JL Strickland – LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Sun, 17 Feb 2019 15:51:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 https://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png JL Strickland – LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com 32 32 When Holding Your Nose is not Enough https://likethedew.com/2017/12/26/when-holding-your-nose-is-not-enough/ https://likethedew.com/2017/12/26/when-holding-your-nose-is-not-enough/#comments Tue, 26 Dec 2017 20:15:45 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=68513

 

My new friend Dr. Jim Vickery is completing the final edit on a book about the old B-movie Western films. A tome to which I made an infinitesimal contribution. Unfortunately, I neglected to add my most unusual picture-show story; I still don’t understand how I could have forgotten such a warm, abiding memory.

It transpired thusly:

When I was growing up on the Fairfax (Alabama) Mill Village, there was family living several houses down from us on Combs Street. The family consisted of a red-haired mother and father and a houseful of red-headed young’uns. They ranged from Hoyt, the oldest, three years my senior, to several children my age and younger.

Hoyt, a roly-poly lad, was about as big around as he was tall and freckled as a butterbean; but his appearance was not Hoyt’s most striking characteristic. No, Hoyt’s feet set him apart from mere mortals: specifically, he had the most awful-smelling feet on the North American Continent, if not the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Lethal. But, he was a cheerful, happy-go-lucky sort, who ignored the insults and jibes about his stinking feet.

However, Hoyt, not dumb by a long shot, but in fact, pretty clever – or at least possessing a low-animal cunning, used his odiferous feet to good advantage. When the Combs Street gang went to the picture show, almost daily, we walked in a boisterous herd and usually sat in a rowdy group.

But, if we didn’t leave soon enough and the theater was full, there would not be enough empty seats for us to sit together. The village picture show was really popular back in the pre-TV, computer and cellular-phone days.

No Problem. Hoyt, used to making do, would scan the theater until he spotted a vacant seat. Then he would quickly sit down, remove his shoes and shocks, and crossing his legs yoga fashion, shake his feet and wiggle his toes to unleash the full poisonous power of his reeking feet on those seated near him.

Naturally, people. gagging, eyes watering, and cursing the vile fumes, fled from Hoyt’s pungent feet. Whereupon, Hoyt, grinning, would stand victoriously and wave us all down from where we were waiting at the back of the picture show. After we we were all seated, Hoyt would put on his shoes and socks. If he hadn’t we couldn’t have sat that near him.

It never failed. I knew I would have a seat if Hoyt was along to work his never-failing magic, which was nothing less than a satanic, natural, overpowering mojo.

Hoyt dropped out of school at 17 and joined the Army. He served 20 years. I’m sure he started washing his feet. Otherwise, the other recruits couldn’t have slept in the barracks with Hoyt if he pulled off his boots and socks.

And I’m sure it would have violated the Geneva Convention to force a soldier to share a foxhole with Hoyt. The Geneva, Alabama, convention if not the more famous agreement.

I used to tell my buddies that Army Intelligence could use Hoyt to make captured war prisoners spill all their secrets. All they would have to do is sit the hapless enemy down handcuffed and shackled with a barefooted Hoyt seated before them wiggling his naked toes in their face. No human alive could tolerate that torture.

Dat boy’s foots wuz deadly! In the vernacular of the old days, “They could knock a hungry buzzard off a gut wagon.”

(Actually, I shouldn’t be making fun of Hoyt. After he retired from the Army, he moved back to the Valley with his fast-talking Yankee wife; who, while possibly. lacking a sense of smell, evidently, didn’t cotton to cotton-mill villages. She soon deserted Hoyt and lit out for the territories.

Not long afterward, Hoyt committed suicide by shooting himself with a gun, according to reports. But, I really don’t know if he shot himself with a firearm, or accidentally got a deadly whiff of his own feet. Either weapon would do the trick.)

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Barbecue and Patriotism Both Have a Price https://likethedew.com/2017/07/03/barbecue-and-patriotism-both-have-a-price/ https://likethedew.com/2017/07/03/barbecue-and-patriotism-both-have-a-price/#respond Mon, 03 Jul 2017 13:01:50 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=67514

Uncle Sam

On the Fourth of July, we naturally think of Uncle Sam, our nation’s favorite icon. While I try to keep a positive attitude about Uncle Sam in July, I can’t forget the day the old man hurt my feelings in October.

Let me explain:

Back in the day, Fairfax (AL) Cotton Mill chartered a bus to take the mill-village Boy Scouts to the Southeastern Fair in Atlanta. As a proud member of Fairfax Troop 10, I was thrilled at the prospect of such a magical journey. Going to the Southeastern Fair was like a trip to Mars. Atlanta was a heap farther away back then than it is now.

So, early one glorious Saturday morning in October, we piled on the bus and headed up Highway 29, giddy with anticipation. Unfortunately, the fun came to a rattling halt when the bus, as if preordained, broke down in Newnan, Ga., right in front of the legendary Sprayberry’s barbecue joint. Sprayberry’s is to many barbecue aficionados what Mecca is to devout Muslims.

With all the boys helping, aided by some motorists who stopped to assist, we managed to push the stalled bus into Sprayberry’s parking lot. It wasn’t easy.

The parking lot was empty that early, but Sprayberry’s barbecue pit was already in high gear. Not only was the pit in high gear, as country boys used to say, they had it down in grandmaw! After admonishing us not to leave the bus, our scoutmaster left us milling about and waiting while he went inside and phoned home for help.

But, when the beguiling, heavenly aroma of barbecue wafted over us, we stormed into the restaurant in a feeding frenzy, and started buying sandwiches, and Brunswick stew. And fried apple pies. And we went in again and again. Sprayberry’s barbecue was more addictive than crack cocaine.

This was in the early Fifties and the Chattahoochee Valley cotton mills were on short time. While Boy Scouts wearing uniforms got into the fair free, none of us had much spending money. By the time another bus arrived to rescue us, four hours later, we were all broke; but packed full of Sprayberry’s delicacies. Because of the long delay, we arrived at the fair only two hours before we were scheduled to return home.

Little matter. We didn’t have money left for the rides anyway. We could only mope around for the short time we had, looking at the free exhibits, feeling pangs of buyer’s remorse for splurging on barbecue. Then, as we were about to leave, an epiphany: A bearded man on stilts, dressed as Uncle Sam, was selling copies of the Declaration of Independence to passersby near the gate. He was carrying the copies in an American flag-colored bag.

I quickly ask to see one of the copies and he handed it down to me. The stilts made him look ten feet tall. The document looked like the real Declaration of Independence, with parchment-type paper, and that old-timey curlicue lettering. I had to have a copy. I excitedly asked Uncle Sam how much they cost? Peering down at me from his lofty height, he said they didn’t have a set price; they cost whatever I could afford to pay.

He added dramatically, “Every American should have a copy of the Declaration of Independence.”

I was in luck! I gave him all the money I had – one lonely, solitary quarter. After examining the quarter like he had never seen a silver coin before, Uncle Sam frowned at me like I had just shot Abe Lincoln. Then he leaned over, snatched my copy of the Declaration of Independence out of my hand, and flipped the quarter on the ground at my feet.

Drawing himself up to his full height, he shouted, “Look, hicker-nut head – you can’t buy no bloomin’ copy of the Declaration of Independence for no durn quarter!”

In a huff, Uncle Sam stuffed the copy back into his bag and stalked off through the crowd, leaving me stunned. And more than a tad mortified. I could not believe that Uncle Sam would use that abusive language and tone of voice with a Boy Scout of America, who was in full dress uniform, including a sash almost full of merit badges. Not only did I play the bugle at assemblies, I usually led the Pledge of Allegiance, for gosh sakes! Our here our country’s beloved, avuncular mascot had abused me in front of God and man and left me shaken.

I learned a valuable civics/life lesson that day. You can buy a copy of the Declaration of Independence or you can buy a bellyful of Sprayberry’s barbecue. You can’t do both. But as traumatic as this incident was, it could have been much worse. It could have happened on the Fourth of July. Then it would have been like Jesus – in full view of everybody – giving you a wedgie at Bible school.

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Daddy and the Sweet Old Lady’s Apoplectic Fit https://likethedew.com/2017/06/16/daddy-and-the-sweet-old-ladys-apoplectic-fit/ https://likethedew.com/2017/06/16/daddy-and-the-sweet-old-ladys-apoplectic-fit/#respond Fri, 16 Jun 2017 11:21:42 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=67376

Wooden toy snake by David Poole

I was never exactly sure whether my father, Bill Strickland, was an amateur adult or a professional adolescent. Here is just one of the many incidents that led to my confusion.

