Al Batt: A new set of problems to solve

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I get a kick out of horoscopes. The one today says that my lucky smell is a wet dog and my lucky number is 1973.8. What sign were you born under?

A stop sign.

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My mother didn’t make it to the hospital.

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: If men were half as smart as we think we are, we’d be twice as smart as we are. All the best skipping stones must be in the middle of the lake by now. If you have two of anything, you have a collection. You can tell the age of a bathtub by counting the rings.

The cafe chronicles

“Good morning.”

“Not necessarily.”

They had settled all the world’s problems the day before. Then they read the newspaper. Now they were back with a new set of problems to solve.

The waitress pointed at a plate of food, saying, “That’s the special.”

“What is it?” asked a seasoned Loafer.

“No one knows,” said the waitress. “That’s what makes it special.”

Old Man McGinty

He couldn’t text and drive even if he wanted to. I asked Old Man McGinty, the youngest Old Man McGinty ever, what his secret was to a long life.

He smiled, although it might have been a snarl or gas, before replying, “Breathing.”

A short story

I lived in a condemned building. Most buildings should be called builts. Not this one. A sign on the door declared it unfit for human habitation. That didn’t preclude me from living there. I wasn’t human. I was a college student. I didn’t know that Minnesota had cockroaches until I moved into that efficiency apartment. We shared a restroom with another apartment and the kitchen with two others. There are four kinds of cockroaches that could infest homes here — German cockroach, brown-banded cockroach, American cockroach, and Oriental cockroach. The cockroaches always left our refrigerator door open.


I was speaking at the Danebod Folk School in Tyler. Danebod is a Danish word meaning “one who mends or saves the Danes.” The Danebod offers programs that preserve, teach and celebrate Danish-American culture. As I made my way to the church, I ran into a friend. I hadn’t expected to see her in Tyler. She hadn’t expected to see me either as she asked, “What are you doing here?”

I was stumped for an answer because nobody expects the Danish Inquisition.

Happy anniversary

It had been an odd day. They all are. Two people said that I looked like James Taylor. I’m fine with that. I like his music. They could have told me that I looked like Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States. He’s been dead for 166 years.

I bumped into Sonja Honstad of Freeborn as we exited a grocery store. Sonja was pushing a cart when she asked, “How can you come out of a grocery store without buying anything?”

A good question. I wanted to say that it was because I didn’t need anything other than my wife, but I had needed one other thing and the store didn’t have it.

I did find what I needed at the hardware store. At the checkout, I was asked if I was interested in a store special, an electric sander for only $20. I considered it. Our anniversary was coming up on September 6. I decided to get my wife a wet vac instead. What a guy I am.

“Me Tarzan, you Jane,” was never said by John Clayton (Viscount Greystoke) in any of the Tarzan novels or in my marriage. When I was about to get hitched, they said (Who were they?) that I should spend three months of my income on a ring for my future wife. It sounded good, but I didn’t think $30 would buy much of a ring. I’m right-handed. I feel sorry for my left arm. It gets all the shots. Its thumb gets hit by the hammer wielded by my right hand. I feel sorry for it, but my right hand is envious. You see, a finger on my left hand wears my wedding ring.

Nature notes

“What kind of birds nest in road ditches?” The DNR says 40 kinds of animals do, including pheasants, mallards, gray partridges and rabbits. Red-winged blackbirds nest in ditches when plants suiting their needs are available. Other songbirds nest there, but ditches are primarily pheasant habitat.