Life Is Never What It Appears To Be

Across the centuries, the name “Rachel” has fared well among favored first names. It currently ranks number 79 among the top 4,200 most popular in the U.S., even though its literal meaning is “female sheep.” It dates back to the saintly Old Testament figure.

Nowadays, individuals so named risk being besmirched in cataclysmic proportions. “Rachel” could drop out of the top 4,200, perhaps even plummet into “worst of the worst” choices.

Lillie in her glasses

A robo-caller, “Rachel from Card Member Services,” begins her canned, spam-inspired spiel, with assurance that I’m in no trouble with my credit card. If I will but divulge credit card and Social Security numbers – ones I’d hesitate to share with next of kin – she can lower my credit card interest rate forthwith!

When she calls – as she does multiple times weekly to all of our numbers – my teeth grind, heart rate jumps and unchristian thoughts nudge me toward loss of religion. Oh, I can press one for this and two for that–theoretically ending forevermore the unwanted calls by entering my phone number after the beep or talking to a LIVE person!

I’ve tried both without success. One can’t enter numbers after the beep if it never comes, or talk to a LIVE person when his/her voice mail box is full. I weep with the Feds who strive to dismiss Rachel and her minions; if they’re ever located, “dismemberment” might be a more popular option.

In a recent dream, my last name was “Pilate.” It was mine to name an infant son, and dubbing him “Pontius” seemed preferable to naming a girl “Rachel.”

Speaking of names, my friend Jim Bob’s moniker officially is “James Robert.” But, he’s been “Jim Bob” since before getting permanent teeth.

He, like the rest of us, is trying to cope in a world of fears – both real and imagined. He’s got double locks, a home security system to discourage burglars and a fenced yard.

A yard sign at his San Angelo home warns, “GUARD DOG.”

Truth to tell, the guard dog is “Miss Lillie,” a pampered 12-year-old Red Heeler/Poodle cross. She isn’t up for much guard duty. She’s diabetic –  two insulin shots daily – has lost teeth and is slowed by arthritis. She’s nearly blind and has minimal hearing.

Her exercise is limited to accessing her food and water bowls and traipsing outside to the “necessary yard.”

Mostly, she sleeps in a comfy bed on Jim Bob’s side of the master king.

A while back, Jim Bob was awakened at three in the morning by a human voice. He nudged wife Jan, who also heard the sound.

Miss Lillie heard it, too, and crawled under the bed as far as she could burrow.

Jim Bob did what a man has to do. He grabbed his 9-mm firearm (fully licensed, as opposed to partially licensed), and tip-toed stealthily toward the kitchen. Miss Lillie crept with him, some 15 feet behind.

As he moved slowly down the hall, Jim Bob heard the voice grow louder. He lurched into the kitchen, ready to deal with whoever was “burgling.”

Drat it all; no one was there.

Aha, my friend was born at night, but not last night. The voice was coming from the adjacent hallway.

Firearm brandished, he entered boldly, feigning bravery a la Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. He so wanted his “stick ‘em up” demand to sound manly and authoritative.

But no one was there!

A broadcast-quality “voice” emitted from a super-modern smoke alarm. It was a verbal warning: “low battery, low battery.”

“Super-modern” reminds that Carthage, Texas, has the “jumbo-est of all “trons” at its football field, the biggest in the world of school boy stadia. Voters approved the $750,000 monitor by a two-thirds vote last spring. They’re mighty proud of their football team, thrice winners of AAA championships since 2008.

With dimensions of 26 feet tall and 44 feet wide, it can do many things with its 800,000 LED lights, including instant replays, animated graphics and faces in the crowd. Eight technicians use four cameras to keep Carthaginians entertained and statistically-enlightened about their Bulldogs.

What the ‘tron likely won’t be programmed to do, however, is show the movie, “Bernie.”

 Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments: Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site:

Humorist Don Newbury is author of When the Porch Light’s On.

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