Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
Most folks whose age is within a quarter-century of my Uncle Mort’s 103-plus years are happy to be moving at all. A few are willing to catch falling stars, tickled at the prospect of experiencing one final “whoosh,” even if pointed downward.
Mort, though, places limits on his “wagon-hitching.” He’s determined to seek trajectories aimed upward toward new heights. He continues to be an enigma, bearing head-on the challenge of “gearing up” to the year’s hardest work during the holiday season while many other seniors relax.
He envisions days between now and December 25 to be equivalent to the workload of Santa’s elves. It’s a strong claim by a guy committed to putting off until tomorrow what should be done today….
He recently vowed to join others in “taking it easy” as the holidays grow near. But that was before Aunt Maude laid down the law to “clean out” his workshop. It’s a stance she always takes when contents fall from the windows and through door cracks, winding up in the backyard—“her space.”
Mort knew she was serious when she set a deadline calling for “substantial progress” immediately. And it’s dead certain she’ll be “judge and jury” in application of strictest definitions for “substantial” and “immediately.”
Feeling the barbs of her threat, Mort got “high behind.” He assigned numerous wooden items to a stack big enough to fuel a bonfire for a “thicket-wide,” all-night wiener roast….
One box extracted from a stack crammed under his muzzle-loading table caught Mort’s eye. His thoughts shifted from her sentiment of “good riddance to bad rubbish” to dreams of quick riches. How could he have forgotten the joys of his wood-burning kit that brought him so much pleasure some 90 years ago?
Wiping away several decades of crusted dust, he was amazed to see all contents in place. There were “points” of various sizes, as well as a brittle sheet of instructions.
Mort all but teared up as he thought of happy depression-era days whiled away with “creative” burning of wood. He transformed planks from wooden crates into wall art suitable for framing. Initially, he kicked himself at the memory of giving the items away before he remembered they were Christmas gifts….
Mental wheels turning, he couldn’t wait to “plug it in.” Locating the workshop’s only electrical outlet, he inserted the plug. Eureka! The point long in place on the wood-burner glowed with heat.
Before the iron was red hot, Mort already was envisioning clever phrases he’d imprint on scrap wood.
There wasn’t time enough to develop his “best ever marketing plan,” but Mort envisioned selling his, uh, “rustic creations,” spewing a spiel of his “art” being available “just in time for Christmas.” Plus, his shop-clearing assignment would be accomplished by extraction of so many planks that soon would be “transformed” into money-makers instead of fuel for a fire…..
“I’ve already turned out some artistic signs,” he told me during a phone call the other day. “The one I’m going to push for door-to-door sales reads ‘No Solicitors Allowed’.” (He also has high hopes for “Kitchen Is Closed.”)
He bragged about others for retail stores, schools, government and theaters. For stores, he recommends “We Have Stuff You Can’t Buy Online.” Schools: “It Ain’t School We Dislike; It’s the Principal of the Thing.” Government: “Quit Worrying About the Debt We’re Passing on to Our Grandchildren.”
He waxes Shakespearean for community theaters: “Taboo or not Taboo.”…
I doubt the one he’s offering to airports will gain much traction: “If Your Jokes at Security Points are Funny Enough, You’ll Be Spared Body Searches.”
If he makes a dent in all the “messages” he’s dreaming up, he’d better find a second wood-burning kit, burning the letters with both hands at once. During the final moments of his “telephone babble,” he spoke of signs about “drone-free zones” and another he thinks will be a money-maker: “Trumped Up.”
As to Maude, she may be mad enough to start the bonfire her ownself. During a “moment of mulling,” she thought for several seconds about “wood-burning kits.” Perhaps Mort owned the first such “invention”–the one arriving on the freight train a few cars ahead of common sense….
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: email@example.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: http://www.speakerdoc.com. Columns archived at venturegalleries.com, newbury blog.