THE IDLE AMERICAN: Words fail in New Orleans

Published 7:35 am Saturday, January 27, 2018

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

  “Words failed us”–accompanied by a smiley face–provided a touch of grim humor on the front door of a bookstore when its owner declared Chapter XI bankruptcy.

Front-page headline writers for the New Orleans Times-Picayune reacted similarly following the Saints’ shocking last- second loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the National Football League play-offs.

The words–printed in bold face–were huge, previously believed to be the font size held in reserve for The Second Coming. In all caps, the three words were identical, gobbling up most of the space above the fold: EXPLETIVE. EXPLETIVE. EXPLETIVE.  (The periods after each word seemed reason enough for readers to stomp their feet three times in a country where our President usually tells us EXACTLY how he feels, and calls expletives by name.)

It’s why the game is played, joked Minnesota Viking fans, proving yet again that the elevation of the “highest of highs” can sometimes be followed by the same distance downward to the “lowest of lows.” (A week later, Viking faithful felt the sting of such a “low” when the Philadelphia Eagles administered a 38-7 whipping, ending Minneapolis’ dream to become the first NFL team to host a Super Bowl.)

New Orleans fans found their loss tough to swallow. They tried, though, with beverage bars buoyed by beer buyers in “beyond brisk” fashion. Suds were swallowed joyously, albeit diluted by tears.

Social media resounded with post-game goings on, some far from the field of play. In New Orleans, two men were “high fiving” in a beverage joint 10 seconds before game’s end, when it appeared that the Saints were marching toward the National Football Conference championship and ultimately  to Super Bowl LII. When the referee decreed that all was in order and signaled “touchdown” on the game’s final play, the two guys heaved a 65-inch television over the balcony. (It wasn’t mentioned whether there was a final scream from the TV, protesting, “THE FAULT IS NOT WITH YOUR SET.”)

It has been just a few months short of 50 years since NBC egged up its face with the decision to leave the New York Jets/Oakland Raiders football telecast to begin showing a movie, Heidi, at the scheduled time.

NBC caught “hail, Columbia” for its decision, and there hasn’t been a repeat of such a bonehead error.

Now, with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles set to “duke it out” in the Super Bowl this year, most backers of Texas’ teams–the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans–have limited interest in the outcome. In fact, they might choose a movie–almost any movie–instead of watching the game.

 ‘Tis the season to share, yet again, my all-time favorite Super Bowl joke. I first heard it from a smiling Texas Congressman named Charlie Stenholm, who served back in the day when elected figures could return from D. C. smiling. (And, when constituents smiled back at ‘em.)

He said the story quickly reached most–if not all–of the many “nooks and crannies” in the Capitol.

It was a long, long time ago, of course, when the Dallas Cowboys last played in the Super Bowl. If your memory stretches back that far, you may also remember Absorbine, Sr., and/or when the surgeon general was a surgeon lieutenant.

In one town, the youth minister extended a blanket invitation for all youngsters to attend his church’s Super Bowl party. He decorated the assembly hall elaborately, piling mountains of food on tables. As a record number of youngsters gathered, however, he was afraid there’d be a shortage of food.

So, he scrawled a sign for the sandwich table:  “Please take just two sandwiches,” it read. “Remember, God is watching you.”

A 12-year-old boy noticed the sign. He whipped out a sign of his own for the cookie table: “Take all the cookies you want,” it suggested. “God is watching the sandwiches.”


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.