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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 • Posted September 1, 2010

Clucks—Here, There, Everywhere….

Humpty-Dumpty’s great fall comes across as mere child’s play against the backdrop of today’s serious egg issues. Egg farmers in the dell and beyond are suffering negative publicity, stroked broadly with brushes that, truth to tell, ought rightly to cover as few as two farms in Iowa.

With confirmed salmonella cases approaching 2,000 at this writing, egg distributers are scrambling to recall some 600 million eggs—just to be safe.

Taken for granted, eggs usually are mentioned in ads—not news stories stretching over a period of weeks….

* * * * *

Truth be told, eggs are important not only to diets, but also to jokes, stories and object lessons.

There’s an exhaustive list, including "good eggs" to describe quality people, "rotten eggs" to denote the "last ones in," and "facial eggs" for the legions of us when we foul up.

We "egg" others on with "double-dog dares" and yuck it up when the "yolk’s on us."

We laugh politely as old farm stories are trotted out for the "umpteenth" time—like the kid who claimed that the wind was blowing so hard, a hen laid the same egg three times….

* * * * *

Late country comedian Jerry Clower told stories with the best of ‘em. Often, the former Yazoo City, Mississippi, fertilizer salesman was requested to "re-tell" stories that he’d already "re-told" several times. One detailed his first visit to a "caffay" (café to the purist).

"How do you like your eggs?," the waitress asked. "I like ‘em fine," Clower responded.

As to how many eggs he’d like, he answered, "I wouldn’t ‘yeller up’ my mouth for less than a dozen!"…

* * * * *

As a 10-year-old, I got my money’s worth with the dime I spent to see Claudette Colbert and Fred McMurray in a black-and-white movie called The Egg and I. I never want to see the spoof again, because a second viewing, 63 years later, likely would cause me to lower it from the rave status offered at the time to "cornball humor" today.

The stars, "citified" to the max, decided to buy a farm. Their inability to cope with country life was evident; they never got passed E-I-E-I-O..

In stark contrast were the folks on the next farm. In supporting roles that catapulted them to popularity were Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, Ma and Pa Kettle—"the Beverly Hillbillies in slow motion." The couple and their 15 kids followed up with 10 films over the next decade, producing belly laughs that jiggled across America. (In one memorable scene, the Kettles, dining at a fancy restaurant, were intrigued by a waiter serving cherries jubilee. When Pa saw the leaping flame, he threw his jacket over the fancy dessert, yelling, "Everybody out! Women and children first!")...

* * * * *

I warned you about the "corniness." At least in this edited version I omitted initial references to "cackles and clucks." And to Looney Tunes’ rooster character featured in 28 cartoons—one Foghorn J. Leghorn.

Maybe you could have better used the time checking the fridge for brand names and expiration dates on your egg cartons. Or, if you’re fretting over a trip to Iowa, order "ham and egg substitute" at the diners.

On the whole, of course, eggs are safe. The tainted ones represent .00000-something of one percent. Eggs are, as ads have trumpeted for three decades, both "incredible and edible."

Aren’t we glad that Christopher Columbus—or maybe credit should go to the early Polynesians—brought laying hens to these shores?...

* * * * *

My old daddy, himself of rural upbringing, spoke often of the first time he saw corn flakes displayed at the grocery store. "I wish we could have corn flakes for breakfast," he lamented, "All we ever have are biscuits, ham and eggs."

A wonderful story teller, he told of a classmate came to school with dried egg ‘twixt nose and lip. Noting the residue, the teacher kidded that she knew what they’d had for breakfast that morning at his house. "No ma’am," he answered. "We had eggs yesterday morning."

Oh, well. At least there’s something in the news besides the oil spill. British Petroleum is plenty ready to forfeit the news spotlight to tainted eggs, or whatever….

* * * * *

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

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