Al Batt: Weather — the great conversation inspiration

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

I loved seeing so many new people at bingo this week.

There were many first-timers.

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Yes, I’m just sorry that so many of them had to win.

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce —who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: Why don’t they make potato chip bags that fit the contents?

The cafe chronicles

Each fellow seated at the table of infinite knowledge was perfectly capable of holding up both sides of a conversation. And they were all trying to do that. These guys knew that a good night’s sleep is essential to a good day’s loafing. The right-to-know group was meeting. Their wives called them gossips. These are people who, when you ask them how they are, they will tell you.

One fellow told me that he lived just the other side of nowhere and that old age had come at a bad time for him. He admitted, “I cheat on my diet. At my age, I need something to feel guilty about.”

Cajun thrills and chills

I spoke at some things in Louisiana. They were places meant for my kind and I was having a swell time. The weather was lovely, but some of the locals thought it unseasonably cold. “This weather must be nothing to you,” they said. “You’re from Minnesota. You’re used to it.”

The weather meant everything to me. Weather is all that is needed to start a conversation with a stranger.

Putting the ‘Oh’ in Ohio

I did a book signing in Columbus, Ohio. I got along fine with the day. One woman who bought a book said that she was a basketball coach who often practiced her team against six defenders. That would be a good preparation for life. We all find ourselves outnumbered.

A friend who lives in Ohio is a pilot for one of the major airlines. He flies regularly to places like London and Paris. He told me that the people were the best part of his job and that the people were the worst part of his job.

Life is a matter of getting used to things. When I was a small boy, I was given creamed asparagus on toast in the ancient belief that a cat would eat an onion if it were hungry enough. My mother creamed foods. Most creamed foods were not on a little boy’s bucket list. I whined a bit. My mother told me to eat around it. It was all I had. I’d have had to eat around everything by eating nothing.

I love asparagus today. I love people. I’m outnumbered. Everything and everyone takes some getting used to.

Memories prove that there are always boxes in the attic

It was back in the day when one of the favored jokes in my set was, “How many ears did Davy Crockett have? Three — his left ear, his right ear and his wild front ear.” It was when I was trying to find something that I was good at other than annoying my family.

One of the first things that I was proficient at was putting my hand on the rabbit ears antenna of our old TV and improving the reception. I was considered a healer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t heal myself. I had a cold, but it wasn’t a malady convincing enough to allow my mother to keep me home. I went to school, a Petri dish of illness-causing organisms. I sat in class and suffered. There is no such thing as a common cold. No one with a cold calls it common. I’d perfected a vacant stare that looked as if I had a relentlessly keen interest in what the teacher was saying.

The only fly in the ointment, other than feeling miserable, was that my cold caused me to wheeze occasionally. My wheezing caught the attention of the teacher who thought I was making weird sounds intentionally.

“Do you have something that you would like to share with the rest of the class, Mr. Batt?” asked my teacher.

I replied without thinking, “My cold.”

Nature notes

“Why do I see turkey vultures perched with their wings outspread?” It’s because you’re looking at them. I wish all questions were that easy to answer. This spread-winged stance is called the horaltic pose and it’s believed to dry wings, warm bodies, and bake away bacteria.

Meeting adjourned

“It’s a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.” — Aldous Huxley