The Pledgers, Bryant and Erma, a middle age childless couple, were our next door neighbors in Fairfax, an east Alabama mill village, when I was growing up. Mr. Bryant operated the Sinclair Service Station at the cotton-mill village crossroads, which also served as the bus station. Miss Erma ran the cash register and kept the books.

The Pledgers were great people. Mr. Bryant was a tall, raw-boned laid- back fellow, leather-skinned from his years in the sun. He always wore a green-khaki Sinclair uniform with the military-style cap. Miss Erma was a petite, friendly, neat little woman who kept a permanent in her short salt and pepper hair and wore sweaters and knitted collars on her dress. When she hugged me, and she always did, there would be a pleasant scent of lavender about her.

Miss Erma opened the station up at five in the morning with her husband, but would come home around three to start his supper. She did not drive so one of the station pump jockeys would chauffeur her home in the Pledger’s ancient Ford Model T. This was usually a mill hand who worked at the filling station part time. More than a few lintheads augmented their mill income at Pledger’s.

When Miss Erma left at three to cook supper, they usually had a high-school girl who came in to run the register.

They must have had four or five employees, including the part time folks. Mr. Bryant also did tune-ups and would pick up cars to wash and change the oil and return them to the mill parking lot, or to the owner’s home. He had a good business.

Pledger’s was a busy place, and was also a mill-village hangout. From opening to closing time, there was usually a gang of loafers sitting about the station, crowding the glowing pot-bellied heater in the winter or enjoying the breeze through the open double doors in the summer. Most were having a mill-hand’s snack of a Coke, cheese crackers and a Stanback.

photo of Bill-Strickland and young JL
Most of my old pictures were lost during a house fire years ago. This photo is one of the few remaining, was taken of my father, Bill, and me about the time he nearly ‘bout caused Miss Erma to have a bowel movement with the wooden snake. If I remember correctly, we were standing on the old one-lane bridge across the Little Tallapoosa River. Shortly after this snapshot, he dangled me by my ankles over the bridge railing, threatening to drop me into the cold water. Even more terrifying because I couldn’t swim. Neither could he. That was his way of showing his love for me.

So during this time, I had bought another of my favorite ten-cent store items, a toy wooden snake. These cheap wooden snakes, popular with boys back in the day, were painted green, and actually consisted of carved segments of wood that were strung on a string like beads. By manipulating your wrist just so, the snake would wiggle, flick its red felt tongue, and move like a living serpent. Upon closer inspection, it was easy to see that the snake was fake, but for a few seconds, it would startle folks. Especially people who were horrified of snakes anyway.

The wooden snake usually lasted until the string broke and all the segments fell apart, just like a cheap broken necklace.

Anyway, I had squandered my ten- year- old’s meager allowance and bought yet another of these wooden snakes at Keith’s dime store and was practicing my moves with it as we drove over to Pledger’s one cold December morning. When we got to the filling station, Daddy took the snake from me and put it in his coat pocket, saying he was going to “have some fun with it.”

(Things had been somewhat strained between us and the Pledgers for a few days. When their employee recently brought Miss Erma home at three one afternoon, as the fellow turned the car around, he backed over my dog and killed it. It was all an accident, but I was upset and so was Miss Erma; she and Mr. Pledger couldn’t stop apologizing. They even offered to pay me for the dog, but Daddy refused to take the money. )

So, we headed into to the crowded station that morning and got us a Coke from the chest type cooler and a pack of Tom’s crackers from the glass jar. When Miss Erma reached out to take Daddy’s money at the register, instead of money, Daddy laid the wooden snake in her delicate, little hand. As it turned out, Miss Erma had a deep-seated phobia of snakes, real or fake. She let out a hideous scream that could be heard at least a mile and probably over the sound of the thundering looms in the nearby Fairfax weave shed; an ungodly shriek from so small a person.

Miss Erma’s body went stiff like she was having a seizure and she fell backwards, crashing into the shelves behind her and collapsing, unconscious, on the concrete floor. Her head hit the floor with a dull, sickening thud.

Everybody in the station gasped and jumped up. Mr. Pledger had been at the edge of the room opening cardboard boxes of oil with his pocket knife and stacking them on the shelves. Dropping the knife, he ran to see what had happened to his wife. Unfortunately, he tripped over another unopened box of oil cans, and stumbled into the counter where the cash register sat, striking the corner of the counter with his head, flipping his cap off, laying open his scalp, buckling his knees, and knocking him out, momentarily.

This all happened in just a matter of seconds. One minute Daddy was standing there grinning like a fool, shaking that fake snake at Miss Erma, and the next second, there were two twitching bodies, both Pledgers, unconscious on the floor. It was surreal.

Mr. Pledger was soon on his feet and, with blood pouring from his head wound, helped Miss Erma up. She was shaking violently and sobbing uncontrollably. I had never, before or since, witnessed a human-being so distraught. Completely undone.

Mr. Pledger explained that his wife had a horror of snakes and would go apoplectic when she saw one – real or fake.

Daddy was really taken aback. He tried to apologize to Miss Erma by sticking the snake in her face to show her that it was fake. When she saw the snake again, just inches from her nose, Mrs. Erma let out another pitiful moan and her terrified eyes rolled back in her head for the second time.

“Bill, put away that goddamn snake!” Mr. Pledger roared at Daddy. It was the only time I ever remember hearing the soft-spoken Mr. Pledger raise his voice, much less using cuss words. He was really riled up.

Mr. Pledger scooped up Miss Erma in his arms, like she might have been a child, and hurried a few doors down to the village doctor’s office. We didn’t tarry long before leaving the station.

It seemed like a good time to go. On our way out the door, a fellow behind us said hoarsely, “Damn, Bill…”

Neither Daddy nor I turned around to see who the commentator might have been.

This was during the holiday doldrums between Christmas and New Year’s, so we were at home in our three-room mill house a few hours later when I heard the Pledger’s T-Model chug into their yard. Daddy and I ran to the window to see if was them. When Mr. Pledger got out of the car, he wasn’t wearing his hat. Instead, his bald head was bandaged where Dr. Hunt had sewn up the nasty gash where Mr. Bryant had hit the counter.

Slowly, tenderly, Mr. Bryant eased Miss Erma across the yard. His big right arm was wrapped around her, his huge gnarled paw was holding her dainty left hand. She was leaning against him and seemed too weak to stand by herself. Her eyes were closed. Her lips were moving, but no audible words were coming out.

As they disappeared into their house, Daddy, with an irritated tone in his voice, said, “I guess now they’re both pissed off at us.”

Before I could ask where he got that “us” business, he added, “Well, we’ll just look at this way – we’re all even now for them killing your dog. Tit for tat, I god.”

The fact that that it was the Pledger’s hired help who ran over my dog, and not them, didn’t enter into Daddy’s thinking. His logic was always as flexible as a jointed toy wooden snake. It could bend to fit the situation. And, like a toy wooden snake, his conclusions could be convincing if not examined too closely.

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Everybody Has a Story https://likethedew.com/2017/06/05/everybody-has-a-story/ https://likethedew.com/2017/06/05/everybody-has-a-story/#comments Mon, 05 Jun 2017 10:22:40 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=67332

Everyone Has A Story

Have you noticed that if you listen to people, everybody has a story? Even people who don’t realize they have one.

I’m sure you have.

Recently, an older acquaintance and I were talking about my early teenage years when I was often called upon to put on my Boy Scout uniform and play the bugle call “Taps” for area military funerals. Somehow, the conversation drifted to the death of his favorite uncle. This uncle, a gentle, beloved soul, had grown up in the Depression, was a combat soldier in WWII, and spent the rest of his life as a rural Methodist minister, embracing his quiet strong faith, taking care of his family, being a good neighbor, and being a good uncle.

Other than these things, his faith and his family and neighbors, his uncle’s strongest love was for fox hunting, a joy he had learned at his father’s knee. He and his cronies would loose their dogs at sundown, build a fire, put on a pot of coffee, and sit and talk under the starry sky, while listening to the raucous baying fox hounds filling the moonlit woods with their primeval music.

When the hunt was over, his uncle, as the unquestioned leader of this assembly, would stand and slowly place his old handmade hunter’s horn to his lips; the same horn that had been used by his father and grandfather over countless years before him. The fields and forests would immediately be filled with the gentle, yet insistent sound of the ancient instrument – a call of such beguiling melancholy, yet joyful beckoning that neither man nor canine could resist the soulful summons.

