Mason County News
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010 • Posted July 7, 2010

Sarah Palin Complicates Birthday Plans…

Uncle Mort, who completed 98 years on earth within hours of this writing, faced a fistful of unexpected pre-birthday decisions. Usually, his impalement is no more serious than the "horns of a dilemma." This time, it was more nearly a rack of antlers, like the points on a full-grown East Texas buck.

Learning that Sarah Palin had scheduled a stop in East Texas, Mort fretted that plans for his big birthday party would go awry.

His angst rubbed off on Aunt Maude, who made it clear from the "git-go" that she would like to go to the Palin rally at Tyler’s Oil Palace.….

* * * * *

The thicket was abuzz with the news that the political figure would include a Texas stop, sandwiched between appearances in California and Virginia in a span of 48 hours. Aunt Maude was caught up in the excitement, forgetting momentarily about a plethora of priorities for party preparation.

Sakes alive, there was so much to do before Mort blew out the candles on his July 4 birthday cake.

Then she thought about logistics. Her "druthers" changed when she thought of "riding shotgun" on Mort’s golf cart. She envisioned the sun beating down from a July sky on the 90-mile ride to Tyler; her make-up was bound to be a mess long before arrival. And almost surely there’d be embarrassment for the wind’s re-arrangement of posies on her big straw hat…..

* * * * *

At the same time, Mort had a smothering spell.

He learned that admission was $35 a head; parking would set him back another $8. He was miffed at the prospect of buying a couple of corn dogs, since the tab included no food. His eyes crossed when he calculated gasoline cost of some $15, not to mention a critical need for new tires on his golf cart.

Knowing financial arguments wouldn’t sway Maude, he chose another tack, citing bad tires and the danger of driving late at night—particularly at "his age." Then he mumbled about the difficulty of bouncing out of bed for church the next day….

* * * * *

Once in the "promise mode," he vowed to make a nice sign for the Palin speech. Maude liked the wording: "I Can See November From My House," realizing that the claim was a stretch. Sometimes they can’t see as far as the end of the current month.

He humored Maude with an iron-clad assurance that he’d mow the yard—front and back—and "make good" on a six-month-old promise to take down the sagging outdoor Christmas lights. The offer to buy Maude enough denim for a new skirt sealed the deal.

Truth to tell, Mort doesn’t care much for crowds, particularly when they have large numbers of lawyers. "Most of ‘em are politicians in the larval stage," he claims….

* * * * *

That night, Mort went to bed, his Big Chief tablet in hand. He fell asleep in minutes, tossing aside wadded up sheets of paper. Before "beddy-bye," Maude rounded up the trashed notes.

She knew immediately that Mort had been winnowing thoughts for his "impromptu" response at the upcoming party. (His "throw-away lines" included: "standing straight at 98," "still taking nourishment," "in good shape for the shape I’m in," and finally, "over, and over, and over the hill.")

Suddenly, he sat up in bed, saying he’d thought of a great line: "I’m still vertical and ventilating!"…

* * * * *

Maude gave him a peck on the cheek and then shared a secret: that he’d have an unprecedented quadruple-chocolate birthday cake. Then, Mort sauntered out to the front porch, taking in a full measure of the fresh night air. He heard thicket sounds that poked holes in the darkness. On his knees by the rocking chair, he offered a prayer of thanksgiving and a plea for rain to cool the parched land.

"I always ask God not to bother with rain on both the ‘just’ and the ‘unjust’," Uncle Mort opined. "If He favors the ‘unjust’ with a gullywasher, I’ll make sure the ‘just’ get their share from Maude’s teakettle." He howled with laughter at a story he’d told a thousand times. Never mind that his "audience" included only critters of the thicket. They paid him no mind, long considering him to be one of their own.

In those wee hours, a jet plane with Sarah Palin on board streaked across the black velvet sky. Upon landing, she’d hurry to her next engagement, and Mort would be sleeping in….

* * * * *

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

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