What’s wrong with this picture? I couldn’t have been more surprised to see a postman at the front door with a loaf of bread. Instead, it was a bread deliveryman with a letter. He was soaked to the gills by yet another deluge of rain, but he was careful to keep his “special delivery letter” dry as he dashed from truck to porch.
“This here’s from your Uncle Mort,” he said. “When I was stocking the bread rack at the general store down in the thicket today, he complained that he wasn’t going to spend no 92 cents to mail a letter a dozen miles up the road. He offered me some shelled black-eyes if I’d drop it off to you. I live near nearby, and the thought of putting away a mess of homegrown peas appealed greatly.”
He bounded off the porch, and there I stood holding a fat envelope with seven damp pages of Uncle Mort’s “take” on the news near and far. It was a first for me, getting a letter smelling of wet cinnamon. Maybe the bread man tossed it on the sweet roll stack for the ride in from the thicket….
Perhaps you’ve read about my uncle here before. Some might say he doesn’t play with a full deck; I think that he simply views life from different angles than most of us.
Whatever, I couldn’t wait to plop down and learn what was on Uncle Mort’s mind these days. There’d been not a word from him or Aunt Maude for a good six weeks.
His letter, written over several days, made me wonder if Mort has been staring at too many raindrops….
“Ain’t this rain sumthin?” he opened. “It’s been so muddy Maude’s had to wear waders out in the garden to gather peas. And all the creeks down here in the thicket are running so high you can see under ‘em!”
He joked about how life can get so backward. “Can you believe that they’re talking of canceling all the July 4th holiday fireworks because it’s too wet?
Last summer, it was so dry that the fireworks show was scrubbed. One of my neighbors went fishing instead, and he caught a catfish with ticks on it.”
In the next paragraph, I knew that someone had left a newspaper behind at the general store. These are the only ones Mort ever sees; usually, they’re several days old.
He started rattling off his views on recent news items, and the topics ran the gamut.
I smiled when he mentioned how he figures Paris would have loved a Hilton in this springtime….
Then, he got surly. “We Americans used to talk about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps,” Mort said. “Now we’re a heap better at beating ourselves down, and the press helps us do it.”
He mentioned that he’d never suggested a column item to me, but this time, he’s compelled to do so.
Mort was on a roll. “Reporters who used to have ‘noses for news’ now mostly use them for collecting nose hair,” he claimed. “They’re so used to writing negative stories, they overlook some good ones that come along. They missed a dilly the other day, so if you’ll write about it, some folks will learn about it for the first time.” He thinks the item provides a massive national “pat on the back” for Americans who are hungry to believe they’ve done something right….
I was on his wave length, and I couldn’t agree more. I had seen the news item, brief as it was, buried in the newspapers and mostly ignored on newscasts. It revealed that in 2006, Americans’ charitable giving set a new record — some $300 billion, with about a third of the total given to churches. That’s an average gift of about a thousand dollars from every man, woman and child living in the U.S., and that’s front page news….
Then, Mort shifted gears to watermelons, pointing out that the Japanese have developed cube-shaped melons. (I had seen the item, wondering whether 200 American dollars for each was a misprint.)
“I’m going to try to develop a catfish-shaped melon,” Mort wrote. He thinks they’ll sell like hotcakes. “When doctors tell us to eat more fish, we can say, ‘Doc, I put away half of a fish-melon just yesterday.’”
That’s when I thought maybe Mort’s been watching too many raindrops….
Dr. Don Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. His telephone number is (817) 447-3872. His Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.