Mason County News
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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 • Posted May 19, 2010

Mort’s ‘Birthday Bash’ Bubbling…

It was a "once in a blue moon" telephone call. My Aunt Maude, who usually has about as much use for a telephone as a meteorologist has for a Farmers’ Almanac, rang me up.

Ever the meticulous planner, she called to make sure we had Uncle Mort’s 98th birthday bash on our July 4th calendar. I assured her that we’ll make the trek to East Texas with pleasure and considerable anticipation.

A person devoid of guile, Maude might otherwise have called to make a twin-barbed jab at my double-barreled forgetfulness. For at least a couple of decades, I’ve mailed both birthday greetings and Happy Mother’s Day cards to Maude; this year, I forgot. The long-suffering wife of my Uncle Mort for 77 years would sooner believe the cards were lost in the mail than to blame me….

* * * * *

I asked her if she enjoyed Mother’s Day. Her response sounded like the one last year and the one before that. She had whipped up a country lunch for a couple of dozen kids, "grands" and "great-grands," topped off—as always—by saucer-sized slices of world-class strawberry pie. Then, the outdoor crowd tossed horse shoes and pitched washers. Inside, some whiled away the hours playing "42"; others were busy printing names on snippets of paper to be drawn at day’s end for Christmas gifting.

There was a dull roar with four generations present, and, when daylight hours gave way to history, the couple’s treasured twilight hours in front porch rocking chairs beckoned.

"We stayed out extra late," Maude said, "counting bird sounds when we could hear them above the cricket choruses. We lingered in the rockers for two hours, holding hands the whole time—him holding his and me holding mine."…

* * * * *

If the devil expects to get Uncle Mort into a corner, it won’t be an "idle mind/workshop" kind of deal.

The old guy’s mind is always spinning. Maude claims that he has more ideas in a day than most men do in a lifetime, and some of ‘em are good.

"He had a hard time deciding which tee-shirt to slip on this morning," my aunt said. "One of them read, ‘You have mistaken me for someone who cares.’ The other, ‘I’m just like a pool shark, except I miss too many shots and scratch too often’."…

* * * * *

Maude said that his latest project concerns use of solar energy to power his golf cart. (The cart has been the couple’s vehicle of choice since gasoline prices went north of $2 a gallon; that’s when Mort put his rickety old pick-up on blocks right behind the hen house.)

His inspiration came from a news article detailing plans for an airplane capable of circling the globe solely on solar power.

"If they can build a plane that can do that, surely I can make solar power work on my golf cart that putters around the thicket," Mort reasoned….

* * * * *

When Maude handed Mort the phone, I knew the remaining minutes would be taken by his hop-scotching over topics far-ranging from hither to yon.

He was "wired" to talk on about solar power. He’s dead certain that it could have been used in American homes for decades.

"The power company heavies didn’t ride in on a turnip truck," Mort said. "They aren’t pushing solar power because they don’t know what to do with customers who get behind on their bills. They can’t figure out how to turn off the sun!"…

* * * * *

Finally, Mort wanted to let me know about a landmark on the Interstate highway that’ll be helpful for folks trying to get to the home place down in the swamp.

"They’ve put up a new billboard," Mort bragged. "It reads: ‘Tattoos—While You Wait’." Mort figures those three words might provide comfort for customers who think they have to go through miles of government red tape to see if they qualify.

"I was surprised that they put up a tattoo ad," he added. "I thought they might use the space to promote the merger of FedEx and UPS, revealing that the new name is ‘Fed-Up’."

* * * * *

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

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