THE IDLE AMERICAN: Zeros in the news

Published 6:27 am Saturday, December 9, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


When my 105-year-old Uncle Mort dropped in the other day, he claimed to be on the verge of “dropping out” of a world he believes is moving too fast. He claims he is weary of much, beginning with all the strings of zeros encountered in the news recently.

“Trouble is, zero clusters–with commas fore and aft–are being lobbed at us two and three at a time,” Mort lamented. “What’s worse, jarring numbers larger than zeros are in front of ‘em, and they’re sucking the air out of the room.”


He rattled on, citing several current news items whose numerical impact left him reeling. Mort claims his “goat has been gotten” by coaches’ compensation that has ballooned into millions of dollars annually. And, he calls out Texas A&M University to be “front and center.”

Referencing the arrival of Jimbo Fisher from Florida State University with a contract that could span 10 years and some $75,000,000, Mort thought the figure seemed familiar. Turns out, it is almost the same outlay as the one Texas A&M recently expended to purchase Texas Wesleyan University’s up-and-running law school.

He’s aware that a “good ol’ boy” name of “Jimbo” may carry the coach for a few games. The maximum outlay projected for Jimbo, however, hangs on his winning a national football championship. Should he fail to win one as soon as the “powers that be” deem acceptable, he will ride off down the trail of former coaches whose names have lost their luster. When that inevitable trail ride begins, the coach will be gone. But, the Aggies will still have their law school.

In these days, it is both quaint and refreshing to learn little hidden gems about smaller numbers–specifically, one dozen.

I cite the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “42 club” that has met regularly for almost six decades. The game of “42” was extremely popular back then, and the club began with half-a-dozen couples who met for monthly dinners and “42” in members’ homes, except for July, August and December.

When members have died or moved away, other old-timers have been invited to join.

In recent years, they’ve met at a restaurant before going to someone’s home for dessert and games, always on Friday nights.

Who says retirees aren’t busy? They’ve reached a place where it’s difficult to get everybody together on Fridays. There was talk of disbanding, and they met on a recent Tuesday night to discuss that very topic. All members showed up that evening, and the 100% attendance became the topic of conversation. Eureka, now they are forging on, meeting monthly on Tuesdays. Leaving Fridays free, the “42-ers” scheduling woes seem to be on the wane.

Charles and Jean Tidwell are currently longest-tenured members. They split time between their home in Fort Worth and a mountain home in New Mexico. Several years ago, she mentioned to a mountain neighbor that her “42” club soon would visit from Fort Worth. “Where in the world will you put up 42 people?” the neighbor questioned.

Two warm/fuzzy vignettes about animals are in the news. At the Houston zoo, a gorilla departed her digs to visit hogs in an adjacent “hogsty.” (Or is it “pigsty?”) Whatever, no one was hurt; gorillas are vegetarians. Still, piglets nearby may have been difficult to convince that gorillas never have a yen for pork as well.

In Brooklyn, a raccoon gained access to a liquor warehouse, draining the contents of a bottle of booze. Predictably, it became as drunk as a skunk. It was treated medically and released, but NOT back into the liquor warehouse.

Finally, a well-oiled barroom patron’s slurred words failed to convince the bartender of his professed sobriety. “Misten, lister,” he began. “I’ve only had tee martoonis, and I’m not malf as huch under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle may peep. But the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.”


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.