A Spoonful of Sugar
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
The clever and ever-so-simple message Julie Andrews conveyed in Mary Poppins—a classic if there ever was one–provided encouragement that thrilled a nation.
We often chose to believe the obvious–that “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”–but it would have taken sugar fields much bigger than the “old cotton fields back home” to sweeten Super Bowl LV. It was–tied up and “ribboned”–a dud. The game and its always-ballyhooed TV commercials were “bad medicine” for the tens of millions of us who didn’t care who won, but had hoped for a thrilling game and memorable commercials.
If it had been a baseball game, it would be remembered for strikeouts and “muffed” ground balls. Yep, unless one happens to live in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, it would take trainloads of sugar to swallow much of what we saw on the “toob.” You could trust that your snacks would be good; most else wasn’t.
Kansas City–the beef megacenter–was brought to its knees by a GOAT. That’s what they call the Buccaneers’ 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, who did everything short of head-butting the Chiefs into submission.
Brady–all but granted “sainthood” by analyst Tony Romo–may well be the GOAT, now that I know what it stands for. It means “Greatest Of All Time,” a title few can argue if Brady’s exploits are restricted to the football field. Even then, the title should be restricted to games played with footballs precisely inflated.
There was, though, one shining light ‘mongst the brown-outs of generally forgettable ads. Bruce Springsteen was brilliant in his piece about common ground.
That Jeep ad, however, also provides a tiny specific reference Chiefs’ fans can point to with pride.
It opens with the picture of a “little chapel in Kansas.” (Reckon how many Kansans are thrilled that KC–the region’s largest city–is located mostly in Missouri?) Whatever, when the Bucs scored their third touchdown with mere seconds remaining in the first half, the collective “whoosh” heard throughout the land signaled that the heated battle sports scribes predicted was gone with the wind.
That’s when I decided to go for a drive, hoping that nature’s sights and sounds would help me salvage a day from which I expected more.
I headed to East Texas, where I knew that Uncle Mort, the 108-year-old denizen of the thicket, would provide insight. I don’t mean about the game, but mostly his little world, where he continues his search for quick riches.
There’s little evidence so far. The rapid-fire ideas he “wanted to run by me” suggest that while rainbows might brighten skies from time to time, there are no pots of gold to be found.
Consider this: He and Aunt Maude weren’t watching the game. Instead, they were on the front porch, “doing something constructive.” He was washing golf balls; she was sewing up tennis balls.
He said he’d been on the creek a lot, diving for golf balls. “They built a new golf course up the road, and there’s a running creek on the fairway leading to the third hole.”
The picture of Mort in a swimsuit diving for the errant golf balls is not a pretty one, but now I understand his eBay ads, touting “slightly used golf balls that have never been on the green.”
That’s not all. The tennis balls Maude is repairing fell from the front “legs” of metal “walkers” at the care center. Mort’s contention in the ad is that the balls have “never been on the court.”
Next, he wants to raise homing pigeons. “I read about a guy who has sold his homing pigeon on eBay 13 times,” Mort laughed.
I chuckled on the drive home, thankful for an uncle who insists on tuning out daily noises of turmoil and strife, choosing to take the road less traveled to his world of make believe.
Dr. Newbury is a long-time public speaker and university president who writes weekly. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.