David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Royalty, Signs, Success, Sports

Royalty

• In 1955, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson had dinner with Princess Margaret. As he talked to her, he noticed that he had gravy on his hand, so he reached under the table for a napkin and began to wipe away the gravy. Princess Margaret (who had a sense of humor) stared at him, then said, “Governor Stevenson, will you kindly remove your filthy hand from my scarf?”

Signs

• When Hurricane Irene hit the American east coast in August 2011, some people responded with wit. For example, the Hieronymous Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Wilmington, NC has an outdoor sign on which it can post messages by using individual, physical letters rather than letters formed by light bulbs or light-emitting diodes. This is the message that the restaurant posted: “We are open until the letters fly off this sign.” Another restaurant posted this sign: “Irene, You Have No Reservation.”

• Harry Ackerman used to display this sign in his restaurant: “COURTEOUS, EFFICIENT SELF-SERVICE.”

Success

• Some people are driven to be successful because they were unpopular in school — especially, I think, in high school. Mike Nichols, of course, was a successful comedian with Elaine May, and he became a successful director. Once, someone came up to him and said, “You don’t remember me, but — .” Mr. Nichols replied, “I remember you very well. You’re Eddie Pompadour. You’re a prick.” Eddie had bullied Mr. Nichols when they were kids. Mr. Nichols asked Eddie, “So, what are you doing now?” Eddie said, “I’m selling used cars.” Mr. Nichols said, “I’m so glad.”

• Soccer superstar Julie Foudy has worn No. 11 ever since she was in the 6th grade, when she chose it because, “I figured it meant I was double No. 1.”

Sports

• Tom Danehy, columnist for Tucson Weekly in Tucson, Arizona, is also a coach in many sports. For example, he coaches middle school six-man flag football during the late summer and early fall. In 2011, his star player was Hope, a left-handed Asian girl. About Hope, Mr. Danehy says, “In probably half the games this season, she was clearly the best athlete on the field for either team.” Having a girl on the team doesn’t bother the other players, but some adults are puzzled and one asked Mr. Danehy, “So, what are you trying to prove? Is this some kind of social experiment?” He replied, “Dude, your kid’s team just got whupped, and that ‘social experiment’ accounted for four touchdowns.” (Hope returned an interception for a touchdown, passed for a touchdown, and ran for two touchdowns.)

• Goalies in professional ice hockey often wear No. 1 on their uniforms. The custom goes back to the days when teams traveled by train to play away games. Because the teams had to travel so far, the players slept in berths — small sleeping compartments stacked one on top of another. The lower berths were more comfortable for sleeping (and more convenient to get in and out of), so they were greatly desired. Teams decided to award sleeping berths on the basis of the numbers the players wore, because in those days the players with the most seniority had the lowest numbers. However, teams gave the lowest number of all — No. 1 — to goalies because being a goalie is rugged work and goalies are usually exhausted after a game.

• Gymnastics can be dangerous. Indiana State gymnast Kurt Thomas and several other members of his and Oklahoma University’s men’s gymnastics team once watched the women’s gymnastics teams suffer through a very bad meet — with bodies flying everywhere — in Oklahoma City. Mr. Thomas had his jacket stuffed in his mouth as he watched, Bart Conner covered his eyes with his hands, and several men gymnasts left because the scene was so horrific and they were too scared to watch.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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