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Old Phil Propagated A Good Old Hoax
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TITLE (EDIT)
Old Phil Propagated A Good Old Hoax
DESCRIPTION
It began as all things begin n a long period of boredom with nothing exciting to do. Whoever said, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” knew something of what they were speaking.

[882 words]
AUTHOR
James Snyder
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James L. Snyder is an award winning author and popular columnist living with his wife, Martha, in Ocala, Florida and can be contacted at jamessnyder2@att.net.
[October 2009]
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
jamessnyder2@att.net
AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (15)
A Cup Of Joe Says A Lot About Us (Short Stories) This week I came face-to-face with a genuine dilemma. I had several meetings across town and for some reason I miscalculated and ended up with a 2-1/2 hour gap between meetings. I hate to waste time, ... [902 words]
A Page From Betty Crocker’S Cookbook (Essays) Recently, while sitting in my chair drinking the last of my breakfast coffee, a thought staggered into my mind. I must confess most thoughts are quite lonely once they enter my mind, but this one had ... [860 words] [Humor]
A Silent Night — Not At My House (Essays) People say, as they get older their hearing is not what it used to be. I have found this to be true for myself. The older I get, and I plan to get as old as I can, the more I hear noises in the middle... [895 words] [Humor]
Be Happy, Join The Wednesday Worry Club (Essays) Of all the people who know me, no one would say I am afflicted with worryitis. They may say other things about me, which may or may not be true, but that's another story. [918 words] [Humor]
Dead-To-The-World Man Walking (Essays) One morning this week, I woke up with a black eye. How I got it still baffles me. I have my suspicions, of course, but some things are better left to themselves no matter how lonely they may get. [891 words] [Humor]
How To Cash In On Your ‘Ailment Capital' (Essays) Right after the president won his re-election bid for the White House, he made an interesting comment. He said he was going to spend his "political capital" wisely. At first, I did not understand wha... [926 words] [Humor]
If All Things Are Possible,” Why Can't I Balance My Checkbook? (Short Stories) For me, the most terrible time of each month is the day our bank statement comes. We commonly call it BSS (Bank Statement Syndrome). I don't know why it is, but I have trouble getting the parsonage ch... [904 words] [Humor]
In My House, If It's Broken I Bought It (Essays) Often a store has a sign with the warning, "You break it, you bought it." This is to keep people from carelessly handling the merchandise. I'm thinking of another sign, which should be posted all thr... [907 words] [Humor]
Malice In “I Wonder Who I Am” Land (Essays) For many years I maintained confidence in my personal identity. I knew exactly who I was and was quite comfortable in my skin. Although, I must confess my skin used to fit me better than it does these... [885 words]
Now That I'm Older, I'm Still Not Wiser (Essays) Now that summer is over and the children are back in school I found myself indulging in a little bit of retrospective thinking. It took some doing but I was able to think all the back to when I was a ... [883 words] [Humor]
Nurses, Bedpans And X-Rated Hospital Gowns (Essays) Tuesday last I awoke from my nightly slumber with terrific pain in my chest, much like an elephant break-dancing on my chest. It was painful just to breathe, but like the trooper I am, I shrugged it o... [923 words] [Humor]
The One Great Sermon That Got Away (Essays) Most people don't realize ministers are obligated to prepare and preach one great sermon in their career. In looking over my record of sermons, I noticed many "good" sermons, but an obvious lack in th... [886 words] [Humor]
Who Has The Greatest Job In The World? (Essays) I have, in my opinion, the world's perfect job. Just look at the evidence. I love people and I love God. I love talking to people about God and I love talking to God about people. Therefore, if you p... [963 words] [Humor]
‘And How Do We Feel This Morning?' (Essays) Without question, going to the hospital is teamwork from the time you arrive until you are wheeled out the front door. Everyone is working together for the common good of the patient, or at least a cr... [909 words] [Humor]
‘I'm Not A Christian, But I Play One On Sunday' (Essays) After more than three decades of church ministry, I have come to one unsettling conclusion. Actually, I've come to more than one conclusion, but this one is the most depressing. That conclusion is si... [890 words] [Humor]
Old Phil Propagated A Good Old Hoax
James Snyder

It began as all things begin n a long period of boredom with nothing exciting to do. Whoever said, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” knew something of what they were speaking.

