Al Batt: Whistling out of habit

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

There are no leaves on your lawn.

I bought a leaf blower.

But your roof has leaves a foot deep on it.

They go there to hide from me.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I suffered a flat tire in church. No car was involved. A flat tire is a slang term for the result of someone stepping on my heel so that my shoe came loose. It happened during a rush to the food at a potluck. I love potlucks—people and good food. That’s euphoria with beans. I said grace at a table weighed down like an aircraft carrier. Bless the food and the hands that prepared it. I wished all good things for everyone and Rice Krispies bars for me. “Did you get enough to eat?” asked a hostess. That’s church lady talk for, “You’ve had enough to eat.”

School daze

Red Schoendienst was a great second baseman for the Cardinals, Braves and Giants. I spelled Schoendienst correctly (once) in grade school. It wasn’t during a spelling bee. My teacher wasn’t impressed.

Whistling past the graveyard

I whistled past a graveyard as I walked around a small town. It was an echo from the past. Was it a graveyard or a cemetery? Graveyards and cemeteries are both places we bury our dead. Historical differences existed between churchyards and cemeteries with the primary difference being graveyards were traditionally run by a church and located on the churchyard or the grounds of a church. Cemeteries were generally not associated with any church but run by a board and located apart from any church. Today, the difference between graveyards and cemeteries is non-existent, having been erased by common usage. I whistled past a graveyard. Into the 1800s, cemeteries were often built on the edge of a town. Some people believed the spirits of the dead came out at dusk to haunt anyone who passed by. To avoid these ghostly encounters, travelers made loud noises like whistling as they walked past the graveyard. Whistling past a graveyard is the title of a book and a song, and has come to mean being unconcerned or optimistic in a situation that doesn’t warrant it. To conceal one’s apprehension behind a calm demeanor. I whistled out of habit. I whistled past many graveyards when I was a lad. This time, I was practicing for Halloween.

My stomach growls in fond memory

Years ago, the wonderful Village Inn named a meal the Al Batt Platter. It should have been bologna with mustard on graham crackers, but it wasn’t. Sadly, that lovely restaurant closed after the owner’s retirement a few years ago. More’s the pity.

I’ve learned

If I can’t fix something with duct tape, I’m not using enough duct tape.

Some days, life is an accordion and I’m wearing boxing gloves.

The man who blows his horn the loudest is in the thickest fog.

If you say, “A penny for your thoughts” to most people, they will give you their two cents’ worth.

I don’t know what “normal” means.

Watching Ben Cartwright on an old “Bonanza” TV show makes me feel for Lorne.

In local news

Bait shop shows its true crawlers.

Listen to the opera while getting a haircut at the Barbershopera.

$1.50 store opens for those people who enjoy the nicer things.

Soap thieves make a clean getaway.

Head lice outbreak has doctors scratching their heads.

Crematorium employee named top urner.

Disa Pier at St. Olaf Lake goes missing.

Hay fever tournament nears its sneezing finale.

Public restroom proposed. “Build it and they will go,” said a proponent.

Nature notes

Autumn colors popped and fell. Unlike Maxwell House coffee, whose slogan is “Good to the last drop,” a leaf is good after the last drop. The leaves are beautiful on the ground unless you detest raking them.

I saw a road-killed muskrat. The muskrat is commonly known as Ondatra zibethicus and rightly so. Captain & Tennille sang “Muskrat, muskrat. Candlelight. Doing the town. And doing it right. In the evening, it’s pretty pleasing. Muskrat Suzie, Muskrat Sam. Do the jitterbug at a Muskrat Land. And they shimmy, Sam is so skinny.” I have nothing to add to that.

My feeders were so busy, I expected to hear “Yackety Sax,” the song played during the chase scenes on “The Benny Hill Show.” White-throated sparrows scratched the ground fiercely. I whistled on their behalf. Why not? As Monty Python’s Eric Idle sang, “When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle.”

Meeting adjourned

“Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.” — Roy Bennett.