When the uncle passed away a while back, their being a childless couple, his wife asked a favorite nephew who had often accompanied his uncle on fox hunts, if he would please sound his uncle’s hunting horn at the funeral. While the young man could blow the horn, he didn’t really want to play it at a public ceremony; but out of respect for his uncle, agreed to do so.

The funeral, delayed for a while because, of all things, the hearse broke down, was held late on a glorious fall day, at a remote wooded cemetery adjoining a picturesque country church yard; a veritable church in the rolling Appalachian wildwood.

When the time came, the chosen nephew, a shy, retiring fellow, moved away from the mourners and took his position at the edge of the thick tree line. The cobalt sky still held its fading light, but the forest was growing dark. Lifting his uncle’s horn to his lips, the nephew sounded the instrument three times, each note increasing in volume until he sat down on the final glorious report, bringing forth a traditional mighty blast that echoed through the cool of the Alabama highlands. The going home call for a fox hunter.

My pal said he had never had anything at a funeral affect him like hearing his uncle’s old horn, echoing away through the hills in the fading light. He said he had felt an overpowering feeling of both sad farewell entwined with the wordless joy of homecoming. Normally a taciturn, stoic fellow, and nowhere near being a strong-believer, he said tears filled his eyes and he began quietly sobbing when the last horn note faded away into the coming twilight and a woman behind him said quietly, “He’s homeward bound.”

I reckon so. I wasn’t there and just hearing him tell about it took my breath away and weakened my knees. We need out hearts touched from time to time, just to make sure we’re still adequately human. My friend’s thoughtful retelling instantly brought the snatches of that old poem to mind: “Home is the hunter, home from the hill, the sailor home from the sea….”

Though many honestly feel there is much evidence to the contrary, moments like this make it hard not to believe we indeed have a soul, a spirit, a something we cannot yet name.

But I was always a sucker for bugle calls.

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Do Peking Ducks Know Their Name Has Been Changed? https://likethedew.com/2016/09/07/do-peking-ducks-know-their-name-has-been-changed/ https://likethedew.com/2016/09/07/do-peking-ducks-know-their-name-has-been-changed/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:23:07 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64927

Spinning GlobeWhen I was growing up, the Chinese capital was pronounced “PEE-king.” There was no latitude in the pronunciation of this word. It was not POO-king nor PIE-king. It was PEE-king.

To deliberately say the word otherwise would be risking a paddle swatted against your rump for cutting up or being a pest in class.

Then a few years ago, I noticed newscasters and politicians saying “BAY-sheeng,” instead of the well-worn, polished word implanted in my vocabulary. They would have a sneaky look on their faces like they were putting one over on us.

They would smirk into the camera and say it with strong emphasis on the first syllable — “BAY-sheeng,” all superior and smug; like they were schooling a slow student by example.

Ted Koppel would stretch the word out like he was pulling taffy, “BAAAYYYY-SHEEEEEENG!” Letting it get up all in his adenoids and sinus cavities. “Listen up you dummies – this is the way to say it now. Peking has been pimped.”

Obviously, they were showing off, thinking they knew something the rest of us didn’t. They were right about one thing — we didn’t know what they were talking about. Bayshing? Where the heck is that? Is that a place or a skin rash?

It’s gotten worse. Lately, I’ve noticed some broadcasters and politicians saying “POCKY-stan” for Pakistan.” Even President Obama has taken it up. POCKY-stan – get used to it. Pocky, pocky, pocky. Sounds like Walter Mitty’s description of a Model T’s engine noise.

POCKY-stan is gaining a foothold in the culture faster than kudzu on an abandoned Dixie farm. It is spreading through the cable channels like a strep-throat through a kindergarten.

Who can say whether Mr. B.H. Obama deliberately embraced the updated pronunciation or it was merely a smudge on his TelePrompTer? All that matters now is that the lapels on POCKY-stan’s jacket have been permanently altered.

POCKY-stan is now parting its hair on the other side.

Nobody ever sends out a memo about these word changes. The language elites and narcissists among us take up the new fad word and the rest of us, eternally fearful that we won’t be relevant and cool, will eagerly stick the new word in our mouths.

Monkey hear, monkey say. “It’s pronounced POCKY-stan? OMG! I had no idea! I hope nobody noticed!” If it doesn’t taste good at first, we keep chewing away praying we’ll get used to the sour flavor.

(I have a simple explanation of why the Kennedy’s pronunciation of Cuba — CUE-burr –never caught on: Nobody else said CUE-burr because they didn’t want to sound like a GOO-burr.)

What gives with these snobby word pronunciations? Are they just trying to make average Americans feel ignorant? And worry that our language skills have deteriorated along with our sex appeal and our earning power and our ability to elect a functioning government?

(It was horrible when they tried to shove that new goofy pronunciation of Nicaragua down our throats. Thank God that fad was rejected by Americans faster than Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. It was hard to keep a straight face when a slicked-down talking head said “Knee-hoo- rah-wah.”

You couldn’t tell if he was saying the name of the country or needed a Heimlich maneuver.)

But, my hat is off to the Tea Party for showing us the correct path. They don’t seem to fall for foolish fads like changing the way words are pronounced. They don’t even put a lot of thought to the correct spelling of the old words.

Morons will have to be happy being called “morans.” It’s not that big of a change. Deal with it. I’ve been called worse. Much worse.

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Duddy’s Permanent Record https://likethedew.com/2016/08/24/duddys-permanent-record/ https://likethedew.com/2016/08/24/duddys-permanent-record/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:49:55 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64784

Vintage-High-School-GraduationDudley Snodgrass, called “Duddy” was a very intelligent boy. He learned to talk and walk at a young age, and in school his grades were perfect. His mother adored him, his teachers were constantly bragging on him. The other kids called him “Einstein” and “Brain” and some secretly resented him. Some not so secretly.

Painful, crippling shyness was the only chink in Duddy’s armor. When called on in class, he would turn beet red and stammer a stuttering answer. He would get physically ill when he had to stand before the class and give a book report. Not only was Duddy a shrinking violet, in his dreams, he yearned for the ability to turn invisible.

When Duddy was chosen to be valedictorian of his high school graduating class, he was horrified. He begged and pleaded with the principal and the advisors to let him off the hook. Duddy got really pitiful, to no avail.

The school officials pooh-poohed his concern and insisted that Duddy take the honor, which they insisted, would be a glowing jewel on the boy’s “permanent record.” His few friends insisted that he take the honor. His parents insisted he take the honor.

So, Duddy screwed up his courage and wrote a speech for the graduation ceremony. Like all Duddy’s efforts, the speech was magnificent. After reading the speech to his principal beforehand, the old man removed his glasses and stared at Duddy. “This is the best valedictory speech I’ve ever read,” the ancient, rumpled Mr. Jones said in awe, dabbing at his teary eyes with his wrinkled handkerchief.

Graduation night finally came. With entertainment of any kind being at a premium, everybody in the small town was at the high school auditorium. It was standing room only. Finally, the principal introduced Dudley Snodgrass to great applause. Duddy, legs trembling, heart pounding, rose red-faced and lurched to the lectern. He couldn’t feel his feet on the floor. He felt as light as a helium-filled balloon. He feared he might float to the rafters, immune to the laws of gravity.

Duddy stood there paralyzed by the crushing wave of all the staring faces looking back at him. Eyes filled his field of vision like stars on a starry night. Sinister, evil stars. They were everywhere. His throat and lips were so dry his tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth. His hands were shaking so badly he dropped his speech and the pages, caught by a draft, fluttered across the floor. There were muffled snickers and laughter.

Duddy quickly began gathering the pages off the floor. As he bent over, a loud, trombone-like fart blasted from his rectum. And then, to Dudley’s horror, he let another involuntary fart, even louder; and then, horror of horrors, Duddy had a violent, audible bowel movement in his pants. The stench that quickly filled the auditorium left no doubt as to what had just transpired. Mortified, Duddy fled from the stage midst the jeers and hoots and pointing fingers.

Duddy ran across the village still wearing his graduation cap and gown. By the time his parents got home, Dudley had taken a quick shower, changed clothes, packed a bag and hauled ass out of town. He left his mother a hurriedly scribbled note that she would never see him anymore because he planned to drop off the face of the earth. He could never show his face in that town again. It was goodbye forever.

A trucker picked up Duddy hitchhiking on the Interstate, and by morning he was far, far away. He wandered until he found a big city where he felt no one would know him. He got a job at a fast-food restaurant and rented a small room. But, in time, his intellectual curiosity got the better of him and he started college at night. As usual, Duddy aced his courses.

