Al Batt: BRB is why the LOL phrase was created

Published 7:38 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt


I watched a honey bee forage on the flowers of Dutch clover.

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The bee, having filled the pollen baskets on its hind legs, flew off with a buzz.

I’m sure the bee told the flower, “Be right back.”

We all say it. There is even an acronym, BRB, used in digital communication. BRB for be right back.

I recall being hospitalized. I was over-accessorized with a varied adornment of hoses, tubes and wires that were hooked up to monitors and CIA headquarters. Something beeped and blinked. A nurse rushed in, doused the blink and stifled the beep. She looked at levels and numbers. “Oh,” she said.

My ears perked up. Not as much as they would have had she said, “Oh, crap!” but they perked up.

She looked at me; I was a pitiful specimen in a private room and a semi-private gown. Her concerned look was probably frozen on her face because of her job. Her mother surely (or Shirley) told her young, pre-nurse daughter, “If you keep making that face, it will stay that way.”

Then the nurse said to me, “Be right back.”

I waited. I had nothing else to do. I tried to sleep, but there was little point. She’d be right back.

She wasn’t right back. More important things had come up. She came back eventually, but she should have substituted “I’ll be back” for “Be right back.”

If we say we’re going to be right back, we should be right back.

We shouldn’t put off most things. Some people advise we shouldn’t put off anything. That’s not always good counsel.     

Some things could be put off. A friend was turning 50. He’d yearned for a motorcycle for as long as he knew what one was, but he was tighter than a boa constrictor in love. Then he came across the obituary of his old high-school classmate, Clarence. He took that as a sign that his life was passing much too quickly and he purchased a Harley for a goodly sum. Days later, another classmate called. “Sad thing, wasn’t it?” he said. “Clarence being killed in a motorcycle accident. He’d just bought that bike.”

Some things shouldn’t be put off. My mother told the story of a family member who enjoyed drinking her coffee at the kitchen table while peering out the window. She paid particular attention to the woman next door as she hung her washing on the clothesline. It was something the woman did constantly because she had a flock of kids. She didn’t care for the woman’s husband as he looked as if he repossessed cars for a living and had once parked his pickup in her pine tree. So she concentrated on the woman and her laundry.

“Her wash isn’t very clean,” she told my mother. “She either doesn’t know how to wash clothes or she needs a better laundry detergent.”

My mother offered an excuse, “Maybe she just has too much laundry to do.”

One day, she told my mother that she was surprised to see a clean wash on the line. She wondered aloud what had brought about such a dramatic improvement.

My mother knew and replied, “Your daughters wanted to surprise you, so they washed your windows while you were at card club.”

Members of a certain church known for knocking on doors knocked on mine. I admire their zeal, as most of us would find that a daunting task. I had company and used them as a way to politely dismiss the proselytizers. Then I felt remorse. After all, they claimed to be concerned for my soul. I said that if they wanted to wait in their car, I’d get right back to them.

A few hours later, after my company had long left, I glanced outside and saw the door-knocking folks sitting in their car. I’d forgotten about them. I hadn’t gotten right back to them. It’s like my mother always said, “What’s wrong with you?” By the time I’d put on my dumbest of guy’s face and stepped outside, they had reached the end of my drive. They wouldn’t be right back.

I parked behind a minivan at a softball game. It looked like most minivans. It was muted in color and carried a soccer ball decal. It had other decals portraying the family lineup — cartoonish images of a mommy, boy, girl, dog and cat. The daddy decal had been scraped off the minivan.

He wouldn’t be right back.

I will.

Unless I get distracted.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.