As the story was told to me, it went something like this: It was toward the end of January, a long cold January at that. A group of groundhogs who were supposed to be hibernating were afflicted with a bad case of insomnia.

You know how it is. It has happened to you many times, I am sure. You are supposed to be asleep but sleep is the furthest thing from your eyeballs at the time. Because of the lack of sleep, reality becomes a fading commodity.

These bored groundhogs had tried everything to cure their insomnia but nothing seemed to work. Finally, an old groundhog who had been quiet up to this time loudly cleared his throat and gained the attention of the others.

“Friends,” he quietly began, “I’ve been thinking about something for a very long time. Perhaps now is the time to put this plan into action.”

Because nothing else seemed to capture the attention of the others, the old groundhog was given absolute attention. After all, what did they have to lose? There would be about six more weeks before spring and they had to stay underground all this time.

“My idea goes something like this,” the gruff old groundhog growled. There seems to be a sense of bitter sarcasm in his voice. “Let us put together a hoax on those humans who live above ground. They think they’re better than anybody, so let’s show them how superior we are.”

Everybody knew the old groundhog, called Phil by everybody, did not particularly like or respect those creatures walking on top of the ground. “What’s your idea?” everybody clamored.

Cautiously, old Phil examined his audience to make sure he had their complete confidence. “What we do is this, we tell those humans that whenever a groundhog sees his shadow it will mean six more weeks of winter.”

The pack of groundhogs exploded in laughter. When the laughter subsided, a young pup spoke up through tears of laughter, “Nobody is that dumb. That’s impossible to get anybody to believe anything so stupid.”

For the next 10 minutes, the room was filled with uncontrollable laughter. Old Phil leaned back and enjoyed the moment. He fully expected this kind of reaction. From his experience, he knew it was highly improbable that any groundhog would fall for anything as silly as this.

Finally, as the laughter subsided, another groundhog queried old Phil. “How do you propose to do such a thing?”

“Well,” old Phil began, “I’m sure that if we are bored down here, those above us are bored, as well. It’s been a long, cold winter with nothing to do between Christmas and Easter. These humans above us need something to do to break the monotony.”

The groundhogs got quiet and thoughtfully nodded in agreement with wise old Phil’s idea. The more they thought about it the more it began to make sense to them.

“All we have to do,” Phil explained, “is to tell these humans that on a particular day of the year if a groundhog emerges from his winter’s hole and happens to see his shadow it will be a sign of six more weeks of winter.”

A ripple of snickering flowed through the crowd of groundhogs but this time it was more of a conniving snicker. “But what day should we pick?” several of them chimed in.

“Well, it has to be sometime between Christmas and Easter.”

The crowd of groundhogs grew quiet as each one went over the calendar in his mind. After all, they realized how important calendars were to the humans who walked on the ground above.

“It has to be a day that’s not close to any other human holiday,” old Phil suggested.

After several suggestions were bantered about the room, someone recommended they vote on a day. Paper ballots were prepared and passed around to everyone with instructions to make only one choice. When the ballots were collected and counted the winning date was Feb. 2.

When the date was announced the room exploded with cheers and clapping. The first part of their hoax was firmly established. A sense of excitement ran through the crowd of groundhogs assuring that sleep would not visit them that night.

It is not quite clear how old Phil communicated this to the humans above. This part of the story is a closely kept secret. After all, groundhogs have their secrets as well as anybody else. All he would say was, “It was the easiest part of our plan.”

And so began one of the great rituals in the human calendar. Wise old Phil named it Groundhog Day. The name has stuck to this very day.

None of the groundhogs interviewed could believe their hoax would last so long, but all of them are delighted over the unprecedented success. This is why on Feb. 3 the underground world echoes with hardy snickering and sometimes uproarious laughter.

Thankfully, not everything is powered by superstition, fables or downright hoaxes. The apostle Paul warned against this. “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7 KJV.)

Following Christ is not a hoax but a holy discipline that leads to fulfillment and joy unspeakable and full of glory.

 

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE
© 2007 James Snyder
STORYMANIA PUBLICATION DATE
February 2007
NUMBER OF TIMES TITLE VIEWED
1102
 

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