothes line are counted). No more waiting for service calls. No more ‘on hold’ sessions of nothingness after the recorded voice explains ‘how important her call is.’ No longer need to wedge ironing board between washer and wall to protect the latter."
heard enough. She walked briskly across the street, clearly on a mission. My neighbor needed encouragement; her warranty had expired and "washer woes" were mounting.
nightmarish chapter begin. Soon, the washer vibrated excessively, once bouncing into the wall. It left a softball-sized hole and broke the soap dispenser in the process.
ready to launch into washday details—jabbing the clothes with a broom handle, rinsing and hanging out to dry—unless it’s "coming up a cloud."
if I’d heard of Groucho Marx’s long-ago radio show, You Bet Your Life. Turns out that she and Mort were contestants more than 60 years ago. "I got to answer Groucho’s question about what to mix with water to get soap suds," Maude beamed. "I told him ‘lye’."
often about my Uncle Mort, who has spent all 96 years of his life down in the thicket. Rarely have I mentioned his wife, Maude, who in her own way, is as strong as garlic, too.

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