The Idle American

Proof in the picture

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My friend John, whose profession requires his being on airliners much of the time, is pretty much a “follow the rules” kind of guy. He adheres to flight attendants’ directives to the letter. If you guess he keeps his seat belt securely fastened at all times--just like the pilots do up front --you are correct.

He acknowledges that many fellow flyers are way off course on travel etiquette, however, and just when he thinks he has seen all possible gross conduct, up pops another vignette that begs for inclusion on the list. The other day--flying at 35,000 feet with his tray table in the upright and locked position--he glanced across the aisle.

Curled up on the seat was a passenger whose tray table was in the downright and dirty position. Resting thereon were both feet, shoeless and sockless. He took a picture of said feet, sending it along to Facebook friends with this notation: “Flying at 35,000 feet where it smells like 35,000 feet.”

Speaking of feet, my Uncle Mort--already planning his 105th birthday party come July 4--says some of his friends in the thicket are mighty shy. “It’s a long spell after making new acquaintances before they’ll look ‘em straight in the eye,” he says. “These shy souls say little, mostly staring down at their feet.”

There’s hope for one of his neighbors, Mort believes. “The other day--after shaking hands with a new friend he met at the general store--he looked down at the other guy’s feet.”

My uncle warns that too much should not be made of this. This may be the closest he ever gets to being an extrovert.

Feet get quite a workout, if not physically, certainly they do conversationally. In poetry, they are what the fog comes in on, according to Carl Sandburg.

In measurement, signs tell us how far away hazards are.

And some of us open our mouths only to change feet.

In the “golden days” of radio, we listened intently to certain entertainers, who, week after week, made unchanging statements.

We were easily entertained, laughing every week at the Duke of Paducah’s invariable segment ending Saturday nights on The Grand Ole Opry: “I’m goin’ back to the wagon ‘cause these shoes are killing me.”

Another entertainer who always landed on his feet was the inimitable Red Skelton, both on radio and TV. His memorable closing words, unquestionably sincere, warmed hearts: “Goodnight, and may God bless.”

Who can forget the duck feed joke? It conjures imagery of Daffy Duck, and thinking of the memorable cartoon figure’s padded feet makes it funnier.

You know the account: A duck wanders into a feed store, inquiring about duck feed. “We have cattle feed, chicken feed, horse feed, sheep feed and goat feed,” the guy says. “But, no duck feed.”

This vignette plays out three consecutive days, and the clerk tires of the question.

“I’ve told you daily what kind of feed we have, and that we don’t have duck feed,” he snorts.

Fearing the fowl doesn’t believe him, he adds that if the duck comes in with the same question on the morrow, he will “nail his little padded feet to the floor.”

Undaunted, the duck wanders in the next day, this time asking, “Do you have any nails? Do you have any hammers?” The feed store guy shakes his head. “Got any duck feed?” the duck asks, hurriedly exiting the store.

Feet certainly aren’t forgotten in the Bible. Without numerous Scriptures referencing feet, it would be a much smaller book.

Our spirits are buoyed by Isaiah 52:7 (NIV). “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’!”

Such tidings are desperately needed; the world’s view of what is good grows dim.

Contact Don by email: newbury@speakerdoc.com or phone: 817-447-3872

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