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The Idle American
Uncle Mort and Double Whammies...
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 • Posted January 25, 2012

My Uncle Mort claims to have a sixth sense that warns of upcoming “whammies.” As long as they arrive in single file, he can handle ‘em with grace—dodging, hiding or meeting head- on.Double “whammies,” though, are tough, often unpredictable and unstoppable. Some are borderline unbelievable. He was “doubled up” the other day when two volleys of news from the corporate world broadsided his usually tranquil life in the thicket. My 99-year-old kin, at peace with himself and his world, was several shavings into an afternoon of whittling when jarred by radio news. He was stunned that his two daily treats—Dublin Dr Pepper and Hostess Twinkies—are no more. Wobbly of mind, he felt clammy, with symptoms of a smothering spell and apoplexy, which is even worse. Surely this double-dosed demise couldn’t be true….*****His kids and grandkids knew to grab several cases of Dr Pepper when they traveled through Dublin, for 120 years home of Dr Pepper’s oldest bottling plant. Twinkies, until now, had been easy to come by at the general store up the road.A tear coursed down Mort’s cheek. This devastation was as bitter as his decision back in the 1970’s to end his daily intake of RC Colas and MoonPies.With RC’s scarce and MoonPies available only by mail, Mort opted for Dublin Dr Pepper and Hostess Twinkies, figuring they’d always be around. Alas, now Hostess shuts down, and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group gobbles up Dublin Dr Pepper….*****When I dropped by to visit my uncle, he was speaking in gasps. Finally settling down, he announced that he might celebrate his 100th birthday this summer in Mobile, AL, his proposed “new home.”“I never expected to leave the thicket, but when I learned they lower a 600-pound electronic MoonPie facsimile from the 34-story RSA BankTrust skyrise at midnight to start the new year, it got my attention. More than 60,000 revelers gathered—some of ‘em gobbling free MoonPies and others forking over cash to buy ‘em. Bands play and fireworks light up the sky in the city that hosted the first known Mardi Gras celebration back in 1703,” Mort said. “They call it ‘MoonPie over Mobile’, and if I can talk ‘em into lowering a giant bottle of RC Cola from a tall building, we might get RC Cola and MoonPies linked up again.” (Mort also is impressed that all the related events benefit the Salvation Army and McKemie Place, a Mobile shelter for homeless women.)My uncle thinks he can ignite a cola-and-pie comeback to shock the corporate giants like they shocked him….*****“More than anything, I need to just settle down and get my whittling project done,” Mort said. “I’m sure the NFL in general and Tim Tebow in particular will be interested in it.”“Are you whittling a Tim Tebow bobblehead doll?” I asked. “Absolutely not,” Mort bristled, “It’s not a doll, it’s an action figure.”He said the white pine carving doesn’t bobble, but does have a moving part—a swivel in its right knee for kneeling….*****“I just wish the world could learn to get along,” Mort lamented, reminding me that he is as angry as his late sister—my mother—when exasperation sets in. “She’d have sided with the Dublin folks calling the corporate behemoths ‘soda jerks’ and offer a big ‘amen’ to the critic who accused the moguls of ‘euthanasia.’”“I’ve half a mind to just snatch somebody bald-headed,” she’d have added, spewing the words out slowly.My mother and Mort were alike in many ways, though I don’t think she ever learned to whittle….*****When Mort calmed a bit, I drove away, wondering if I should have mentioned to him that the Dr Pepper Snapple Group owns RC Cola, too. And if it is determined that a giant RC Cola replica is to be lowered in Mobile, he won’t be central to the deliberations.Come to think of it, it might be easier to resurrect Hostess, or find another company to make Twinkies. And, since the Dr Pepper plant in Temple, TX, turns out drinks with real sugar and the identical old recipe, the need to battle the corporate giant is negated.Mort could forget about snatching anyone bald-headed and could get back to his project. After all, the world needs more action figures—particularly those who are sure of what they are doing, saying and believing….*****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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