May I Ask, Are You “Vivian”?
Public figures can teach or reinforce some valuable lessons.
Jack Runninger, O.D.
I always had difficulty trying to get a date with a girl,” lamented Rodney Dangerfield. “So a friend arranged a blind date with a girl named Vivian. I was supposed to meet her on the corner of Main and Elm at 7:00 p.m. I got there early, and finally at about 7:15 a young lady approached.
“Are you Vivian?” I asked.
“Are you Rodney?” she said.
“Then I’m not Vivian!”
There’s a lesson to be learned from Rodney. He has become popular because he is so self deprecating, and makes fun of himself rather than other people.
Over the years I have met a few public figures from whom I’ve also learned some lessons.
“Slud” into second
Dizzy Dean, the famous baseball player, was kind of a hero to me when I was growing up, and thus I was delighted when he came here to Rome, Ga. a number of years ago — especially when I got to sit and converse with him when he made a speech to the Lions Club.
“Diz” was a country boy from the Ozark mountains in Arkansas, with almost no education. Thus his grammar was atrocious! Nevertheless, he was such a colorful character, he was hired as a radio and later, TV announcer for games after his pitching days were over. A couple of his grammatically butchered descriptions he often used were, “The runner ‘slud’ into second base.” And, “The runners have returned to their respectable bases.”
He “ain’t” dumb
In addition, he was prolific in his use of the word “ain’t.” A teacher wrote the network complaining that his constant use of the word was making students think that poor grammar was acceptable.
“There’s lots of folks who ain’t never said ‘ain’t,’ who ain’t making near as much money as me,” was his answer. I realized then that you’d better not underestimate the wisdom and intelligence of a person because of their lack of education and poor grammar.
Time to tell her
The late Leo Aikman was a humor columnist for the Atlanta Constitution, and a nationally known speaker. When he discovered that he and I had both attended DePauw University, he looked me up and we became good friends. He demonstrated the importance of humor in controlling stress. One of the stories he told demonstrates his humor:
As an elderly man watched his wife knitting by the fire, he mused to himself: “We’ve been married 50 years, and she’s been a good wife. She’s taken care of the house and me without ever complaining. Yet, I’ve never taken her anyplace or remembered her birthday or done anything nice for her. I guess it’s time I should tell her I appreciate her.”
So aloud, he said to her, “Mandy, I’m proud of you!”
Without looking up from her knitting, the hard of hearing Mandy replied to him, “I’m tired of you too!”
Laughing is better than crying
Leo also learned the lesson of laughing at hardships, rather than whining about them. He was raised on a small farm in Indiana, and lived in a house that was heated only by one fireplace.
“I was 21 years old before I ever knew that you were entitled to be warm on both sides at the same time,” he told me. OM
JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE’S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.
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