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Saturday, July 13, 2024 at 5:41 AM

Wise words from wise men

Wise words from wise men A STORY WORTH TELLING

“Fine honey, as long as you get it delivered.”

— Heber Taylor III, author and former Galveston News editor

One perk of living a long life is recalling smart people you’ve met and remembering what you learned from them.

Wise men like Ben Grimes up in Naples.

Ben dropped by The Monitor office one morning back when I owned the Morris County newspaper.

Told me he couldn’t stay long; just dropped in for coffee. Said his wife had asked him to mow the grass.

Ordinarily, Ben wouldn’t have been so bent on completing a chore like yard work to the point he’d let it interfere with coffee. But he quickly sipped the hot cup as he shared how he figured out long ago the way any married man could always get the last word in any conversation.

Just make sure those last words are, “ Yes, dear.”

Former Galveston County Daily News editor and columnist Heber Taylor III offered his own words of wisdom, and a story perfectly illustrating the point.

Heber’s father, Heber Taylor II, hired me as a journalism instructor when he was the communication department chair at Stephen F. Austin State University. He also offered words of wisdom. But that’s another story for another day.

The younger Taylor recounted in a column, his experience of being approached by a young man facing holy matrimony. The groom-tobe had sought Taylor’s advice about married life.

“There are nine magic words for a successful marriage,” Taylor wrote, “And if you learn them while you’re young, you will save yourself a lot of grief.”

With those words, the editor told about the day his wife bought a piano. “The Wise Woman (as he always called her) contacted me during the busiest part of the day and said something about a piano,” he said.

“It was the crucial time of my day — deadline. If I’m five minutes late, I will have angry readers and even angrier bosses.”

So, to save time, Taylor said he uttered those nine magic words to his wife.

“Fine honey, as long as you get it delivered.”

He then returned to press day duties, giving the matter no more thought. Until he went home that evening.

“It’s always a bad sign,” Taylor told the story, “When a crowd is gathered around your house watching a spectacle.” He said a wrecker truck was parked squarely in the middle of his yard, with the boom fully extended. Dangling by a length of cable was a piano with a wiry little man riding on top of it, swinging it back and forth.

Taylor said he quickly determined that the object of this bizarre exercise was an attempt to swing the piano onto the upstairs porch of the house on stilts and into the grip of three big men waiting to grab the instrument.

“A guy eating ice cream jabbed me in the ribs,” said Taylor.

“And bet me five bucks the piano would fall, taking all those guys down with it.

“Miraculously,” the wide-eyed husband said, “He was wrong. However, the men on the porch did slip twice, eliciting exclamations from the crowd.”

Taylor said he told the prospective groom that the bruised and bleeding workers were glad when it was over.

And voiced concerns about the woman who had orchestrated such a scheme. He said they finally settled on treating their wounds, taking the money, and going home — while shaking their heads.

“Weren’t you mad at her for ruining you financially,” Taylor said the young man asked him.

“Oh, she would have done that anyway,” Taylor confessed.

“That’s not the choice you have to make as man of the house. The choice is, do I want to be ruined financially.

Or do I want to be ruined financially, and be mashed to death by a piano while all the neighbors watch?”

Taylor said he could see right away the young fellow was already beginning to understand about marriage. He was mumbling to himself as he walked away.

I remember that August morning more than 25 years ago in downtown Naples when Ben and I shared the intricacies of navigating married life.

Looking back, Heber presumably survived the piano predicament. But I’m sure Ben mowed the grass.

Because the “Yes, dear” ticket expires the very first time you forget something you promised to do.


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