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Al Batt: Enjoying a history of burgers and not knowing

Echoes from the Loafers’Club Meeting

What has four legs, a tail and meows?

A cat?

Oh, you’ve heard it before?

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I’m not as proud as I should be of being a part of the big snow of Oct. 20. It was too early to even think about snow. We’re suffering from early-onset winter. We all get social media goofiness purported to be true forwarded to us from well-intended friends and family. That causes me to consider The Amazing Randi. Randi discredited the self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller, who touted paranormal powers manifested in an ability to bend spoons. Not a skill welcomed at a local cafe. Randi offered a $1 million reward to anyone who could prove they had paranormal powers. Neither Geller nor anyone else collected. I wonder if Geller could bend a snow shovel?

The cafe chronicles

Back when I could still spit in the palm of my hand before an official handshake, a cafe owner told me there were two things he never washed. One was his grill. I didn’t ask what the other was. His hamburgers were the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere and my favorite grease delivery system. He told me his secret was the grill. When I ate a burger there, I was eating the history of burgers.

The clinic chronicles 

I emerged from my secret lair long enough to visit a big clinic for my six-month checkup. They run me up on a hoist to rotate my tires and change my oil. It was a Monday morning when I answered questions while they took my temperature (they gave it back) just to be allowed entrance. That’s the password of the COVID-19 times. I grabbed an orange sticker reading “Monday.” Being a big dummy, I slapped it on my shirt — upside down. I believe my shirt was right-side-up, but I’m uncertain. It’s OK to look like an idiot when you are an idiot. The blood lab’s giant waiting room was so crammed full of ailing people that many patients stood in the hallway. At that moment, we directed all acrimony at cancer. Many of those battling cancer looked as if their lives needed a backspace key. I wished I had the power to give them one. Without it, they chewed their fingernails to their wristwatches as they waited to talk to doctors with more titles than HBO. As I hustled from one appointment to another, my shoes squeaked. I’m not sure why. They weren’t moist. Maybe the floor had just been waxed? Folks might have thought my old shoes were new. I walked for a week and a day. I typically encounter patients I know there, but I’ve learned I’m not good at recognizing people wearing masks. I did recognize a friend who said, “I don’t know who anybody is anymore.” And we both smiled, I think.

The mailbag

John Beal of Medford wrote, “Al, You mentioned skunk in your ‘things to note in nature.’Reminds me of a story about my Uncle Clarence in Milan, MN. He heated his home with wood. After throwing wood into the basement he forgot to put the window back in. He ended up with a skunk in his basement. A neighbor told him, ‘No problem, just put a plank down to him and he will crawl back out.’The next morning he went to check and now he had two skunks in his basement. I do not recall him saying how he got rid of them.”

Nature notes

A caller told me that raccoons were running wild. No surprise there. They are wild. Even mice run wild. Squirrels rustling in dead leaves can sound like buffalo, proving our imaginations can run wild, too.

State Farm Insurance produces an annual report on car crashes involving animals. From July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 there were an estimated 1.5 million deer claims and 1.9 million animal-collision claims industry wide. U.S. drivers have a 1 in 116 chance of hitting an animal. West Virginia (with chances of such a collision at 1 in 37), Montana (1 in 47), Pennsylvania (1 in 51), South Dakota and Michigan are the riskiest states. Wisconsin was No. 6 (1 in 57), Iowa No. 7 (1 in 58) and Minnesota No. 9 (1 in 64). Chances increase during October, November and December, the mating season for deer. You’re least likely to hit an animal in Hawaii (1 in 649), Nevada and California.

Meeting adjourned

Your true calling might be in calling someone and saying kind things.