The Idle American: Football and Needle-Threading…


My aged Uncle Mort is bristling with disgust about the Dallas Cowboys. He cut his frustrations loose after the National Football League teams were trimmed to four, thus excluding Dallas.

“If I have ulcers, they’re bleeding badly, but Maude thinks that whether or not I have ulcers, I’m doubtless a carrier,” he jokes.

Anyways, as he watched the play-off games, he kept hearing the announcers referring to the quarterbacks “threading the eye of a needle” with their passes….

Each time the goldy-throats gushed about needle-threading, my 108-year-old kin said he thought of Dallas’ Dak Prescott, who some think should be included among the great NFL quarterbacks. Mort thinks Dak probably falls into the “barely fair” category, remembering precious few passes this season worthy of needle-threading comparisons.

He stops short of joining leather lungs who claim that Dak “couldn’t hit a bull’s behind with a bass fiddle” or “a softball with an ironing board.” Mort is amused by a like-minded neighbor who “doesn’t believe Dak could throw a cantaloupe through a quilting frame.”

Mort thinks the Cowboys’ annual chant should be, “Wait’ll next century,” since this may be one of those centuries when everything goes wrong….

Do you grow weary of hearing “canned voices” thanking us for calling, expressing delight that we’ve called and assuring us that calls will be answered in the order received? They usually reference their agents who are “busy assisting other customers.” Finally, we are asked to “listen carefully, since menu options may have changed.”

Apple--a company providing answers to almost every conceivable question on its website--has added a feature for us folks who’d rather speak to live persons.

Oh, it’s likely that we’ll first hear recorded music, often the kind played in elevators. Apple, however, provides options. Callers may choose from classical, jazz or popular music. Most importantly, there’s a fourth option: silence. It gets my vote. Mort says he uses the waiting time to consider state and national office seekers whose names he doesn’t recognize. He thinks the time has come to give them a try. Mort says that Americans who screamed during the Revolutionary War that “taxation without representation is tyranny” would be mortified now to see what it’s like with representation….

In the early days of Radio Shack, folks plumb worn out from “telephone holding” were offered a device I haven’t thought about in decades. It was battery powered, and when callers were put “on hold,” they placed their phones on the amplifying device. When there was a live response, it could be heard all over the room. Phones were lifted, and conversations began.

I used the cigar-box sized device regularly. Sometimes I’d carry on with my work for a half-hour or more before agents were finished assisting other customers.

If there is such a device available now, I’d like to know about it. Of course, it would need to be designed differently to accommodate smart phones….

While on technology, I want to provide a “thumbs up” for our new mattress. I no longer need to guess about the quality of my night’s sleep.

I guess it should be called a “smart mattress,” because when I wish to know how well I slumber, I simply press a button on my “smart phone.” An app records details of my sleep quality. Plus, it offers numbered preciseness beyond my wildest dreams.

Nightmares might ensue, though, if the app goes haywire or the Internet goes off. I doubt if the mattress would be so smart then, leaving me “up the creek without a paddle.”….

Speaking of sleep, I asked Brenda if--in her wildest dreams--she ever expected to have a husband like me.

Unhesitating, she answered, “You weren’t in my wildest dreams.”

Then there’s my favorite uncle’s nightly reference to Morpheus, a Greek god. He was the god of sleep and dreams. G’night, Uncle Mort. Sleep well….

Dr. Newbury, a longtime university president, continues to write weekly, as well as speak publicly throughout Texas. Contact: 817-447-3872. Email: Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.