“I am tired of acquiring wisdom. Somebody bring me a drink and a whoopee cushion.” – Cornelius Talbot


By Bill Derby

The above quote was at the top of my birthday card presented by my son, Jeff, and granddaughter, Leslie.  Both chuckled as I opened the envelope.  I laughed too. The photo of an old fluffed up owl made the quote all the better.

I have no idea who Cornelius Talbot is or was. I couldn’t find him on the (EIM), Electronic Information Machine–LOL.  The closest associated name I found was Publius Tacitus (or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus; c. 56–after 117 AD), Roman orator, lawyer, and senator who was full of bullish quotes on everything from politics to women. And to beat that, according to historical accounts, a form of whoopee cushion was known in ancient Rome so I guess Cornelius Tacitus may have coined the quote and used a whoopee cushion prank too. Can you imagine Julius Caesar sitting on a whoopee cushion? Half the Roman Senate would run for cover, probably the liberal side.

Cornelius Talbot, who are you and why do you need a whoopee cushion and a drink?

Our baby boomer generation does not need “window blasters.” I have looked high and low for the one dad brought home many years ago. As a great jokester he was a connoisseur of every gimmick known to man. He offered his toys to me to try out on my friends or at school. Once he brought home a rubberized ‘up-chuck’ pad that looked very realistic. I immediately took that one to school and placed it on the table during lunch break.  It became an historic event in our six-grade class.  Miss Sparks, our English teacher, who had lunch duty that day, looked on the ‘up-chuck’ pad as a realistic regurgitation of cornbread and beans served for lunch. She quickly turned her head as a table-full of boys broke into stifled laughter.

There were others but this column is about wisdom and age.

My granddaughter and I were sitting on our deck Sunday waiting for my birthday dinner bell.  She asked how old I was and if I felt any different. “Leslie, I feel and think the same as I did when I was thirty years old, mentally, but the old body doesn’t have the energy along with a few aches and pains. Hopefully, I have gained more wisdom, understanding and patience. No, wait, forget patience. Still working on that,” I laughed.

I told her a little story about an incident that happened last week while I was taking photos of people watching the eclipse at Founders Park. I had my camera looking for people to photograph. A little boy came bouncing over to me happy and excited. I was standing on the lower sidewalk and he was on the stone wall at my eye level.  We exchanged high-fives.

He proudly stated, “I’m four years old. How old are you?”

I proudly said, “I’m seventy one!” Suddenly, he got a surprised and very serious look on his face and took off running to his mom. Kind of made me feel old.  Scares me too, kid!


Some of my favorite thoughts on age are listed below…

• When I was a boy the Dead Sea was only sick. George Burns

• I don’t plan to grow old gracefully. I plan to have face-lifts until my ears meet. Rita Rudner

• People ask me what I’d most appreciate getting for my 87th birthday. I tell them, a paternity suit. George Burns

• We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress. Will Rogers

• The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again. Erma Bombeck

• An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her. Agatha Christie

• I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes. Andy Rooney

• When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of algebra. Will Rogers

• As a graduate of the Zsa Zsa Gabor School of Creative mathematics, I honestly do not know how old I am. Erma Bombeck

• I’m at an age when my back goes out more than I do. Phyllis Diller

• There is only one cure for gray hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine. P.G. Wodehouse

• My grandmother was a very tough woman. She buried three husbands and two of them were just napping. Rita Rudner

• At my age, flowers scare me. George Burns

• A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, ‘“At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.” Claude Pepper

• You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake. Bob Hope

• He’s so old that when he orders a three-minute egg, they ask for the money up front. George Burns

• Whatever you may look like, marry a man your own age — as your beauty fades, so will his eyesight. Phyllis Diller

• So far, this is the oldest I’ve been. George Carlin

• By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too old to go anywhere. Billy Crystal

• True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. Kurt Vonnegut

• Middle age is when you still believe you’ll feel better in the morning. Bob Hope

• You know you’re getting old when you get that one candle on the cake. It’s like, “See if you can blow this out.” Jerry Seinfeld

• The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left. Jerry M. Wright

• Talk about getting old. I was getting dressed and a peeping tom looked in the window, took a look and pulled down the shade. Joan Rivers


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