The years passed and Duddy gradually forgot the embarrassment of that stinky, shitty graduation night. He started his own business and became a very wealthy man. Early in his career, Duddy started using his middle name, D. Joseph Snodgrass, lest somebody from his old home town recognize the name. Duddy Snodgrass was no more.

When Duddy was 70, he sold his company and retired. He had everything a man could want, riches, acclaim, and a beautiful trophy wife who worshiped him. But there was a restlessness in his soul. Unfinished business. He wanted to see his old home town again before he died. The more he thought about it, the stronger the urge became. Surely, after all these years, there will be nobody there who remembers me, Duddy thought.

Finally, just as he had over a half-century before, he struck out in the night, only this time he was in his Mercedes headed back toward his old home town. He left his wife a note, telling her there was something he had to do and he would explain later.

Two days later, the sleek Mercedes rolled into the still-sleeping town at dawn. Few lights were on. Duddy drove slowly up and down the dark streets as memories flooded over him. A twinge of the old panic grabbed his gut when he passed the high school. “Calm down, he told himself. Nobody here remembers you now. Duddy Snodgrass means nothing to these people anymore. Nothing.“

As Duddy drove through the town square, he noticed the lights on in a small corner café. He hesitated for a moment, but decided to go in and get some breakfast. Except for the owner and a cook in the back – and the welcoming aroma of fresh morning coffee – the café was empty. Duddy sat at the counter and sipped his coffee while waiting on his ham and eggs. The café’s owner leaned against the counter while reading his morning paper.

Just making conversation, Duddy asked the owner if he were a native of the town. The fellow lowered his newspaper and said, “Sure am. I’ve lived here every day of my 52 years.”

Duddy said, “Fifty-two years? That’s amazing. I took you for a much younger person. You don’t look anywhere near that old.”

The fellow replied, “I may not look it, but I’m fifty-two all right – I was born the same night Duddy Snodgrass shit in his britches!”

Save

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America’s Savior is A. Tad Semple https://likethedew.com/2016/06/21/americas-savior-is-a-tad-semple/ https://likethedew.com/2016/06/21/americas-savior-is-a-tad-semple/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 11:25:29 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64286

“Yes We Canada” from AmericaButBetter.comMy brother and sister Americans, let me introduce myself: my name is Arturo Tad Semple. Fearing someone might think I liked longhair classical music, or read books, or attended foreign movies, or watched PBS, or was born in Italy or France, or god forbid, Kenya, I dropped the “Arturo” years ago in favor of just a simple, less confusing “A.” I hope this information makes it easier to understand why I am known as A. Tad Semple.

I prefer it that way. It is an unique name and is easy to remember. And it fits me.

My grandmother always told me that what is sauce for the goose is batter for the rooster, and I am hereby revealing my plan to jump into the popping hot grease of the nation’s political skillet and announce my candidacy for the presidency of the United States — or “Newnited” States if you listen to Reverend Jimmy Swaggart. And who doesn’t?

Let me say up front that I don’t believe in anything that Franklin D. Roosevelt ever did as president; and I don’t believe in light beer, low-calorie cheese, global warming, songs that can’t be sung by a three-year old child, taxing rich people, Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, Medicaid, Ralph Nader, Pell grants, Michael Moore, gay puppets on TV, unemployment benefits, or remakes of John Wayne movies. Not necessarily in that order.

Speaking of movies, there damn sho’ don’t need to be all that cussin’ in movies. To a real god-fearing American there is no more sacred place than the picture show.

In fact when I’m elected, I guarantee you that the polio treatment center that FDR created at Warm Springs, Georgia, will be torn down and replaced with a bank, or a Wall Street southern annex; or at least a pay-day loan company. Something that serves the common good.

Ill health is a a punishment from God. Those struck with physical afflictions are supposed to suffer. Roosevelt interfered with God’s plan.
Or the Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, as it’s called now, could be used as a holding pen for illegal aliens while they’re are waiting to be deported to Mexico, regardless of their country of origin. Roosevelt’s fascist hospital, which is nothing but a temple to communist, liberal, socialist lunacy, like every other satanic thing ol’ Frank forced on unwitting Americans, cannot stand! It is a choking stench in Uncle Sam’s nostrils.

To prevent any doubt of where I stand on the environment, let me say upfront that I believe global warming is a monumental hoax created by Al Gore and his nerdy friends. Al and his effete bunch are still angry because Al didn’t get to be president just because he won the election, as if that were a valid reason. And they came up with this global warming crap to get even. What a bunch of semi-gay sorehead whiners!

Isn’t it about time the lefties stopped crowing about Bill Clinton balancing the budget and leaving a surplus in the treasury? Obviously, Slick Willie didn’t leave enough surplus or it wouldn’t have disappeared so quickly. That alleged surplus disappeared before Dubya Bush got his second war started. Luckily, he did get the taxes cut on all his struggling millionaire and billionaire friends. Whew! That was a close one.
There’s nothing worse than having a used yacht tied up at your dock when all your friends have a new boat.

Everyone knows that Clinton was probably lying about that surplus – he was lying about everything else. He even went on television and confessed that he lied about dallying with that pudgy girl. You’ll never hear a conservative admit that he did anything wrong. Never! A true conservative regards telling the truth as a character flaw.

As a true conservative, I’ve outgrown the Tea Party and am now affiliated with the Neo-Flat Earth Society, or the NFES, also known as the Neefies. As the first Neefy elected to the presidency, A. Tad Semple promises to remove the teaching of evolution from the schools, not to mention the teaching of ovulation. Nobody needs to hear that stuff in mixed company. Our nether regions get enough attention as it is.
Moreover, I will go farther than that. I promise to remove the teaching of photosynthesis from science classes. Photosynthesis never made a lick of sense to me. I don’t believe a word of it. I’ll never believe a common weed is capable of a feat that is beyond the expertise of Monsanto or even the NASCAR Petty Racing Team.

But, my main goal is to eliminate free school lunches for poor kids. This outrage has gone on long enough. Those of us who attend $35,000 a plate political dinners know there is no such thing as a free lunch. A underprivileged child can’t learn this valuable lesson in reality soon enough. Coddling them makes them weak.

It’s high time Maw Maw and Paw Paw got off the Social Security gravy train. They can get off their wrinkled butts and go to work. I don’t want to hear that guff about all the jobs being sent to China and Pakistan, neither. There are boats leaving every day headed that way. They can get on one.

There is an answer to our nation’s problems. And it is A. Tad Semple.

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If You Think There’s Nothing New Under The Sun, You Haven’t Looked In The Right Place https://likethedew.com/2016/06/06/if-you-think-theres-nothing-new-under-the-sun-you-havent-looked-in-the-right-place/ https://likethedew.com/2016/06/06/if-you-think-theres-nothing-new-under-the-sun-you-havent-looked-in-the-right-place/#respond Mon, 06 Jun 2016 11:21:20 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64202

As if I needed any further proof that I spend too much time on the Internet, I ran across an alarming article that describes a new fad – anus bleaching – which is popular among some rich, vain, mostly Hollywood women. And, no doubt, probably more than a few men.

(I won’t say what I was looking for when I found this outlandish website. That information is on a need-to-know basis.)

As incredible as this may sound, it seems that some spoiled, egocentric females are having their anuses bleached to match the paler tones of their pampered skin.

Geordie Shore’s video on bum bleaching
From series 6 of Geordie Shore – watch on Vimeo, (caution on the language)

You read that correctly. Despite pitiful third-world children still starving by the millions, some vain American ladies pay thousands of dollars to their analogist – or whatever they call themselves — to apply strong chemicals to said woman’s nether regions to lighten the dark skin around her rectolium.

Now, I’ve heard of women who were embarrassed by dark circles under their eyes. But what sort of prima donna narcissist is worried about her dark doody exit? And how did she even know it was darker than the rest of her body?

(I’ve known some vain people who would sneak glimpses of themselves in the mirror or a store front window, but this is ridiculous.)

While I don’t recall the exact verse in the Book of Revelations that says women bleaching their rectums is a sign of the Apocalypse, I’m sure it’s in there somewhere. If it’s not, it oughta be.

And if past experience is any indication, this pale anus fad will soon spread across the nation, hot on the heels of fake boobs, tattoos and metal studs through the tongue and other sensitive areas.

Women who spend a fortune on tanning beds or spray-on tans, will start spending even more money to have their anuses lightened. Just the modern version of “keeping up with the Joneses” – if that fabled family of upward mobility standard bearers now have fetching assholes.

