Finally, I See
THE IDLE AMERICAN
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
My grandkids might understandably say of me, “Oh, Poppy, you are so yesterday.”
And they are so right, clearly on target if they encase me with the “day before yesterday” crowd.
Whatever, they often kid me about needless effort expended in simple written communication.
For example, I frequently scrawl the word “okay.” They assure me that “K” works just as well for them. They–with fingers and thumbs flying across tiny iPhone keyboards hundreds of times daily–may be right.
Pretty amazing that the simple letter “K” successfully compresses meaning where multiple letters fear to go, huh?
Compressing as far as I dare, I’ll cite two letters that stand tall to represent two major problems of this era: “IC.”
Do you see? After all, both are handy excuses in virtually all areas of life. Blame inflation or blame COVID. This ties ribbon on a small package of excuses often used to place blame, right?
This thought occurred during a recent visit to what we old-timers still call a “variety store.” A woman–her hair as white as mine–joined me in pausing at a bin containing “jawbreakers.” (If you have to ask what “jawbreakers” are, it is pointless for you to read further.)
The “come-on” sign read, “Special Today: 10 for a Dollar!”
I feared having a smothering spell, right there on aisle seven, and the lady trembled a bit. We both were shocked by this outlandish price.
Both of us remembered–simultaneously or near thereto–that “jawbreakers” of yesteryear were always priced the same wherever we shopped: One penny each!
A young sales clerk hailed down near the display tried mightily to defend the monumental price hike. “Our jawbreakers are individually wrapped,” he whined. “Were yours?”
Neither of us could remember, but we agreed that they probably weren’t. At least the youngster didn’t blame “I” or “C.”
This could mark the end of “jawbreakers,” I suppose. Or, maybe the cost of cellophane has ballooned, or perhaps COVID greatly reduced availability of workers.
Now don’t go out looking for good buys on “jawbreakers,” because if there’s a run on them, we may next expect to see them “sale-priced” at ten for ten dollars.
That’s what happened when persons buying Girl Scout cookies discovered that the “Raspberry Rally” flavor had sold out. Suddenly, cravings for this specific flavor spread–wildfire like–when pantries went bare. Don’t bother to wonder. As soon as news of the shortage spread, it was e-Bay to the rescue. There, “Raspberry Rally” cookies were available, some at several hundred dollars PER PACKAGE. See what happens when we panic?
It likely won’t be otherwise noted, but “jawbreakers” became popular in this country almost exactly one century ago; what ho, it’s “jawbreaker anniversary time.” (Okay, call them “JBs” if you’d like. Today’s youngsters don’t care what we call what they probably consider to be a poor excuse for candy.)
Alas, we didn’t introduce “jawbreakers,” unless you’d like to “bluff” that we did.
They were popular in Great Britain a few years earlier, but in the Mother Country, they were called “gobstoppers.” (If you are curious how such a name was chosen, you can look it up.) Suffice it to say that neither “jawbreakers” nor “gobstoppers” remain in production, and sales were propped up greatly by the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, about a half-century ago.
While on the topic of unlikely names, what about “NerdWallets?” These items are being advertised heavily on TV during the NBA basketball play-offs.
I’d have to think a long time before I’d choose such a name for wallets. Even those among us with “Nerdlike” characteristics hate to admit it.
Maybe investors with death wishes chose the name. If so, their demise may be near at hand, because here in the USofA, we want something like rawhide, cowhide or deerskin in the name. I’m guessing it’ll take something more than a chocolate movie to keep “NerdWallet” on store shelves. ‘Course, we can always check on eBay.
Dr. Newbury, longtime university president, writes weekly and speaks regularly. Contact: 817-447-3872. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: Don Newbury.