Over a Barrel

Published 10:35 am Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Too much is made of “bucket lists,” unless we follow through. Failure to keep tabs renders them no more valuable than scribbles on makeshift “to do” lists likely to be misplaced.

Of more value are carefully-prepared “barrel lists.” Entries should include topics long at the root of ever-deepening, furrowed brows.

Let’s start with unsolicited telephone calls. “Canned” calls–alleged to be from the FBI, IRS or several other organizations whose initials might earlier have twisted our innards–now are to be ignored. I returned an “IRS call” the other day–just for fun–asking to be removed from the call list. The answerer called me an ugly name before abruptly ending the call.

In like manner, I ignore calls indicating “I’ve been chosen” to receive–whatever. I trust you to be of like mind. Calls may offer free cruises, choices of numerous awards, lifetime subscriptions to unheard of magazines, or gifts of unending monthly checks for “humpteen” thousand dollars. Such “offers” are added quickly to my barrel list.

I’ll worry not one second about declining all offers, and even less about ending such calls.

When merchandise is offered at a fraction of suggested retail price, I may practice this punchline: “When they released me recently after many years in prison for credit card abuse, they said I’d never be able to use one again. And then you call, willing to take a chance on me.”

My barrel list will no longer be permitted to be worrisome. This frees time for rediscovery of civility, propriety, good will toward men (and women) and spiritual topics.

I’ll strive to use words and phrases with meanings originally intended. For example, consider “hanging out.” The younger set uses this as a “catch-all” term, usually meaning “passing the time, chilling or nothing much.”

During my youth, it was a washday term. Unless it looked like rain, my mother–after “putting out a washing”–headed to the clothes line to “hang out” clothes. Nosy neighbors could have easily determine the type, color, and yes, size, of underwear–if we’d had any close by neighbors. (As an aside, a longtime popular expression to describe folks whose elevators didn’t go to the top claimed they didn’t know “whether to wash or hang out.”)

Long before that, when wrongdoers paid for their misdeeds at the end of ropes, justice was administered outdoors–if weather permitted “hanging out.” But, why go there?

Anyways, “hanging out” now seems to have broad and frequent application.

En route to church on the first Sunday of National Football League play, I heard a sports radio talk show host extend an invitation that would have raised hackles before our “anything goes” culture pinned us to the wall. Time was, we would have picketed the radio station to register wrath for poorly-timed, ill-advised invitations.

The sports guy was lathered exceedingly, foaming at the prospect of the NFL season kick-off.

At steadier and more studied moments, surely he would have worded his invitation differently.

Whatever, here’s what he asked: “Why don’t you skip church today, and hang out with us here at the station?”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a media person flat out suggest our “skipping church.”

For whatever reasons church-go’ers might choose to skip, it’s likely they’d find better things to do than listen to some guy blather for hours about the Dallas Cowboys. Or whether owner Jerry Jones’ new helicopter was purchased or leased.

My wife, with interest in sports tepid at best, overheard praises for the Cowboys’ rookie QB, Dak Prescott. She cast a positive vote for “Dak to the Future.” I prefer her assessment: “Dak-A-Doozy.”


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.