Rambling Thoughts from an Idle American

The need for “togetherness” helps us understand the herd mentality; yearning to rise above the pack is not so easily understood.

World record-keeping attests to humankind’s stretch to reach highest rungs in life’s ladder.

One of the greatest stretches is the “need for speed.”  It perhaps began with chariot racing, an event resulting with the discovery that rounded wheels roll faster.

The temptation is great to research our penchant for seeking spotlights that shine only on us. Alas, much of what impresses depends greatly upon which century historic events occur.

Wilbur and Orville Wright, for example, were eager to prove that birds don’t have exclusive rights to the air. Their first flight – four seconds in duration, 112 feet in length and hedge-clearing in altitude – made all the newspapers in 1903. Today, eyebrows would remain “unarched.”

Their “need for elevation” resulted in ascension to a rung devoid of footprints. The brothers would be amazed today by the guy who soared some twenty-four miles upward in a balloon, then bailed out for a 5-minute plus descent that would break the sound barrier. He lived to tell about it and basks in spotlight warmth – at least for now.

Inevitably, “best” and “worst” lists are particularly welcome as grist for talk radio. Some of the worst fall into “slowpoke” categories. (How oft we’ve scoffed at poking drivers, urging them to “move it or milk it” or “put a house number on it!”

Norm Hitzges, Dallas radio guru and perhaps the most knowledgeable sports figure ever – despite his never donning pads, riding ponies, swinging bats, or shooting baskets – recently ranked the nation’s worst airports.

He labeled Chicago’s O’Hare as the “very worst,” citing cancellations and delays so lengthy that sometimes babies are born there who were conceived there.

Uncle Mort recalls similar stories when train travel was king. Unlike the US mail, trains didn’t always have to go through, no matter snow or rain or dark of night.

He told of a baby delivered by a conductor who said the woman shouldn’t have gotten on the train in such a condition.

Her response: “When I got on this train, I wasn’t in this condition.”

My 100-year-old uncle, quite content on life’s middle rungs, heard about the Fort Hood gunman who’s refusing to cut his beard. He says if they’d turn his wife Maud loose on the guy for a few hours, he’ll happily shave to get her off his case.

“She’d have him clean-shaven before sundown if she harped on him like she does me,” Mort lamented. “She won’t stand for it if my ear and nose hair dangles for a day or two.”

Mort was actually trying to “change the subject,” since he forgot his wife’s 100th birthday.  (He made much of reaching the century mark in July.) On top of that, he smarted off about her “need for weight.” He wiggled out of that one, claiming she’s now on a serious diet–“going to great lengths to avoid great width.”

My uncle said that if he had the time, he’d like to study Lance Armstrong’s life. (Actually, he has time in abundance. Recently, his only physical activity during “recliner duty” came when Maud asked him to lift up his feet so she could sweep under ‘em.)

“Sadly, Lance’s spotlight, once bright enough for a midnight plane landing, has been snuffed out by lousy judgment,” Mort opines.

He said he dreamed of Bicycle Built for Two. “That was sad, too,” he mourned, “Lance was on the front seat and the back one was empty.”

Mort was saddened by the loss of “Big Tex” at the State Fair. The 52-foot icon went up in flames near the end of this year’s run. “They’re talking about bringing Tex back ‘bigger and better’,” he said. “That would be a mistake. Tex was already biggest, and we loved him because he was one of us – no better, no worse.”

We spoke of the $750 spent for Big Tex from his previous home in Kerens 60 years ago, and how it might require that much for the buttonholes when he’s re-clad.

Mort, noting that the icon “went down talking,” predicts that recipe contests at the ’13 fair will include a category for “twice-baked denim”

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Comments/speaking inquiries: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

Don Newbury presents a humorous collection of stories about his life in his book, When the Porch Light’s On.


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