Uncle imparts life skills

Russell Anglin

My family recently had the good fortune of visiting my great uncle, Eddie Manis, after six or seven years of living apart when he moved from Portales to California. Now he lives in Elida. Running into my long-lost uncle after all this time brought back lots of memories.

You see, Uncle Eddie is a pretty significant figure in my life. He gave me my first real guitar for my third or fourth birthday. He was also present at Clovis City Limits on Jan. 27, 1993, when Garth Brooks showed up unannounced and played a full set. Eddie had Garth and then-wife Sandy Brooks sign autographs for me, which my parents still have.

This was no small memento in my 4-year-old world as I was about as creepily obsessed with Garth Brooks’ music as the rest of middle America was at the time. I would sing his songs while wearing a cowboy hat and holding a guitar, pretending I was the entertainer of the year.

Eddie must have told Garth about this because his autograph read “Russell, hey pal, be yourself! God Bless, Garth Brooks.” Eddie gave it to me in a frame next to a picture of Garth. Needless to say, Eddie climbed a few slots on my list of favorite relatives that day.

Yes, of course I keep a list.

I learned Saturday night Eddie still has much to offer me, namely the methods behind his uncanny ability to attract interest and attention from girls. For the readers’ benefit, here is what I’ve learned I need to do so far.

• Dance: On Saturday, my family and I went to the Portales Senior Citizens Center Halloween dance where Gary Modrall, another of my great uncles, was playing guitar and singing with the band. Eddie, a 66-year-old single male who took up dancing years ago, had so many ladies ask him to dance that he could barely finish his coffee and Lit’l Smokies. Fancy stepping is a great way to meet people.

• Sew: Eddie, a former U.S. Air Force engineer, took up sewing in the last 15 years or so. He was wearing a button-up shirt at the dance Saturday with a stitched design he embroidered himself. He later told me stories about sewing outfits, printing shirts and hats, and altering wedding dresses for friends and acquaintances over the years. Everybody likes a useful person.

• Ingratiate: A little enthusiasm goes a long way, and Eddie’s extended, upper-register laughs can convince conversants of their cleverness. Before I knew it, the group at Eddie’s table Saturday night was ensnared with fits of repetitive laughter. Of course, Eddie already knew many of the dancegoers from his previous years in Portales, but it was clear that breaking ice is easy for him.

Naturally, my two-step more closely resembles a gallop than a dance and my skills with fabric are limited to folding socks, but I still believe one day I can claim some Manis charm for myself.

And now, so can you.

Russell Anglin is the senior reporter at the Quay County Sun. Contact him at: ranglin@qcsunonline.com