Mason County News
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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 • Posted February 17, 2010

Uncle Mort and Counting…

A few days after the Super Bowl, I bade "so long" to the Interstate, knowing that the sun-splashed highway would be visible only with headlights upon resumption of my travels a few hours later. It was time for my semi-annual visit to the thicket where Uncle Mort and Aunt Maude have been residents for 97 years.

I wanted to get Mort’s "take" on current affairs, and to watch Maude shake her head in wonderment. Everyone has known for decades—and Maude’s been privy to the probability since they were wed nearly 80 years ago—that Mort spends waking moments trying to outsmart the world.

A woman of few words, she made this observation before I tracked him down in the backyard: "Nothing’s changed out here, nephew," she laughed. "Mort is still looking at everything sideways." Then she added, "As long as he’s out, I don’t think they’ll lock him up, but if they ever lock him up, I doubt that they’ll ever let him out."…

* * * * *

Mort was alternating between laughter and groans. Forfeiting his old pick-up truck for a golf cart when gasoline prices skyrocketed, he was taking his grease gun to the accelerator when I interrupted.

"I try to grease this sucker every five years," Mort said. "Been reading about you car-driving people having trouble with accelerators. The only time ‘recall’ is mentioned around here is when I’m trying to remember where I left the grease gun."

He was punch-pleased that even if the pedal sticks, he can either jump off or keep it between the fences at top speed of 10 MPH until the tank empties….

* * * * *

I made the mistake of asking about the moans.

"Down in my back, nephew," was his answer. "It’s getting tougher to load a 50-inch TV on my golf cart the day before the Super Bowl, and then return it to the store two days later."

Oh, no! This vignette reminded me why the clerks run the other way when Mort enters the store to make sure they still have the "48-hour-no-questions-asked return policy."…

* * * * *

Then, he switched to the game. "I never dreamed I’d profit from New Orleans winning the Super Bowl," he bragged, "but I’ve come up with a book that’s bound to make me rich, particularly in Louisiana."

He showed me the manuscript of How to Speak ‘Who Dat’ in Ten Easy Lessons. Truth to tell, it is a replication of Pig Latin, a "language" born of boredom many decades ago and seldom used today.

"In words beginning with consonants, the initial consonant is moved to the end of the word followed by ‘ay’," he explained. "So, ‘Saints’ would be "Aints-say." (There are a few more rules, but reading them invites eye-crossing.)…

* * * * *

On one point, Mort and I agreed.

We nodded that it was common to hear "Sooner Nation" referring to University of Oklahoma football and "Red Sox Nation" commonly heard synonymously with Boston Red Sox baseball. We decided on the need to "practice up" for similar application to New Orleans Saints football.

Where shall we place emphasis? "WHO-dat Nation?" "who-DAT Nation?" Or maybe "who-dat NATION?"…

* * * * *

About that time, a woman—a bona fide representative of the United States government—entered the back yard, startling Uncle Mort. He isn’t used to having two visitors at once.

Pad in hand, she began her spiel. "Every decade, the government tries to find out how many men, women and children live in this country," she explained. "I’m plumb sorry, ma’am," Uncle Mort apologized. "But you’ve done come to the wrong house, ‘cause I don’t know."…

I figured it was time to wind my way up the country roads to the Interstate and get back in the race. I wondered if my accelerator would stick…if I could remember Pig Latin without buying Uncle Mort’s new book, and if the census lady was still laughing. I thought of Mort’s insistence to omit "marching" from the Saints’ famous song. "They didn’t ‘march’ in," he contended. "The Saints ‘passed in,’ ‘kicked in’ or even ‘barged in,’" he said. I thought of the post-game shot of teary-eyed MVP quarterback Drew Brees, hugging his infant son. I think he "soared in."…

* * * * *

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

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