Women in Frogeye, Alabama, and Box Springs, Georgia, will soon be horrified to learn that their bunghole is not up to date. No doubt, there will soon be a cell phone app that will determine if a female poop-chute needs a lighter shade.

A popular gift for females next Christmas could very well be a gift certificate for an butt hole lightening.

Sigmund Freud, referring to the years he spent studying the female psyche, famously asked this rhetorical question: What do women really want?
Well, Siggy – evidently many of them want a tan skin and a pale asshole.

But, all this rectal redecorating leaves me with a question: If a dissatisfied, self-loathing person has that bleaching process done to her anus and her life still doesn’t improve, is still not perfect despite her having a ravishing rectum, what the hell would she have done next?

There is not much left to be tampered with after rehabbing your rectum.

However, any female considering having their rectum bleached, should be aware that guys don’t care if that area of their body is not color coordinated. Their main concern is that it be accessible. Contrasting skin tones don’t matter. In fact, some might find that a turn-on.

Romeo: “Hark – what light is that in yonder window do I see?”

Romeo’s Friend: ”Hey pinhead – it’s just Juliette naked and bending over.”

Embracing my propensity to ride off in every direction, I also ran across another startling bit of information online. I learned, to my great surprise, that “Tonto” is Spanish for stupid or fool. Look it up if you don’t believe it. I did.
All those years the Lone Ranger was insulting Tonto every time he called his name. Who knew?

I’m sure the Cisco Kid knew and that devious Caballero never said a word. Probably didn’t want to call attention to the fact that he was here illegally and didn’t want to risk landing on Donald Trump’s shit list. Everybody is always out for himself.

Now if we only knew what Kemo Sabe, Tonto’s name for the Lone Ranger, really means. It could mean You Honky Bastard. Who would know?

The Lone Ranger: “Hey half-wit fool.”

Tonto: “What want, Honky Bastard.”

I wonder if Tonto’s anus was red? The Lone Ranger probably knew. I imagine it got mighty lonely out on the prairie at times.

After all, “Brokeback Mountain” was about two ostensibly macho cowboys camping out, and things getting out of hand – big time!

Macho is not a chronic, unchanging condition. Macho can be situational. Stuff happens.

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Does Yahweh Wear a Green Jacket? https://likethedew.com/2016/04/13/does-yahweh-wear-a-green-jacket/ https://likethedew.com/2016/04/13/does-yahweh-wear-a-green-jacket/#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2016 10:43:45 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63771

Green Sport Coat via Golf Digest’s Twitter feed

Back in the sixties, when I was 25, the all-wise, all knowing company management, in a poorly thought-out decision, offered me a third-shift supervisor’s job in the east Alabama cotton mill where I had been working since the age of 16. The fourth generation of my family to do so.

In a fit of even greater lunacy, I took the job.

My new boss was a hard-boiled character I will call Mr. Ely. Though I had never worked for Mr. Ely before, I knew his reputation. At the mere mention of Mr. Ely’s name, many hard, tough men would curse under their breath; sweet,motherly, sparkly-eyed old ladies would spit.

Mr. Ely was shaped like the Buddha, but had a personality more akin to Attila the Hun’s. He even had that extra fold of skin on his upper eyelids like a sinister Mongol warlord.

Mr. Ely was known to fire people in a blink of those cold, hooded eyes. After he had fired a long-time employee one frigid Christmas Eve, the fellow’s son, who also worked in the same department, stormed into Mr. Ely’s office, complaining loudly about his daddy’s being fired, especially during the joyous yuletide season.

While the irate young man ranted, Mr. Ely sat calmly rocking in his swivel chair, lips pursed, bald head gleaming, thick, pudgy fingers laced over the dune of his vast belly.

After the riled-up son finished his heated tirade, Mr. Ely, without raising his voice, fired him, too. Merry Christmas from Boss Ely. Of such personnel atrocities legends are born.

Luckily, working the third shift, I saw Mr. Ely just briefly in the mornings. Mostly, he communicated by terse notes he would leave on my desk. Notes that usually closed with the admonition, “I’m not telling you again!”

Mainly, though, things were going better than I had expected, except, due to a backlog of orders, the mill was running seven days a week. I did not get a day off for the first six months on my new job. I had developed a severe case of the lint lumbago. Calendars and such had lost all meaning for me.

During this time, there had been several magazine and newspaper articles about Dr. Thomas J.J. Altizer, an Emory University religion professor, who was involved in the “God is dead” theology controversy.

When I read that Dr. Altizer was scheduled to debate a high-church official in Atlanta, I thought it would be an interesting diversion to drive up to the Big City and see the fireworks. And maybe stop by Manuel’s Tavern for a grilled chicken sandwich and a few mugs of therupedic draft beer. What could it hurt?

Mr. Ely had started giving vacation days to other supervisors, but had not mentioned any time-off for me. Nevertheless, I decided to take a chance and ask for a day off, just one day. A single, solitary day.

I waited until I was about to leave at the end of shift that morning to broach the subject. Mr. Ely was sitting at his desk, squinting through the dingy office plexi-glass window as he put the evil eye on the workers milling about on the rumbling production floor.

Pausing halfway out the door, I asked if I could have a day off. (Technically, that would have been a ‘night’ off.)

“A day off for what?” he asked, without looking at me.

“I want to go to Atlanta to hear a debate,” I answered.

Perplexed by the arcane word, “debate,” Mr. Ely couldn’t have regarded me with any more confusion had I started crowing like a deranged rooster. So I hurriedly explained about the brewing spiritual contretemps and that the debate, hopefully, would answer the question of whether God was dead. Or not. Or maybe just on sick leave, (a feeble attempt at humor that twisted Mr. Ely’s features into a pudgy mask of disgust.)

That got Mr. Ely’s attention. Mouth gaping in astonishment, his head jerked around toward me. Incredulous, sputtering, he shouted though a spray of saliva, “I’m not about to let you off for something like that – you can forget it. no way!” He was literally bristling. Totally worked up.

His bullying answer really got my goat. Before I caught myself, I blurted out, “Why can’t you let me off for one day? You let the first shift supervisor off for a whole week to attend the Masters’ Golf Tournament! A whole week!”

Mr. Ely turned beet red from his double chin to the top of his shiny, slick head. Leaning forward, gripping the arms of his chair, he looked as if he might charge me like an enraged sumo wrestler.

He growled hoarsely, “That’s right! I let him off for the Masters’ Golf Tournament – that’s the Master’s Golf Tournament, big boy — not some silly, stupid, debate for morons!”

Well, he had me there. I still have no idea who won the debate. I don’t know who won the Masters’ that year, either.
I guess that’s two more questions that will be answered in the sweet bye and bye, when all questions are answered and all mysteries are revealed. One can dream…

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A Biscuit Delayed Is A Biscuit Denied https://likethedew.com/2016/02/21/a-biscuit-delayed-is-a-biscuit-denied/ https://likethedew.com/2016/02/21/a-biscuit-delayed-is-a-biscuit-denied/#comments Sun, 21 Feb 2016 14:12:19 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63198

Make your own Hardee's Biscuits - Recipe

There is an old story about the ten-year old Alabama boy, Junior, who had never spoken a word in his life. Then, one morning at the breakfast table, the lad suddenly blurted out, greatly annoyed, “Mama, you’ve burned these here biscuits!”

His mother and the rest of the family were dumbstruck. After she regained her composure, the mother said, “Praise the lord, Junior – those were the first words you’ve ever spoken; you’ve never said anything before.”

Junior frowned at her and said, “Well, Mama, up ’til now, everything’s been all right!”

(Apologies to brother and sister seniors who’ve heard this joke a million times.)

If a biscuit is done right, it can work miracles. That is why it was such a crying shame when our local Valley Hardee’s suddenly closed a while back, throwing elderly biscuit addicts into confusion and extreme biscuit withdrawal, cold turkey.

To many retired mill-hands — as well as younger gainfully employed folks needing nourishment to start their day — eating an early morning Hardee’s biscuit was an ingrained, basic ritual. There was no advanced warning that this outrage was about to befall us; and there was no follow up counseling for the bereaved, traumatized early-morning biscuit eaters.

For many dismal days, desperate biscuit addicts wandered Highway 29 in the cold,cruel morning light, casting forlorn, pitiful glances at the desolate, abandoned Hardee’s. Only Shakespeare could adequately describe their tragedy.

They were like millionaire Wall Street Bankers who suddenly discovered a hole in their golden parachute. I’m sure the citizens of ancient Troy felt the same sense of heart-breaking loss and anger upon realizing that Helen had flown the coop.

