Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

As might be expected, my Uncle Mort thought he had heard every birthday-related joke in the book. At his 107th party a few weeks ago, he got a real birthday surprise.


Dr. Don Newbury

They rolled out three large gifts. When he tore away the wrapping on the first one, there was a birthday cake adorned by 36 candles. He laughed, ready to joke that maybe this was the 71st anniversary of his 36th birthday.

He stopped short, however, eyeing the frosted lettering under the candles. It read, “Continued on next cake.”

Sure enough, unwrapping of the second package revealed yet another cake. It had the same number of candles, with instructions to open the third package.

The cake therein had 35 candles, with the terse affirmation: “Concluded on this cake.”

Mort figured that Aunt Maude was privy to the surprise, and may have footed the bill for the three cakes.

Mort has ramped up his commitment to exercise. Until now, he claimed to get most exercise serving as a pallbearer for his friends who exercise.

Oh, he’s gained a couple of pounds, but whispers at the party about his “pudginess” stung.

His soaking-wet weight is probably no more than 125 pounds, and–upon first glance at his wiry frame–one might think about all he could do effectively would be serving as a trellis for varicose veins.

He has taken up yoga, and laughs about the great work-out he experienced upon his initial gym arrival.

“I pushed, pulled, squirmed, yanked, reached, squeezed, tucked and stretched,” he moaned. “It was a sweaty 30 minutes, and by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.”


Uncle Mort

Mort always looks for the bright side, and found one even during a brief connection with yoga. He’s dead sure that he’s allergic to the elastic in his leotards.

“I sneezed15 consecutive times in a three-minute period, and sweat poured,” he said. “Then, it dawned on me that such serious sneezing as this burns calories.”

He’s considering promotion for a health package, allowing that “sneeze barrages count as “upper body exercise,” with a secondary benefit linked to breathing techniques.

He’s trying to figure out how to market the new exercise plan, but admitted that anyone can do it by just taking a few sniffs of their own elastic strips, followed by concentration on sneezing. “Yoga enthusiasts should be able to sneeze at will, and maybe a far-out effort such as this might get folks’ minds off vaping,” he maintains.

Aunt Maude, Mort’s wife of 87 years, abides as always, “going with the flow.” She’s far from sure that Mort’s whiffs of elastic are “sneeze-induced,” but thinks this “what if” is harmless, and might keep him from “trailing off” into something worse.

“I think it could just as easily be food color, since his multiple sneezes have occurred after ingesting birthday cake. Who can say?” Maude added.

She believes his “sneeze attack” might be more credible if charged to food color. Maude chooses, though, to “let it be,” like the wisdom of permitting dogs in their slumber to continue sawing logs.

She does her part in reining him in–a chore she’s readily accepted since saying, “I do.” Truth to tell, someone has to, and who better than his bride?

She heard him regaling players at the domino table. Mort was trying to convince them that in his youth, he “might near made it” in TV and movie careers. Maude provided the “deflation needle,” with clarification. “Wait a minute, Mort.” They made it clear that you have a face for radio and a voice for silent movies.”

When guests started to leave, many of them “cracked wise.” One of ‘em said he hopes Mort has as many more birthdays as he wants. Mort had planned to make closing remarks, but a sneezing fit intervened. He counted it as exercise.

Dr. Newbury is a former educator who “commits speeches” round about. Comments or inquiries Ph.: 817-447-3872. Web: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury.



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