How’s That Again?

Published 5:00 pm Friday, August 25, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

It hit with the impact of “breaking news”–the kind that smacks us in the face on the front end of most newscasts. I felt faint–and my cell phone “clammy”–as my Uncle Mort’s words seared my brain.

“I’m going to be okay, nephew,” he said. “But Maude had to take me to the emergency clinic today, right after I rolled a joint.”

Rolled a joint? My 105-year-old uncle? No way.

Momentarily speechless and feebly fumbling for a fitting response, I was grateful that Mort’s unending word stream gushed on.

“I was working on my bucket list, never dreaming it would result in an ER visit. But, that wasn’t the worst part,” he rambled. “I didn’t expect the doctor to give me an ‘in-your-face’ lecture.”

Mort, on his first visit to a doctor this century, sneaked a peak at the notation on his medical record, warning “the old coot that if he doesn’t stay off skateboards, he’s likely to roll his other ankle.”

Misunderstandings occur regularly, right? They do in my family, as well as others that will remain nameless. Except for one that warrants sharing. Our 10-year-old grandson Kedren had one of those “almost nearly but not quite hardly” situations.

His Sunday school teacher posed a Bible trivia question. “An Old Testament prophet’s wife had a boy’s name. Who was Hosea’s wife?” Like a cougar poised to pounce, Kedren shouted out, “Goober!” Close, but no cigar. Not even a candy cigarette, but he did get the first two letters right. “No, it’s ‘Gomer’,” the teacher said. Kedren claimed he “always gets Andy Griffith characters mixed up.”

If the question ever comes up again, he might try remembering “GOMER” as a medical acronym–“Get Out of My Emergency Room.”

Across the pond, numerous misunderstandings may abound as Brits and visitors seek to learn the precise time. Since 1859, they’ve depended heavily on the “gongs” of Big Ben in the House of Parliament. Alas, the world-renowned timepiece must be stilled for repairs until 2020.

What to do? If time-seekers truly want to know, they need only dial 817-844-6611. That’s the phone number in Fort Worth, TX, where callers have been able to learn both the time and temperature since 1951.

Chase Bank formerly sponsored the service, but “opted out” recently. Haltom’s Jewelers, a 125-year-old Fort Worth firm, is taking it over. The tab is $400 monthly, but 23,000 calls were received during the first four days as a Haltom’s holding, and calls are still pouring in by the thousands daily. An AT&T spokesperson reminds that when one is in another country, one must first dial “+1” and then numbers shown in the previous paragraph. This presumes, of course, that one really wants to know the time in Cowtown and/or the rest of the Central Time Zone.

The Big Ben reference reminds of a time when tourist visitation to the Tower of London was waning. Meanwhile, numbers were climbing at Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The Minister of Tourism in England was flabbergasted when the Queen expressed her dismay that Ben Ben was losing its appeal.

Wait! They decided to jack up one side of the clock tower. Sure enough, tourists returned in great numbers. Why? Because visitors then not only had the inclination, they also had the time. (For the idle curious, Pisa was begun in the 12th century, with completion more than a century later. It is 185 feet tall, but the “leaning” side is two feet shorter. It wasn’t called “leaning” until recent centuries.)

Back when, it seemed important to know “what time it was,” even if we weren’t taking medicine and/or had no place to go. “What time is it?” was our plea when in the company of folks who had timepieces.

Youngsters responded with an “old joke” answer. “Time all fools were dead. Ain’t you feeling sick?”

End of the lines; everybody off.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: Don Newbury.