This was a sho’ ‘nuff catastrophe. Biscuits are the foundation bedrock of the Southern experience. It is not healthy for people to suddenly stop taking an opiate as powerful as a Hardee’s biscuit. Who knows what mental derangement will result from such an abrupt biscuit cut-off?

Even worse, it could be biscuits today, what might it be tomorrow? We may be approaching a dangerous tipping point regarding our eating habits. Should other restaurants close, we could be forced to cook our own meals at HOME! This may be a horrifying thought to some, but folks used to cook at home all the time. I swear they did. Some cooks were better than others, but most everybody did it. I’ve scrambled an egg or two, myself.

Believe it not, back in the day, people bought stoves to cook food on, not just to fill that big empty space between the kitchen cabinets. Or because it matched the refrigerator.

Granted, most women don’t have time to cook anymore –- they’re too busy watching cooking shows on television.

The greatest mystery of our age is this: Why is it the more cookbooks that are bought, the less home cooking actually gets done? Chew on that awhile, in lieu of a home-made biscuit. It has not always been like this.

Your granny may not have had stylish thong underwear, tattoos or jewelry in her nose, but she did have biscuits in her oven: fragrant mounds of hand-shaped, cat-head art,filling her kitchen with the beguiling perfume of sustaining granny love and the promise of lip-smacking paradise to come. And they weren’t those hybrid pre-fab biscuits that come in a plastic bag, lumped together like the contents of a loaded diaper; neither were they those polyester biscuits that come in a can like window caulking.

No, Granny made her biscuits up from scratch. They called it “scratch” because if you ever ate one, you were itching for another.

We shouldn’t waste the Lord’s time beseeching Him for rain, you can buy a drink of water anywhere. We should be praying for a good, hot, soul-stirring, scratch biscuit, slathered with sho’ ’nuff, artery-clogging, genuine butter. I’m talking heaven-sent here people.

Hmmm, boy –- yummy! Somebody say “Amen!”

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Esther Howland’s Valentine Monster https://likethedew.com/2016/02/12/esther-howlands-valentine-monster/ https://likethedew.com/2016/02/12/esther-howlands-valentine-monster/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:09:30 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63079

The virulent American contagion of giving St. Valentine’s Day cards can be traced back to patient zero, a certain teen-age girl in Worcester, Massachusetts.

It was there in 1847 that, after seeing crude, poorly designed British Valentine cards in her father’s stationery shop, 19-year-old Esther Howland decided she could come up with a prettier, more romantic offering.

Virgin Esther Howland, creator of the American St. Valentine's Day card, mulling over her non-existent love life.
Virgin Esther Howland, creator of the American St. Valentine’s Day card, mulling over her non-existent love life.

Esther did, and how; her printed, colorful love sentiments swept through the American populace like strep throat through a kindergarten.

Soon, Miss Ester, after hiring eight young women for a Valentine-card assembly line, was earning a hundred thousand dollars a year selling her intricately designed, improved Valentine cards. This feat is even more impressive when you realize that in the mid-1800s, a hundred thousand dollars was equivalent to almost three million in today’s money.

According to myth, fable and comic strips, there was a time when a boy who fancied a girl, won her heart by clubbing her over the head and dragging her unconscious, nubile — albeit hairy — body back to his cave. Even though this practice obviously could leave a woman addle-headed and too goofy to cook and keep house. Or, should I say, keep cave.

This crude courtship method no doubt caused serious domestic problems later. A wife would need to be at the peak of physical strength and mental acuity to skin and cook a wooly mammoth. She would have needed to possess well-honed Palinesque qualities.

Ever since humankind left said caves, men had tried a variety of more subtle means to win feminine affections — such as wearing powdered wigs, rouge and knee pants, taking minuet lessons — and taking an occasional bath, whether they needed it or not.

For centuries, men have gone along with most anything to curry favor from the opposite sex, even if it included irksome activities like attending the female’s family gatherings, Broadway musicals – and in extreme cases — River Dance performances.

Even though genetically repelled by these things, males would, as they used to say in the cotton mill, “lay their ears back and bite the bit.”

Cloth and lace Valentine card made by Esther Howland, ca. 1870s. Typescript inside card: 'You say my heart, my too fond heart, Is cold, my dear, to you; Ah! canst thou such a thought impart To one who loves so true?'
Cloth and lace Valentine card made by Esther Howland, ca. 1870s. Typescript inside card: ‘You say my heart, my too fond heart, Is cold, my dear, to you; Ah! canst thou such a thought impart To one who loves so true?’

There had to be a better way; a simple, efficient master key to unlock the distaff heart. Enter Miss Esther Howland and her St. Valentine’s Day cards. Bingo!

Esther Howland’s Valentine’s cards with their lace and sappy poems were a done deal. Not wanting to appear as an oafish lout, every guy with some change or a spare buck or two went along with the new St. Valentine’s Day protocol, secretly hoping for a huge personal return on his initial small investment.

It is almost certain the Valentine card craze started as a fad, like the pet-rock mania of the 1970s. (This, by the way, was one of the more embarrassing episodes of human history. Even people who were totally caught up in the pet-rock lunacy will vehemently deny it today. I do not blame them.)

However, Valentine cards have stood the test of time. Business analysts say Americans spend nearly $20 billion yearly on Valentine cards, candy, flowers and related items.

We are talking Wall Street bailout money here, folks! Donald Trump loot.

However, the Esther Howland story has its tragic aspect, too. Despite being the proxy matchmaker for countless millions of couples, Miss Esther remained unmarried to the end of her days, a chaste, unpicked blossom. She passed away at age 76, her fortune–and her virtue—intact.

Esther Howland, who had turned expressions of romantic love into a successful commercial enterprise, never got as much as one hickey on her neck or bottom pinch in return – as far as we know. Esther probably didn’t get a Valentine’s card, either. At least, not a card given with ulterior motives that meant business.

If Cupid ever shot an arrow at a male suitor on Miss Esther’s behalf, he must have missed and wounded an innocent bystander.

Despite the urge to give cards and candy on February 14th being woven into the strands of our society’s DNA, the contrarian head of the National Business League recently suggested that people use their imaginations when choosing Valentine gifts, and not stick with the traditional items.

Do what?

I am not so sure this is good advice. I once knew a high school freshman, a country boy, who was so grateful to a senior girl –unnamed here — who had tutored him in math, he felt moved to give her a special gift.

After much deliberation, he decided to give the young lady a jar of udder balm, the special salve his farmer daddy used on their cows that had been chafed by the milking machine.

In a word, “teat” ointment.

Surely, I do not have to describe this town girl’s reaction when she later found out the intended use of this special crème.

As a rule, I would advise any guy, who is not an expert on what women really want, to stick with cards, flowers and candy.

And that would be most of us. Ixnay on the udder balmnay.

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Enemas Gone Wild https://likethedew.com/2015/09/23/enemas-gone-wild/ https://likethedew.com/2015/09/23/enemas-gone-wild/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 21:25:53 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=61648

Promotional photo from the movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) produced by Bernard Woolner and directed by Nathan H. Juran for Allied Artists Pictures (fair use)An old Jewish curse says, “May Your Life Be Filled With Lawyers.”

Better lawyers than bedpans.

Unlike actors in televised medical fables, real people who work at hospitals, while sometimes angelic, are mainly natural-born Homo sapiens, just like the rest of us –- part devil, part saint, but all too human.

They mostly mean well, but many days, they just do not give a flip. And some, like former President Dubya Bush, obviously chose the wrong line of work.

The most frightening aspect of any serious illness is loosing control of your being to other people; creatures just like yourself. Folks who still think there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and a real lizard selling car insurance on TV.

Go to the hospital often enough and somebody will certainly yank your chain, along with your more intimate parts.

Like many gullible, put-upon Americans, I was recently processed though one of those new faddish cardiac stent factories. (Heart stents are the geriatric equivalent of teenage nose rings and navel studs. Seniors need them to stay in style.)

While I cannot complain about the treatment at the cardiac center, it was sorta like being run through a pit stop at the Talladega 500.

A fast-moving crew hit me from every side. My insurance card went one way; my drawers went the other, followed by my dignity.

After everybody in the hospital got through asking me if that was really my name on the wristband, somebody slipped me some sort of date-rape drug that put me in the mood for pretty much anything. I became a willing participant.

When I reached this heightened state of compliance and euphoria, a large black woman snatched the blanket off me and started shaving my groin. All the while, she was softly humming “Take my Hand, Precious Lord.” And trying not to laugh.

When I woke up it was all over. While I slumbered, the heart surgeon had come and gone, like a Blue-Cross version of Santa Claus or the Stent Fairy.

