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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 • Posted June 23, 2010

‘What If’s’ and an Old Shoe…

Uncle Mort, my 97-year-old kin down in the thicket, sometimes goes a "fer piece" on trails where rabbits fear to tread. When his fascination and imagination are revved up, his mind whirls into nooks and crannies not found on maps.

"Last week, he was spinning enough cobwebs for a ten-year spider crop, leaving me to do all the chores without a lick of help," Aunt Maude fretted.

A tiny news item caught his eye; his mind shifted into "what if" gears….

* * * * *

The headline hooked him like a catfish after dough bait: "World’s Oldest Leather Shoe Found in Armenian Cave."

"I thought I had old shoes," he laughed. "But compared to that one, mine are brand new."

He had a hard time visualizing a 5,500-year-old shoe that predated the pyramids by a thousand years. Mort’s prattle about the discovery heightened. When he mentioned hitch-hiking to Armenia, Maude told him to "stuff it." He spoke of buying the shoe, then organizing a needle-in-a-haystack search to find its mate. "No telling what a pair of ancient shoes would be worth," he reasoned….

* * * * *

Had it stopped there, he might not have been banished to the barn for continuance of his pipe-dreaming.

"This could even make saddle soap a hot item," he added. "I’ve got a trailer load I bought for a song years ago. News of leather hanging around this long, coupled with budgets crimped by the recession, could have folks ‘saddle-soapin’ shoes they even forgot they own," he grinned.

Then he thought about how he might react the next time he’s labeled "common as an old shoe." He wasn’t sure if he’d smack ‘em upside the head or extend thanks for recognizing his caveman lineage….

* * * * *

Mort’s dreaming didn’t end there. He imagined ad tie-ins to Buster Brown shoes and stock purchases of Mother Goose rhymes. "Genealogists will come out of the woodwork to trace the oldest woman ever to live in a shoe," he joked.

Maude, gathering eggs nearby, realized that Mort’s babbling was unfair to the horses and cows. "They probably hate his prattle, too," she thought....

* * * * *

She decided to try to get his mind off the subject with an old hiccup remedy. Maude reminded him that the 6 o’clock news had begun on TV.

They watched President Obama signing a document; Maude wondered about the BIC letters on his pen.

"My guess is, the letters stand for ‘Because I Can,’" Mort cackled….

* * * * *

At bedtime, Maude carefully hid the newspaper clipping about the old shoe. "Out of sight, out of mind," she figured.

The next morning, she got up first, like always, to prepare a wonderful breakfast—the kind Mort always claims to be "as good as he ever lapped a lip over." Featured are mouth-watering biscuits the size of lily pads, made from scratch, of course. He also loves the sausage patties, eggs and butter she churned a few days earlier—all of this topped off by a final biscuit oozing rivulets of butter and blackberry jam. "I eat it as fast as I can," he explains. "If I think about it too much, my mouth starts watering, and I don’t want to dilute it none." He pours another cup of coffee, insisting "It don’t take much water to make good coffee."

After the repast, they retreat to cane-bottom chairs on the front porch, about the time the sun’s shadow hits IX on the sun dial.

Maude, her mind in yesteryear mode, starts talking about doctors’ endorsement of running barefoot. Then she makes an unlikely proposition: "Want to race to the mailbox?" He does, and off they go, dust flying down the 100-yard path. They arrive at exactly the same time, laughing heartily.They wiggle their toes in a bed of mint; he tears off a sprig for afternoon tea. Mort and Maude, hand in hand, walk slowly back to the house, humming "I got shoes, you got shoes, all of God’s children got shoes."…

* * * * *

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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