Who the heck would shoot mistletoe out of a tree?
A Georgia resident named Bill Robinson, that’s who. Robinson was featured Tuesday on the “Ridiculist” segment of Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN because he'd used a 12-gauge, double-barrel shotgun to blast mistletoe out of a tree on private property. While Robinson may be applauded for his clever labor- and money-saving strategy, the authorities were not pleased and he was booked.Your mind may be reeling at the potential consequences this scenario presents, as mine did. For instance, would someone find it romantic if you went out and shot some mistletoe on their behalf? What if, as you were smootching your significant other under said mistletoe, a bullet dropped into your beehive hairdo? And if other people hear about what you've done, might you incur the wrath of some organization that advocates non violence toward holiday decorations? Would you be splashed with red paint in public as someone screams "Mistletoe is Murder!" in your face?
After considering these and other potential outcomes, my thoughts turned to Nick’s Uncle Burnley.
Burnley never married and lived with his mother in a large house on a sizeable plot of land in rural Georgia. Nick has often told me tales of how Uncle Burnley would sit on his front porch, take out his shotgun, and blast pecans out of the trees. Every Christmas, Burnley would mail Nick's mother (Mrs. P) a shoe box full of pecans. To my knowledge, no one ever broke a tooth biting into a buckshot-filled pecan.
I met Burnley twice. The first time was in the mid 80s, when I attended his mother's funeral with Nick and Mrs. P. After a Southern church service funeral, everyone gathers at the home of the bereaved to eat fried chicken, corn muffins, and such. (Funeral food in the South is good eating, I can assure you.) The home in which Burnley resided was decorated in a style best described as "Benign Neglect" or perhaps "Early Boo Radley." For example, when Nick and I sneaked away to check out the rambling, creaky, once-grand house, we discovered a broken second-floor window--with grass growing on the floor.
|Nick's Aunt Doris, Nick, and Uncle Burnley|
Many years later, in 2003, we visited Burnley again. We'd heard he was in declining health and decided we'd better see him while we could. I don't believe Nick had had the occasion to talk to his uncle in several years (they did correspond with Christmas cards for a while). And yet, here comes Burnley to greet us at the front door, and the first thing out of his mouth is, "Have you fixed Jimmy Carter yet?"
A few years later, Burnley moved into a nursing home and gained notoriety by rolling down the hallways on occasion, naked, in his wheelchair. He passed away in 2007.
You probably have a relative like Burnley, if you're lucky and you're from the South. If not, well, bless your heart, happy holidays, and go get some mistletoe.