Overall, I would rate the heart stent procedure a success. Although I left the hospital minus three blockages and thousands of dollars, I no longer get chest pains while pacing the floor at night, worrying about my medical bills.

I will be the first to admit that modern American medicine is approaching, if not surpassing, magic. However, sometimes, instead of a cute bunny popping out of the hat, they pull out a polecat.

Among insults I have personally suffered, a radiology lady once got angry because I wore pajama pants under the hospital gown while walking from my room to the X-Ray department on the next floor.

Claiming they were too busy to wait five seconds while I took off the pants, she insisted I traipse down the hall wearing only the skimpy gown, with my voluptuous hindquarters shining like a full moon.

I explained to her that before I pranced around that nekkid, somebody would have to get me drunk. And play me some love songs. This lady frowned and fumed for the few seconds it took to take off my pajama pants. (I’ve always felt that women appreciate it more if you make them wait.)

But the absolute worst experience I ever had in a hospital was after being admitted to a beautiful facility on a hill overlooking the Chattahoochee River, seeking relief from kidney stones.

I wouldn’t wish a kidney stone on anybody. (Well, maybe Dick Cheney.)

After visiting hours, as I lay there in near-terminal agony, a large frowning fellow, carrying what looked like a five-gallon can and a garden hose, came into the room. Without so much as a howdy-do, he proceeded to give me a thundering, vigorous, state-of-the-art, world-class enema, in preparation for my kidney-stone removal the next morning.

This energetic, dedicated gentleman should have been named employee-of-the-year. He put his heart and soul into that enema. He pumped so much water through me the Chattahoochee River dropped six feet.

If there is such a place as the Enema Hall of Fame, they should vote this dude in on the first ballot.

Afterwards, he left me in such pain, I forgot about the kidney stones. My stomach was so flat I could have worn my old high school Levi’s.

(On the good side, for the first time in over twenty years, my sinuses were completely open.)

About thirty minutes after this vicious atrocity, as I lay there weak, barely able to raise my head off the pillow, there was a new knock at the door. It was another hulking black fellow, also carrying an ominous can and a sinister length of hose.

Reading from his clipboard, he said, “Mr. Strickland, I’m here to give you a pre-op enema.”

Do what?

He was leering in anticipation, like Hannibal Lechter the first time he saw Jodie Foster.

“You’ll have to fight me for it,” I screeched, leaping into a defensive karate stance on the bed. I hadn’t watched all those Bruce Lee movies for nothing.

The enema technician summoned the floor nurse, a skinny, excitable bleached blond, who also demanded I willingly accept the enema, as the doctor had ordered. When I refused, she went and got her supervisor, who, in turn, got her boss in on the fun. And so on, and so on.

It became even more crowded after several curious passersby – who had no business in the room — wandered in, attracted by the contentious commotion. It was like the ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’ except with an enema bag.

Finally, after much yelling, storming grim-faced in and out of the room, and many phone calls, they realized that someone had made a mistake by ordering two enemas. The second enema-delivery guy was disappointed, but gathered up his fiendish devices and slunk away, pouting and mumbling.

I pitied the next fool he put the hose to.

Later that night, the head nurse, a silver-haired, older grandmotherly-type, wearing a gleaming white uniform, a starched hat and thick wire-rim eyeglasses, came to my room and apologized for the misunderstanding.

While patting me on the leg, she said sweetly, “You must understand, dear –- we are adrift in a sea of incompetence, and the water is rising.”

Truer words were never spoken. She said it, not me. I accepted her explanation without comment. Who am I to argue with a Registered Nurse?

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Does American Health Care Have a Terminal Illness? https://likethedew.com/2015/09/21/does-american-health-care-have-a-terminal-illness/ https://likethedew.com/2015/09/21/does-american-health-care-have-a-terminal-illness/#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2015 03:52:17 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=61624

Businessman voodoo doll

It is just a matter of time until Medicare recipients are forced to wear a bell around their necks like Biblical lepers. Already, in some doctors’ offices, Medicare patients are as unwelcome as dog poo on a white Sunday shoe. Even some TV faith-healing evangelists no longer treat senior citizens.

There have always been some who loathed and despised poor sick people – not only Republicans, but many medical professionals who chose the wrong line of work. (And they know who they are.) But, getting sick is a fact of life and for some, it starts early. According to my mother, my first complete sentence was, “My head hurts.”

I don’t remember this incident, but this is the story I was told by my parents, numerous times.

In 1940, when I was about six months old, I developed such a severe case of “thrash,” that I couldn’t eat or suck my milk. Thrash, also called “thrush,” is a severe, painful inflammation of the lips, gums and mouth. I was losing weight and crying all the time because I was hungry and in pain.

The family doctor gave me some medicine that didn’t help a bit. I was getting smaller and smaller. And the inflammation in my mouth was getting worse. I couldn’t even drink water without crying.

There was an old conjure woman/root doctor who lived in a remote cabin up on the Tallapoosa River. She was well-known in the area. Finally, in desperation, my dedicated Methodist parents, accompanied by my grandfather’s sister, who knew the woman, took me up there to see the old crone, considered by many to be a witch.

According to them, this is what the ancient sorceress did: First, she took off my diaper. Then, after removing a small, silver razor from her apron pocket, she nicked the base of spine and let the blood flow into a tarnished old table spoon. She then took the spoon and squeezed enough milk from my mother’s breast to almost fill it. Then she sprinkled some powder from a small clay bottle into the blood and milk mixture, stirred the concoction with the tip of the razor, and made me drink it.

They said I choked, gagged and sputtered, but she held my head in her firm grip of her gnarled, wrinkled hand until I had swallowed the spoon’s contents. Within three days, the thrash had completely vanished and I was eating like the little pig I was born – and genetically disposed — to be.

Eating has not been a problem for me since. The thrash never came back. Many folks explain a conjure/root doctor’s successes as nothing but the power of suggestion. That may be part of it, but I don’t think “suggestion” would work with an infant whose mouth and gums are a solid, inflamed blister. A baby that young doesn’t have the world experience to be psychologically manipulated, like the folks who join the Tea Party.

Those herb and conjure folk knew a few things, evidently. I once had a cold that almost turned into pneumonia. I had been hacking and coughing for weeks with no relief. I had missed a few days work and gotten so far behind on my paper work, I had to work over after quitting time to catch up. The black cleaning lady, who was cleaning the offices after hours, was down the hall and heard me. She finally came in where I was and said I needed see the doctor for that cough. I told her I had already seen the doctor, twice. She said, “Then you need to go see Cooper.”

Cooper was an old black fellow who drove a mule and wagon around the mill village. He did yard work, plowed gardens, did odd jobs, cut firewood, etc. He must have been 90 years old and weighed about 100 pounds. Whatever the season, Cooper always wore a long-sleeved shirt, buttoned at the wrist and neck and a worn Sunday hat. Cooper had been an abiding presence on the village for all of my life, and long before.

The blacks said Cooper was a root doctor, too. Many of them used Cooper in preference to a traditional physician. I told her I didn’t know where Cooper lived. She said she would tell him about me and he would come to the mill.

The next day when I got off work, Cooper’s mule and wagon was parked across the street from the mill. In his usual fashion, he was sitting bolt upright on the wooden seat, with the mules reins resting across his lap, waiting for me. Seeing me descending the mill steps, Cooper raised his hand to get my attention.

When I approached him and asked if he had something for me, he pulled some small sticks out of his shirt pocket. They looked like those cross vine twigs we used to smoke as boys. Cooper had the twigs tied into a miniature cross with some sort of slender vine, or grass.

After effortlessly lowering himself off the wagon seat, Cooper touched my chest seven times with the tiny cross. He told me to “bile” the sticks in hot water until the cross came apart and the water turned dark. And then drink the water after it had cooled, but was still warm. Cooper added that I should recite “The Lord’s Prayer” before drinking the concoction.

I gave him $2. He had asked for a dollar. I was desperate for relief and I did as he instructed, even though my wife thought I had lost my mind. Not for the first time. Or the last.

The cold was better the next morning and was totally gone in two days. I wish Cooper was still alive. Damned if I wouldn’t use him for my medical issues. He lived to be a 100 taking his own medicine. And was still plowing a mule, and his bearing as straight as a cadet’s.

Besides, I don’t think Cooper had a problem accepting Medicare patients. Since he seemed ageless himself, age meant little to Cooper.

