It had already been a long, frustrating day and I needed a break. I headed for the coffee shop down the road from the co-op. As I expected, Eb Griper's rusty old Studebaker pick-up was parked up front.
Eb is an old friend but even his closest acquaintances acknowledge that he can be an abrasive old coot short tempered, outspoken and well, just plain cranky.
I spotted Eb from the front door and slipped into his booth.
Eb looked up from his newspaper, broke into a smile and said, "Good morning, my friend."
I quickly slipped out of the booth and said, "I'm sorry, I thought you were Eb Griper."
Eb smiled again and said, "Sit down and take a load off, old buddy. I'm sure you can use a break."
"What happened to you, Eb? You're being so so"
"Yeah, that's it. You're being nice. What happened?"
Eb chuckled an unfamiliar laugh. "Well, my friend, I have decided to turn a new leaf. I am now the Town Sage."
"The town what?"
Eb smiled again. It was creepy. "I have decided to be the Town Sage a purveyor of wisdom. A man of maturity and insight. Someone people can go to for advice."
I tried not to raise my eyebrows but I could feel them twitching.
"So what brought this on?" I asked.
"I decided the other day that there are too many stupid people in this town and to compensate I must share the wisdom I have accumulated over the years."
This is going to be interesting, I thought. "So share some wisdom with me," I suggested with trepidation.
"Of course," Eb said. "How about this: If everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane."
That made sense. Maybe I had been misjudging Eb all these years. "Okay, what else do you know?"
"He who laughs last probably doesn't understand the joke."
"You're probably right," I said.
"Here's yet another bit of wisdom for you," Eb continued. "If it were not for electricity, we would all be watching TV by candlelight."
"You've been reading Reader's Digest, haven't you?
"Not at all," Eb protested. "This is MY wisdom I'm sharing. Listen up, boy, you might learn something."
Before I could respond, Eb continued, "Never name a pig you plan to eat."
"Eb, who names pigs? Where are you getting this stuff?"
Eb grinned broadly and continued, "Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco."
"Didn't Will Rogers say that?" I asked.
"May have. But Eb Griper says it now."
Eb was on a roll. "The severity of the itch is directly proportional to the reach."
"I've heard that one before," I said.
"And now you've heard it again from the Town Sage."
I shook my head but before I could say anything, Eb said, "Some days you're the dog, some days you're the hydrant."
"Now that one makes sense, Eb"
"Naturally. I'm the Town Sage." Eb paused for a second and continued, "A man who sneezes without a hanky takes matters into his own hands."
"Yuk, Eb. That's nasty"
Eb interrupted, "If you think that there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody."
"I've heard enough, Eb"
"Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines."
My patience was growing thin. "I've heard enough, Eb"
"Never throw a brick straight up."
As I slipped out of the booth, I warned, "I'm leaving now, Eb. I've heard enough advice for a week. Don't overdo"
"The things that come to those who wait are usually the things left by those who got there first. Bad breath is better than no breath at all"
"Eb," I shouted.
Eb shut up long enough to ask, "What?"
"You're not the Town Sage; you're the Village Idio"
"A bumble bee is faster than a John Deere tractor"