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Uncle Mort and Silver Linings…
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 • Posted July 30, 2008

When he’s really steamed, my Uncle Mort becomes a different person. His glasses fog over, his voice shakes, and Aunt Maude fears his blow-up might boil into a full-scale smothering spell.

During his phone call from the thicket a few nights back, I heard a crackling voice that might have reached 8.5 on the Richter Scale.

Why, his voice would have melted butter on a day-old waffle….

  • * * * *

His shape wasn’t bent out by high gasoline prices. Or the presidential race. Or the wretched three-digit temperatures on the weather charts.

His anger wasn’t centered on global warming, world hunger or wars across the seas.

He was heated up because of threats to eliminate a heat source that he says should have millions of Americans riled up. “When the government tells us not to eat jalapeños, school is out, last straws are broken, and Katy’s door is plumb ‘unbarred,’” my uncle fumed….

  • * * * *

He claimed scriptural backing. “Man don’t live by bread alone, but he might make it if you throw in jalapeños,” he chuckled, admitting that he’d paraphrased a bit.

There was a long pause, then a big sigh. I instantly sensed that the “regular Mort” was back on the line.

“My brain’s whipping up a great plan that can make me a bunch of cash,” he bragged….

  • * * * *

“It’ll take more than a salmonella scare to shoot down this scheme,” my uncle said. (In the background, Aunt Maude winced. When her old hubby schemes, she knows that a boondoggle usually isn’t far behind.)

Mort said that a few days back, when tomatoes were thought to be sources of salmonella, he bought a boatload of green ones “on the cheap.” His plan? Trade the tomatoes for a load of jalapeños offered in “fire sales” down South. “I’m gonna scrub ‘em up, and then scrub ‘em down, and they’ll bring five bucks apiece when advertised as being both disease-free and organic,” he predicted. Texans ARE going to have their jalapeños….

  • * * * *

Uncle Mort, known for changing the subject on a dime, and sometimes between syllables, started rambling.

Next, he took on the feds, laughing about the plan to retire one-dollar bills in favor of one-dollar coins. “It’s costing the government nearly two cents to make a penny and close to a dime to make a nickel, so no telling how much it’ll wind up costing to make a dollar,” he joked.

“Inflation being what it is, maybe a modified expression will describe down-and-outers lacking two dollars to rub together.”…

  • * * * *

He then addressed the Dallas squabble about putting the zoo’s 22-year-old elephant out to pasture. And continued bickering about locating the presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

“Some of ‘em want the elephant sent to Mexico, and others are pushing for Tennessee,” Mort said. “I’ve got an idea that might help out.”

Mort, frequently one of oblong thinking, offered this: Send the elephant to SMU, and the Bush Library to Tennessee. “’Course, Al Gore might re-route the elephant to Mexico,” he chortled….

  • * * * *

The old-timer also had a unique “take” on Starbucks’ shuttering 600 stores, just when he’d “learned to pronounce a few of the drinks’ names.”

What’s the deal on all this coffee news? Only a few days before the Starbucks’ announcement, Proctor and Gamble decided to sell its Folgers brand to Smucker’s in a $3 billion stock deal. Mort claimed to be “squarely between the horns of a ‘ponderment’’’ about the transaction. (He explained that a “ponderment” differs from a dilemma only in that the latter has a reasonable expectation for resolution.)

He opined thusly: “Smucker’s may have waked one day to smell the coffee. And maybe on that same morning, P&G decided that the days are numbered for any of us to have a “best part of waking up.”…

  • * * * *

My uncle then launched into the story of the eight-year-old girl who served him and Aunt Maude “special coffee.”

He took a sip, noticing a tiny plastic soldier bobbing in the brew. “Wow, this is special coffee,” he laughed.

“Sure is,” the youngster said, “The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup!”…

  • * * * *

Mort ended the conversation with a quick switch back to jalapeños.

He turned serious, bragging about his “new invention” that might vault him into wealth and fame. The “new invention”? Jalapeño popsicles.

Mort’s always coming up with “new inventions”—and they make Aunt Maude’s hair hurt. This is his first “on a stick” project, however….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: Phone: 817-447-3872. Website:

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