By Bob Huber
I don’t go a-Maying anymore, nor do I bring home the first gay blossoms of the greater stitchwort. But now that I’m officially seniored, I’ve thought about returning to that celebration, because there’s bound to be some good in it.
But what I really like to do nowadays is celebrate birthdays that happen in May, like that of the Italian statesman and author, Niccolo Machiavelli, who was born May 3, 1469, just before Elizabeth Taylor made her Hollywood debut. It was Machiavelli, you’ll recall, who one day sat down at his computer and sketched a blueprint for political shenanigans that’s been followed religiously by successful government bosses ever since.
What he said was, you shouldn’t bother with high ideals and stuff like that if you want to successfully take over and run a government. Politics, he said, is a game to be played by stealth and cleverness, not withstanding a few wars and a little murder.
Some folks have been cussing Machiavelli ever since, because they’re convinced politicians should be honest, forthright, and full of hail fellow well met. Most of them are little old ladies in tennis shoes, and I say poo poo to them.
I’ve met a couple of honest, forthright and sincere politicians in my day, and they always come in second when they run for office. That’s because they tell it like it is, right to your face. I don’t know about you, but some stuff I don’t want to hear about, and if I did, I sure wouldn’t ask someone who came in second.
But there are all kinds of people around, and like the greater stitchwort, they seem to blossom in May and send me into sneezing spasms. They’re everywhere I go. I can’t get away from them. Here’s a random sampling:
• Some folks save things, like old paper bags, newspapers, or pieces of string. I don’t know why. As far as I know, they never do anything with them. I once knew a guy who saved nutcrackers, hundreds of them, and when he died, his kids found a pile of hulls in the basement.
• Some people like rhubarb pie. Others put okra right up there with chocolate chip cookies, and still others won’t start the day without a big snort of booze. Well, I say fine, if that’s what they want to do as long as they don’t preach to me about the finer points of rhubarb, okra, or booze. Frankly, I like to start my day with a bowl of Fruit Loops. Don’t laugh if you haven’t tried it.
• Then there are folks who go nuts over pretty sunsets. My house doesn’t have any windows on the west side, so I don’t see much good in sunsets. But I do have lots of windows on the east side of my house, and I’m always filled with wonder at the sunrises. Still, I don’t go nuts every morning and demand that everyone come and stand in the warm sunlight and look at all the pretty colors. What’s the good?
• Some married folks have never had a cross word, which really means they’ve never known the pleasures of making up. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with them. They probably think the whale is a fish too, and they won’t get an argument out of me on that.
• Speaking of folks who get on your nerves, it was May 9, l671, that Thomas Blood and a couple of guys stole the crown of England and some other royal stuff out of the Tower of London. They were caught straight away, but King Charles II thought Blood’s antics so colorful that he pardoned him. So Blood stuck around for a few years, offering bribes and otherwise corrupting the court. I forget this story’s moral, but it isn’t good.
• A couple of hundred years later a guy named Ottmar Wurttemberg was born on May 10, 1854, and when he grew up, he invented the linotype machine. Until computers took over, linotype machines ran newspapers. Some say linotype machines and computers can almost think, and that’s why they’re good to have around newspaper offices.
Incidentally, Tasmanian Devils have their young in May on the island of Tasmania in the South Pacific. Scholars say the Devils live only in Tasmania, and that’s fine with me. I have enough trouble with robins messing up my patio.
On that subject, a news story recently told about a pair of robins in Willoughby, Ohio, who started 26 nests before they made up their minds to settle down and have chicks. And they say that romance is gone.
While we’re at it, if you’re born between May 24 and June 22, you’re a Gemini.
According to the stars, you were a little rambunctious in youth, but you’ve settled down and become a useful citizen. Sometimes, usually in May, you wonder why.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.