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Idle American

On New Year’s Resolutions


My ancient Uncle Mort is not one to speak negatively of neighbors, unless they live at least three cattleguards away.

He recently “spilled the beans” on a neighbor who lives so deep in the thicket that no one passes his house going to town.

The old guy admitted to Mort recently that he had made a high-bar new year’s resolution. A fan of the grape, he vowed to swear off the devll’s brew, “except maybe on holidays.”

He said he maintained his sobriety until Valentine’s Day before uncorking a bottle, or “maybe it was two bottles.”

The challenge became daunting. He wasn’t sure he could make it until Easter without a drink. Then, he saw a newspaper ad proclaiming March as Ford Truck Month. This--he concluded--allowed him to substantially water down his sobriety pledge for a whole month.

Mort’s neighbor was “king’s X” on his resolution for 31 days.

My uncle said he’s been making monthly contributions for years to a small seminary back east that has added a new course. He’s thinking of cancelling contributions, perhaps even stopping payment on April’s $5 check.

He says the catalog’s description of one course is “beyond frivolous.” It claims to be “an in-depth study of nightmares, baptisms and the hereafter.”

Students already have re-named this course, calling it “bed, bath and beyond.”

A big fan of the Texas Rangers, Mort remains giddy about their 2023 World

Series championship. He bragged about the rings distributed recently.

Valued at $75,000 each, the rings are symbolic of much.

They are encrusted with enough “rocks” to start a landslide, an interchangeable top and--of all things--a secret compartment.

Their weight is about the same as the average baseball.

Players and about 40 other awardees--have gushed endlessly about the rings’ beauty, their gratitude and optimism about repeating as champions in the 2024 season.

Mort couldn’t believe it that the rings are so heavy.

My uncle is optimistic for the 2024 team, joining other fans whose hope flames eternal. He admits, however, that he’s concerned about bullpen depth.

Manager Bruce Boche and his coaches need to carefully inspect all relief pitchers before they reach the mound, according to Mort. Inspect? Huh?

  “Yeah, with them rings being so big, coaches must be certain that reliefers don’t wear them on the mound,” Mort joked. “If they insist on wearing their bling, they need to be sure it’s not on their pitching hands.”

Mort went to a tiny high school in East Texas. I never knew it until recently, but he was on the high school baseball squad. Trouble was, he said, there were too many boys in high school--ten.

Since only nine players were needed on the team, he was always the bench-warmer. On the final game of his senior year, the bases were loaded and the game was tied in the home half of the ninth inning. Two batters were out when the coach called his name to pinch-hit, despite Mort’s never having played in a game.

The coach rattled off specific instructions. “Mort, I want you to look that pitcher straight in the eye, crowd the plate and get hit!”

Forever the “concept guy” who leaves the details to others, Mort tips his hat to the Werner Ladder Company for its creative advertising in lockstep with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

For 15 years, Werner has manufactured custom ladders for winning “March Madness” teams, both men and women. This year, they turned out 60 ladders for all NCAA tournament divisions. “I made this suggestion decades ago, so I guess the ladder people must have come across some of my old letters, Mort believes.

Werner’s contribution has led to numerous illustrations about “climbing the ladder,” “reaching new heights” or “making it to the top.” Poor Mort. He remains a “concept guy,” a legend in his own mind.

Dr. Newbury, longtime university president, writes weekly and speaks throughout Texas. His is the state’s longest-running syndicated column of humor and inspiration. Contact: 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com.


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