Al Batt: Stuck in the maple syrup of life

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

What’s up?

I’m trying to remember what day this is.

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That sounds exciting.

It is when I get it right.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. My wife wanted to go out to eat for her birthday. It was cold, windy and it was snowing, but we sat on the front steps and ate. We talked of family. My son Brian acquired the nickname Ding from his friends early in life. Ding Batt. Dingbat was the term Archie Bunker used to refer to his long-suffering, loving wife Edith on the TV series “All in the Family.” Dingbat means a silly or empty-headed person. We are all silly, but my son isn’t any more empty-headed than the rest of us men. It’s a chronic human condition.

An aptronym or aptonym is a name that matches the occupation or character of its owner, often humorously or ironically. Herb Caen, the late San Francisco columnist, called it a namephreak. Nominative determinism is the hypothesis that people gravitate towards areas of work fitting their names. Psychologist Carl Jung suggested the idea. I thought Brian might become a doorbell repairman or an ice cream truck driver, but he didn’t.

Dialog from

a lasting marriage

What’s Kyle’s name?


Oh, yeah. Thanks.

The cafe chronicles

“Don’t put your elbows on the table,” is something every mother learned to say in mom school. It wasn’t polite and it showed as the Neanderthals we were. I recall being a young man who stopped at a greasy spoon. I entered smirk first. The cafe offered good food and had both flies and sticky flypaper ribbons. I sat down, ordered the breakfast special and put my elbows on the counter. I was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt. It wasn’t the best shirt, but it was my good shirt. I figured the “don’t put your elbows on the table” rule didn’t apply to counters. I was wrong. My elbows became stuck to that sweet epoxy made from escaped maple syrup.

Porky Pig was

no weathervane

I wonder what happened to our old weathervane? We had several, but the one I remember most clearly involved the likeness of a hog and was perched on a high point of the barn. A free-spinning directional pointer was wider on the back end of the arrow and narrower toward the arrow’s head, allowing it to point into the wind. A change in the wind meant a change in the weather. South winds brought warm temperatures, north winds ushered in the cold, and wind changes from west to east brought storms. In the ninth century A.D., the Pope decreed that the rooster be used as a weathervane on church domes or steeples. We used a pig because it was good with directions.

Bad jokes department

You’re more likely to die on your way to buy a lottery ticket than you are to win a lottery.

Do you know what always catches my eye? Short people with umbrellas.

I used to crastinate. Then I went pro.

Vegetable soup is nothing more than a hot, wet salad.

People think I’m self-centered, but enough about them.

What did the janitor say when he jumped out of the closet? Supplies!

Would you donate to a charity named CAW CAW CAW CAW if it’s four good caws?

“You ran that red light!” exclaimed the passenger. “Don’t worry, my brother does it all the time,” said the driver. They continued through the city and drove through another stoplight. “You ran another stoplight! You’re going to get us killed!” screamed the nervous passenger. “Don’t worry, my brother does it all the time,” repeated the driver. Moments later, they approached a green light and the car stopped. “Why are you stopping?” asked the anxious passenger. The driver replied, “Because my brother might be coming.”

Things to notice

while walking

uphill everywhere

Starling bills are dark in winter but turn yellow as the breeding season approaches. They are changing now. House finches singing their exuberant, tumbling song. Cardinals whistling “what-cheer” in honor of a town in Iowa. Wild turkeys gobbling. Red-tailed hawks perching close to one another is a sign of Valentine’s Day.

Skunk cologne in the air. Bright scarlet stems of red osier

dogwood (the red veins of spring). Snow fleas atop the melting snow around the base of trees or foundations of buildings on sunny days. Snow fleas look like spilled pepper.

“If February gives much snow, a fine summer it doth foreshow.” — proverb

Meeting adjourned

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.” — George Saunders