The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

December 26, 2013

New thoughts from an old guy

By Don Newbury

GREENVILLE — I’m guessing my Uncle Mort’s “forward thinking” for the new year more likely is akin to “slumgullion stew,” or simply a “hodge-podge” of thoughts he’s carried forward to the new year.

His ideas are a “mish-mash” of miscellaneous ingredients rolled together, some of ‘em dating back a half-century or so. Included in the current mulling of my 101-year-old kin are truths, half-truths, what he’s heard, what he thinks he’s heard, and “hoopla” about government health insurance.

Altogether, they are light years away from reality. “Slumgullion” fits about as well as anything. Again this year, truth is stranger than fiction, and it’s growing ever tougher to tell ‘em apart….

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Mort believes the fraud who was passing himself off as a hand-signer for the deaf at the Mandela funeral may deserve the prize for “most convincing.”

“Millions believed he was ‘true-ern blue,’” Mort claims. “Turns out, his left hand didn’t know what his right was doing, and vice versa. He was mighty convincing, though, so surely there’s a spot for him in the front office of the Dallas Cowboys.”

He compared the signer with a TV wrestling showman from the 1950s called “Gorgeous George.” Mort claims the late wrestler was as handy with clever lines as the signer was with hand motions. “GG,” his carefully-coiffed dyed blond locks always in place and glitzy well before Liberace came along, claimed: “I don’t think I’m the best wrestler who ever lived…I don’t think I’m the most handsome man on the planet…And I don’t think I’m the smartest man who ever lived—BUT, what’s my opinion against millions of others?”…

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On a dime—the coin on which Uncle Mort always turns—he asked me if I knew how he could contact the ad people at Duck Dynasty. I suggested that he try Googling them. (He probably thought my wife and I visited their place during a recent visit to Louisiana.)

“I’ve got an idea they can build a segment on, or maybe turn into a product that might sell millions,” he claimed.

Then, he follows with, “Don’t you want to know what it is?” I am trapped, with little choice but to ask….

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“I’m working on a duck call so authentic it attracts decoys,” he claimed. “That ought to line up real straight with Duck Dynasty.”

It was pointless to challenge him; maybe he really is working on such a duck call. However, the ticket for this idea was punched by my friend, C. R. (Choc) Hutcheson in Lubbock. With his yarn, he was awarded first place in the Burlington, Wisconsin Liars’ Club Contest back in 1961. Paraphrased, here’s what is written on the certificate on the wall in his home:

For years I have been working to perfect a duck call. The first time I blew it, ducks swarmed in from all directions; the sky was black with them. I cut loose with my pump gun, killing my limit of six ducks with six shots. What is so strange about that, you say? Well, when I picked up those ducks, three of ‘em were decoys!…

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Muttering about the government’s claim to offer low-cost group insurance, Mort said it only applies if the whole group gets sick. Then, he told me about helping Maude make lye soap out back of the house in a huge wash pot. “I’m proudest of the label,” he bragged. “Our soap is both bacterial and anti-bacterial, whichever you want it to be.” I asked him how it could be both.

“Glad you asked, nephew. The researchers can’t decide, either. Some scream ‘bacterial’ is the way to go, and others are just as vocal for ‘antibacterial’. I’ll swear that no bacteria have been added. My escape clause will be ‘except for the germs stirred up on the dirt road from cars driving past the hog pen’.”

Few people ever argue with Uncle Mort. It’s just not worth it. My guess, though, is that before he’s gone very far into 2014, he’ll wash his hands of the lye soap project, perhaps favoring new lyrics for a song to help determine how long we should wash. “I know the ‘Happy Birthday Song’ is working pretty well, but it’s really hard to remember how many verses to sing,” he chuckled.…

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com.