The music of the ages


Well-Known Member
Reaction score
The music of the ages

By Bobby Neal Winters

I got a call last week from my old friend Bubba back home. It’s always interesting to talk to Bubba because he has a talent for generating excitement, and it’s usually excitement about something that is completely unimportant.

We talked back and forth for a while, and then, as so often happens, we came to a lull in the conversation. At that point, I thought of saying good-bye, but then I remembered he had called. Out in the backwoods, we didn’t learn much about manners, but we were taught not to end a telephone conversation you hadn’t started.

This has been a curse to me over the years. Nevertheless, rules are rules, and it wasn’t possible for me to end the conversation, so I decided to make some small talk instead.

“Have you got your garden in?” I asked. This is always a conversation builder, and as you may recall, Bubba has within the last couple of years reclaimed some land which had been left to him by his deceased Uncle Vencil.

“Yep,” he said. “I planted my corn about the time the oak leaves were the size of a squirrel’s ears, and it’s coming along right nicely. And I got my ‘maters in and I’ll be covered up in them if the cutworms don’t get ‘em.”

Hearing that, it seemed as if mid-summer might be a good time to make a trip down home to see good ol’ Bubba. Nothing says friendship like garden vegetables. All was going well, but then I asked one too many questions.
“What about beans? Have you planted any pintos?” There is nothing quite like fresh green beans with new potatoes.

However innocent my question, it was the wrong thing to ask because it was at that point that Bubba went through the roof. I mean this in a metaphorical sense because, as he was on his cell phone, I don’t know if he was actually under a roof. In any case, I let him cuss and roar for a while and was only able to catch words like “bacteria,” “scientist,” and “idiots.”
After he’d expended enough emotional energy, I was able to communicate with him.

“Hold on there, Bubba,” I said. “I can’t understand a thing you’re saying.”

“I said I am afraid to plant any beans because them scientists have made some bacteria that will infect them, and I don’t want no danged ol’ infected beans in my garden.”

“What in the world are you talking about?” I was mystified.

“It was an article on the internet.

I remembered the day that Bubba had gotten connected to the internet and cursed it.

“Would you send me a link to it?” I asked, and he did.

It turns out what Bubba was referring to was the work of a pair of scientists from Bolivar University in Venezuela. It seems they’ve discovered that if you soak beans in water treated with two particular species of lacto bacillus that will reduce the, shall we say, acoustical effects.

After reading this, I called Bubba back to set him straight.

“The beans don’t have a disease,” I said. “It’s just a treatment to keep them from making you so gassy.”

“Are you saying I’m too gassy?” he asked.

“No, Bubba,” I replied hastily. I didn’t want a misunderstanding. “I mean anybody, like the scientists for instance.”

“So what’s the matter with them? Do they think they’re too good to be gassy? Do they think there’s something wrong with it?” He seemed to be hostile to the notion of reducing flatulence by scientific means. “I remember growing up that after eating my hide full of bean I could keep everyone entertained for hours and hours.”
And hours as I recalled.

“I don’t know that they think they are too good,” I replied. “It’s a matter of politeness. Most folks think breaking wind in public situations is bad manners. What did your momma teach you?”

He was quiet for a moment which made me nervous, but then he spoke.
“Momma told me not to in church because I might drowned out the preacher, so I always just waited for them to play some loud music.”
It was my turn to be quiet for a moment.
“Are you still there?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “In any case, it is perfectly safe to plant your beans because you won’t catch anything from them, and they will still give you gas so don’t worry about that.”

Then I remembered I had called him back, and said good-bye. He did too, but I’ll not forget his last words to me.
“See you in Church.”

Not during the loud music, I hope.

(Bobby Winters is a Professor of Mathematics, writer, and speaker. You may contact him at or visit his website )