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It occurred to me the other day just what a blessing it is to be a grandfather. The children think we're all powerful, a fount of knowledge and wisdom. Then they turn three ...

We could all use coot lessons.

Yes, the enigmatic old coot in every small town like ours has wisdom corralled, knowledge tucked away for a rainy day, and is especially mysterious. So here are some coot lessons.

Lesson One: Look colorful. Wear a hat that was found buried at Gettysburg or Thermopylae. Don't clean it up. Wear boots that aren't polished with anything not provided by horses and cows. Red suspenders are called for. Extra points for stains.

Lesson Two: Learn a coot skill. These include whittling, rope tricks, sharpening pocket knives and sleight of hand. You get extra points for playing something recognizable on the harmonica. A jaw harp is good. All you have to do is twang it, because no one can recognize a tune on it anyway. If you play piano, deduct 10 points.

As to the whittling, you just keep your knife sharp and shave sticks thinner and thinner. Hold it up to the light and turn it. Extra points for a notch or two carved in it. Then you hand it to a kid to keep.
"What is it?" a rude kid might ask.

That's when you screw up your grizzled face, wink at the kid, and say, "I'm sure you must recognize that, kid. You look pretty smart to me."

And now the all-important Lesson Three: Never let them pin you down on ideas. Oh, we know they're right. The problem is, some college-trained punk will pepper us with facts and make us look bad.

Here's an example of Coot Tact.

Young punk – "The world's heading for catastrophe."
Coot – "Son, that's what they want you to think."
Then snap your red suspenders and tip him a conspiratorial wink.

(Never, upon pain of root canal, explain who "they" are)
The word will spread and you will be credited with bringing civilization to the world, inventing the solenoid, rescuing fair maidens and discovering fire.
And if you do this long enough, you'll outlive anyone who can call you a liar.

Brought to you by Home Country (the book). See it at http://nmsantos.com/Books/Home/Home.html


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