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Can You Hate Your Job and Still Love Labor Day? https://likethedew.com/2015/09/04/can-you-hate-your-job-and-still-love-labor-day/ https://likethedew.com/2015/09/04/can-you-hate-your-job-and-still-love-labor-day/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 21:09:57 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=61415

I would like to take this opportunity to say “Happy Labor Day” to those workers who produce the tsunami of goods swamping America’s retail establishments. I would like to do this, but, regrettably, I do not speak Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Hindu, Pakistani, or any other Asian dialect. (Levi’s are now made in Egypt, for pete’s sake. Pete is the American who lost his job.)

But, to be fair, due to the uptick in the economy, many more Americans have, thankfully, found employment; however, in most areas of the country, an Ivory-billed Woodpecker is easier to find than a good-paying job.

The Women's Auxiliary Typographical Union's Labor Day float (1909)
The Women’s Auxiliary Typographical Union’s Labor Day float (1909)

Americans are culturally disposed to work our tails off. We are the hardest working people on the face of the earth; dedicated to our jobs, even though the corporations treat us more like a nuisance, than an asset. We even buy toy tools for toddlers to play with, so they can get with the program early.

Most adults will never again know the absolute freedom and joy we experienced as children during the long, summer recess from school. After we start filling out job applications, the fun goes out the window.

For an American, work is life, and life is work. We identify ourselves by our jobs. Our labors can start at an early age and last late into our dotage, well into the time when our efforts are mostly in vain or seen as intrusive, and our remarks make little or no sense. (I.e., Dick Cheney.) The first job assignment I ever had was to empty the family slop jar each morning, before leaving for school. While this was an unpaid, largely ceremonial position, emptying the slop jar and leaving it to air out in the sun, greatly enhanced the tenor and civility of our, sometimes grating, domestic situation. Seeing that the slop jar was properly tended-to gave a sweeter rhyme to the humble poetry of our simple mill-village life.

I am sure there are younger readers who have no idea what a “slop jar” could possibly be. To them, I will say, “It is just as well that you do not know.”

The first paying job I ever had was after a drunken neighbor, who was barbecuing a goat in his back yard, hired me to count the moles on his head. I was about ten years old. This fellow and a buddy, who were drinking beer on his back steps, got into an argument over who had the most moles in his hair. Since I was the only objective bystander – and known for being good at math — they asked me to search their Vitalis-reeking scalps and take a mole census, which I did.

My neighbor won the contest with, as I recall, thirty-something strawberry-pink moles hidden in his black, greasy locks. His head was a virtual wart housing project.

For my assistance, the smug, happy winner gave me a dollar bill; a dollar that I took home and proudly displayed to my parents.

This windfall appalled my mother. She insisted I give the money back, and never to go into that fellow’s yard again, especially when he was drinking. (This would have been always.)

As I started out the door, my daddy pulled me aside and whispered for me to keep the money. He said a dollar was a dollar.

I did not appreciate just how sage his advice was until many years later. After I started living on Social Security, I realized that truer words were never spoken.

I got my first regular job at 14, when a grocery store hired me as a rookie bagboy during the Christmas holidays. I was at work the first day, for all of ten minutes, before I was summoned to perform above and beyond the call of duty. (After joining the work-force for eleven minutes, I realized that being an adult was not all it was cracked up to be.)

The store had quart glass jars of Sand Mountain Sorghum Syrup stacked in a giant pyramid in the center aisle. It was an accident waiting to happen, and the accident happened about nine minutes after I began my new career. A rambunctious little kid, who had jerked the shopping cart away from his mother, tore off down the aisle and crashed into the syrup display. It all came a-tumbling down.

There were maybe 100 glass Mason syrup jars in the pyramid, and 99 of them broke, leaving glistening shards of shattered glass floating on wide amber waves of syrupy, sticky goo.

After pushing a shovel and mop into my hands, the manager barked for me to get up the mess. When I desperately asked for instructions on how to clean up a disaster of that magnitude, he ordered me to get busy. Red-faced, he growled, “Figure out how to do it yourself! Next time you won’t have to ask!” Welcome to the working life.

Actually, this advice served me well in years to come. In the cotton mill, they often ordered us clean up somebody else’s mess, without offering a tiny clue as to how to proceed. Usually, they had no idea of how to proceed.

I spent nearly a half-century working in textiles. First I was a “mill-hand,” then an “employee” and, at the last, teetering at the edge of the eternal unemployment abyss, they labeled me an “associate.” Of these three, being an associate was by far the worst.

When a company starts referring to you as an “associate,” it is high time to head for the exit. Climb the fence if necessary. Things are about to get ugly and totally out of hand.

Let us be honest here — most people have to work, but few of them actually enjoy their jobs. Our lives would be a lot better if we did not have to interrupt our fun and go to work.

Once I asked my sainted grandmother why we had to squander so many of our precious hours on earth performing tasks we had rather not be doing. At the time, I was miffed because I had to cut the grass, bring in stove-wood,feed the chickens, go to school, things like that. Granny spit her Bruton, stopped snapping string beans and peered over her glasses, and replied, “That’s just the way it’s ‘sposed to be.”

According to some interpretations of Genesis, Man was evicted from a toil-free, non-laboring paradise in Eden and sent to the employment office after Eve sweet-talked Adam into eating that apple. Just a bite of the wrong fruit instantly snatched us out of a barefoot, butt-nekkid, sashaying around life into a world of dress-codes and mill whistles. Every time I give my wife grocery money — money earned by the sweat of my brow — and she comes home with a sack of apples, the supreme irony of it all overwhelms me.

It is truly beyond our feeble minds to grasp; even though that is the way it is ‘sposed to be. My wise, sweet granny told me so. And Granny never steered me wrong.

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Kindred Sprits https://likethedew.com/2015/08/19/kindred-sprits/ https://likethedew.com/2015/08/19/kindred-sprits/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 02:44:16 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=61212

Image: Sad Monkey by Kelly Deluded via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.

An acquaintance of mine, whom I will call Jasper, returning from a Florida fishing trip, after not catching a single fish and suffering a severe sunburn, once bought a used monkey at one of those back-roads’ tourist traps.

Jasper said the monkey was the most pitiful-looking critter he ever saw — skinny, its matted hair flecked with grey. Its sad eyes pleaded to him.

Jasper and the unfortunate simian connected on a telepathic, spiritual level — one desperate guy to another.

Jasper felt he couldn’t leave that jumbled, tumbled down site without taking the monkey with him. After some haggling with the toothless, unshaven, under-shirted, tattooed owner, Jasper bought the animal for $250.00. The owner threw in a heavy collar and chain, and a small beat-up wire travel cage.

When he got back home to Alabama with the monkey, Jasper’s wife had a running fit. She didn’t appreciate his sense of adventure and openness to new experiences; and his sympathetic feelings for a lesser creature in a jam.

She totally failed to comprehend that Jasper’s innate generosity and willingness to take a chance on unknown quantities was probably why he married her.

His wife finally calmed down a bit, but said he had to bathe the monkey to do something about its odor. She said the smell was making her sick.

So, Jasper put the monkey in the tub and gave it a long, hot soaking bath, with his wife’s expensive shampoo. He said the monkey didn’t seem too happy about it, but didn’t put up much of a fight.

After a weak struggle, the monkey finally just sat there hunched and shivering in the tub, with its few teeth chattering and a far away, wistful look in its eye. It was just another insane, torturous ordeal these crazy humans were putting it through.

However, when Jasper tried to dry it with his wife’s hair dryer, the monkey went berserk, climbing the walls, screeching, even ripping the shower curtain.

The monkey even tried to bite Jasper’s hand. But it had so many teeth missing, Jasper’s finger was caught in one of the gaps and the monkey just “gummed” him.

Jasper finally got the frightened monkey back in the travel cage. He carried the cage to the back deck to let the monkey air dry in the sun.

When Jasper checked on the monkey a while later, it was lying on its back, its teeth bared in a pathetic grin, its eyes closed — it was also stone cold dead. It had been killed graveyard dead by love and good intentions.

Evidently, crap happens, even to monkeys.

But, to Jasper’s credit, the monkey smelled as fragrant as a spring flower garden after a gentle rain.

He had owned the monkey for 24 hours. At a total cost of $250, his monkey cost him slightly over ten bucks an hour in operating costs, plus a few bucks for the Happy Meal he had bought the monkey in Dothan, Alabama, on their way home.

And the cost of giving his wife yet another reason to consider him a bumbling fool — priceless!

So try to ignore the know-it-alls who give unwanted advice. Especially, any doofus who is telling you to wash your new pre-owned monkey. Monkeys are supposed to smell funky.

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