A childish “giddiness” engulfs my Uncle Mort annually about this time. Maude says his behavior is as predictable as the arrival of hummingbirds to the colorful feeders the couple hang each summer.
“Come to think of it, Mort goes for the ‘red stuff,’ too,” she said. “But his weakness is for the season’s first delectable watermelons.”
The old couple learned long ago that May melons don’t usually measure up, serving only to make the buckets heavy when they “slop” the hogs.
Mort freely admits that a big slice of watermelon—eaten in the shade of a tree on a hot summer day—is a foretaste of glory divine.
He claims he tries not to view the cutting and slicing of the first melon each season.
“If I look at it too much before I get my first big bite, my mouth starts watering,” he contends. “And I don’t want to dilute the taste none.”
My uncle, who’ll celebrate his 106th birthday on July 4, brags often about his “double-barrel wins” in the thicket’s annual watermelon-eating contests held during his youth. Sure enough, there on his mantel are a dozen trophies, each inscribed with his “double-barrel” watermelon supremacy.
“Not only was I able to eat the most watermelon, I proved each year to be the most level-headed guy in the thicket.”
Perhaps I’d do better not to question him about his boasts, which he always claims to be “on the level.” He said by the time he chomped down on his third bite, the fruit’s luscious liquid was streaming from each corner of his mouth at exactly the same rate. “Only a level-headed guy could do that,” he cackled.
Mort says he often finished last in the seed-spitting contest, however.
He remembers it required too much concentration, thus limiting his time for “chatter.” This is easy to believe, since not much gets between Mort and his domination of conversations.
When he was really “revved up” at one of his parties, his “yakking” was clocked at 175 words per minute, with gusts to 200.
These days, he’s planning for his upcoming July 4th birthday, and he’ll be mailing invitations to his outdoor party in the thicket soon. He isn’t revealing too many of his plans, but by the looks of his invitation, it will have a “watermelon theme.”
He always tries to work in some patriotic references, and the same is true this year. Maude has purchased white and blue napkins, and watermelons will add the color red.
Each invitation will have a watermelon seed attached, reminding celebrants that everyone who attends will take home a watermelon.
A farmer neighbor with a bumper crop of melons this year has offered Mort an “in-the-field” price of 75 cents each.
“I’m going to buy 50, with an option to pull a few more during the party if everyone in the thicket shows up.”
From time to time, invitations have included wordage about gifts “not being expected.” So many bring them anyway, Mort surmises, he thinks he’ll change wording to say, “Each guest bringing a gift will take home a free watermelon.”
I mentioned to him that I didn’t realize that he and his farmer neighbor were such close friends.
He responded with a friendly, blunted “jab,” clearly conveying that I was “wrong again.”
“On the contrary,” he said. “There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for me, and nothing I wouldn’t do for him. So consequently, we do little for each other,” he laughed.
Mort knows his friends will attend. They always do, with a “good time to be had by all.”
And, no matter how much he emphasizes watermelons, Maude will bake a humongous birthday cake. She’s always been as good as it gets in the kitchen.
They say whatever she bakes is always bodacious, and her cakes have been described by innumerable friends as “the best they’ve ever lapped lips over.”