The roast of Dr. Eben Gilbert on Thursday night proved one thing – no one is safe from a little good-natured ribbing. He was honored at the second annual “It’s Roastin’ Time” by Boyd Christian School.
“I read in the paper a few weeks ago that it’s roasting time for Eben Gilbert,” said Paula King. “My first thought was it’s about time. How has he gotten away with this goodie two shoes, good guy, I’m-on-your-side attitude for so many years? Well, this charade is coming to an end. We are about to roast, toast, poach and stew Eben Gilbert.”
King was emcee and she took a few jabs of her own at Gilbert and his wife, Linda.
“I asked Linda her secret to 49 years of a happy marriage,” said King. “She replied, ‘We never go to bed angry and the longest we have ever been awake so far is five days.’ I actually asked Eben about their marriage, too. He said, ‘We battled but it never amounted to much because after a while, one of us always realized I was wrong.’”
After making a disclaimer the statements made about Gilbert that evening “may or may not be true, names may have been changed to protect the innocent, and no holds have been barred,” King introduced roasters Carol Chambers, Jeff McKinley, Chuck Mullican, Wally McClarren and Tim Pirtle.
The biggest laughs of the evening went to McKinley, who held nothing back.
“I’m not saying Eben was unwanted as a child,” said McKinley. “However, when he started school, his mother told him that if a strange man offers you candy, get in his car and go with him. Once, Eben ran away from home and his mom sent out word that if he didn’t come back all would be forgiven. Eben has a wonderful, unmistaken, unusual voice. It reminds me of Walter Cronkite, with a head cold.”
McKinley remembers meeting Gilbert for the first time.
“I remember the first time I met Eben. I’m in therapy for that now,” said McKinley. “Last year, we recognized Nestor Stewart, who looked like a famous movie star: Mr. Fredricksen from the animated movie ‘Up.’ Eben has a double, as well. Most of you know the comedian ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. He has a character that greatly resembles Eben.”
Walter the puppet is a retired, grumpy old man with arms always crossed in discontent. He has a brash, negative and often sarcastic view of today’s world and his sour-faced appearance conveys that stance.
While looking at a picture of Walter on a screen, McKinley added, “If you have ever sat in a meeting with Eben, you will recognize that’s the pose that happens right before he falls to sleep. Other than appearance, Eben doesn’t have anything in common with Walter. After all, Walter is just a dummy that has someone else pulling his strings and Eben … Well, maybe they have more in common than I thought. They are both saving money on shampoo. Walter has a tattoo on the back of his head that says ‘Made in China’ and Eben has one on the back of his head that says, ‘This space for rent.’”
McKinley took clever shots at Gilbert’s intelligence too.
“Eben is a very intelligent man, even though his last IQ test came back negative,” said McKinley. “He’s been described as open-minded, which is a very polite way of saying empty headed. He’s not intellectually challenged, as long as you don’t ask him to spell intellectually challenged. He’s a lot like me. He thinks it’s a sign of intelligence to be able to spell a word more than one way. For that, he’s a genius. Just last week, he told me he changed his mind. Between you and me, I hope this one is better than the last one. His son is a great inventor. Eben invented something once. It died from loneliness.”
Gilbert’s years as a counselor were next for McKinley.
“As you know, Eben is a counselor. It’s obvious that he does not suffer from a split personality. If he did, why would he use this one? He did have a handle on insanity. It’s broken. He really doesn’t have any bad habits. However, he did try to sniff coke once. The ice cube got stuck in his nose. It gave a whole new meaning to brain freeze. The only bad habit he has is breathing and it appears you are working on that one.”
Gilbert recently suffered through a bout of pneumonia. McKinley held nothing back.
“I really shouldn’t poke fun at Eben. He was in the hospital for pneumonia not too long ago. He just hasn’t been himself lately. Have any of you noticed the improvement? The last time he went for a physical, they didn’t ask for his birthdate. They carbon dated him. The doctor told him he had to have a urine test. Eben went home and studied.
“He has slowed down a little bit. If you have ever walked behind him, he is as slow as a herd of turtles – stampeding through peanut butter. He has slowed down so much and has become so boring that sheep count him. One Eben, two Eben, three Eben.”
“He’s not as handy as he used to be. He can’t fix the brakes on his car anymore, so he just makes his horn louder. He can’t hear it anyway. He’s afraid no one will remember him when he’s gone. I can think of several reasons why he’ll be remembered. He won’t like any of them, but I can think of them. He used to be a pain in the neck, but I have a much lower opinion of him now. He’s a man that has the grace of a swan, the wisdom of an owl and the eye of an eagle. This man is for the birds. I want you to know, Eben, if you ever need a friend, I would be happy to find you one.”
“It’s Roastin’ Time” is a fundraiser for Boyd Christian School. It was held at Central Church of Christ in McMinnville.