Archived Story

Would ‘uffda’ be a naughty word at school?

Published 10:20am Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Column: Tales From Exit 22

The woman told me that her daughter reported that her brother had said “uffda” in school.

The mother was unsure as to why that was a problem.

“He can’t say that there,” said the daughter.

“Why not?” asked the mother.

The daughter sighed and replied, “He goes to a Christian school.”

A retired teacher likely said “uffda” when she received a note from one of her former grade-school students. He had probably taken a seminar that told him to send a note of appreciation to those who had bettered his life. Perhaps he’d had a life-changing event. Anyway, he sent her a note and referenced a school play from long ago. His note ended, “Thanks for letting me be a tree.”

 

Revenge is best served with weeds

The woman said that when she was a girl, the man next door was a cantankerous sort who screamed at any child who set foot upon his meticulous lawn. If a ball rested for a moment in his yard, he kept it forever.

She enacted her revenge upon the man by blowing the seed heads of dandelions in the direction of his perfect lawn.

It’s not the heat, it’s the temperature

I turned off the lights in my office and peered outside into the darkness. I put many lights in my office because I feared the windows would let in a lot of dark. The darkness looked hot. Not long before dusk, the temperature read 91 degrees — without the windchill factor.

The summer has been hot. I’ve been hotter. I fell for the “it’s a dry heat” line and worked in Yuma, Ariz. The temperatures there could best be described as volcanic. They hit numbers unknown to my home thermometer. My saliva evaporated the minute I stepped outdoors. The residents of Yuma were pleasant. They constantly reminded me that it was a dry heat. So is the inside of a microwave oven, but I’m not sure I could live there.

 

Chores

One of my chores as a small boy was to walk through the potato plants growing in the peat ground of Mule Lake and pick off the potato bugs. I grabbed the pests and dropped them into a pail of soapy water. It was meaningful work and I was inspired by my love of potatoes.

One day, a bug crawled from the pail and dropped to the ground. I stepped on the escapee. It was a mashed potato bug.

 

Baseball

A neighboring school had gotten a pitching machine. I’d never used one before, but when the opponents’ coach allowed us to try it; I found my way to the head of the line of batters.

“Put on a helmet,” the coach barked at me.

I did as ordered.

The machine’s first pitch hit me on the rear. I needed a bigger helmet.

 

A ministerial miscalculation

The pastor told me that he had been asked to visit a hospitalized parishioner who was not much of a churchgoer. He didn’t know her well, but was pleased to pay her a visit. He checked at the desk in the hospital, learned the room number, and knocked on an opened door before entering. He introduced himself and the woman seemed pleased to see him. They talked about the things you talk about in such visits — the weather, family, health.

The pastor couldn’t believe how the woman had changed. She didn’t look anything like he remembered. Illness can do that. When it came time for him to leave, he told her that he’d be back and hoped he’d see her in church when she got out of the hospital. The woman thanked him for visiting, but said she wouldn’t likely be attending his church. She never missed church — the Baptist church. The pastor was Lutheran. He had visited the wrong room.

 

Thermostat wars

The latest peace talks ended this way, “Oh, you’re not hot. You just think you’re hot.”

 

A sign of the times

Seen on a small-town business: “Open as many as five days a week from 9 to 5, more or less.”

 

Oh, you know, whatshisname

Names are difficult to remember. Proper nouns escape easily from experienced brains. To make matters worse, when the brain does remember an elusive name, it doesn’t always share it with the tongue. In my case, this is not surprising. When I was new to the world, there were 149 million people in the United States. Now there must be at least 311 million. No wonder I can’t remember everyone’s name.

 

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.