Climbing Higher In La Mancha

There are few moments in life where the time span between the current and younger versions of yourself collide. Étienne Haute-Montange had such a moment three weeks ago and despite his aversion to leaving Provence, the newly retired French cyclist was excited for his next adventure. But, he never thought it would bring him all the way back to Letongaloosa.
In the early 1980’s, Étienne was working on his grandfather’s lilac farm when news came that he had been accepted into a business program in the United States at La Mancha University. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay at home and compete and after only a month in La Mancha, he rushed back to do what he loved—cycling high into the mountains.
Étienne had had a two-decade long career as a competitive cyclist.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. After completing his final time trial, Étienne packed up and set out to retrace all of his favorite bike routes, He wanted to think. He needed to figure out where the next stage of his life would lead.
Two days later he rode onto his favorite old roman bridge, Pont Julien. He wanted to take in its height and its spectacular views. As he gazed, his cell phone buzzed. The message was from his bug-loving best friend, Zimmy Tarbox. The call solved Etienne’s “what’s next” problem, and put him on a plane bound for Letongaloosa Community Junior College.
The LCJC was offering a summer cycling course for La Mancha and Letongaloosa residents. The course needed an instructor, and Zimmy knew Étienne would be perfect for the job.
Étienne arrived in the small Midwestern college town and got together with Zimmy. Then he went to meet with the chair of the Department of et. al, et al, Dr. Ima Farseer to get her help with the academic paperwork.
Then he headed over to the entomology department to see Zimmy.
“Be careful. The legs of a Cuban rainbow beetle can be rather delicate, or so I’ve read in a paper a good friend of mine wrote.”
Zimmy looked up from the cage of rainbow beetles and smiled.
“Is that so? Well, you know, the Cuban rainbow beetle is tougher than most people would think. This particular species lives high in the mountains and the best way to see one is to climb high into the mountains. You should know all about climbing.”
Étienne grinned, “Yes, I know a quite a bit.”
Then they headed over to The Enchantment—a bar on the outskirts of town. The kind every college town needs to keep its accreditation. They ordered root beers. Étienne filled Zimmy in on the details of his final professional time trial. Then they talked about life in Provence.
Etienne mentioned how he would miss competing in races like the Tour de Fleur, but he was delighted to come back to Letongaloosa to teach others to climb the mountains as he had done in Provence,
Zimmy laughed,” Slow down, old friend. Most of the residents taking part in the summer cycling program are looking to go bike-packing on the surrounding trails or enjoy a leisurely ride around town.”
Then Zimmy remembered the Fourth of July celebration sponsored by La Mancha U, LCJC and some of the other businesses around La Mancha and Letongaloosa. Of course, there would be fireworks, games, and a big cycling race to be held at the Letongaloosa Lake Loop Trail,
“There’s a cycling race on July 4th if you’re interested. It’s no Tour de Fleur, but it is fun and the climb might even challenge you. Plus, Bastille Day is just around the corner. I think you’ll enjoy the festivities,”
Étienne was delighted. He sipped his root beer and thought about this new stage of his life. Coming back to the small Midwestern town was the right decision. He had good friends. Étienne was able to continue doing what he loved.He was on the right path,
Zimmy and he finished their root beer, paid the bill and headed for the door. It was going to be a great summer. Étienne was ready to climb higher and have the time of his life!

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Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co 

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Small Adjustments

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Climbing High in La Mancha©

Étienne Haute-Montange sat in the Aéroport Marseille Provence. He had two hours to kill before heading off to Letongaloosa to enroll at Letongaloosa Community Junior College, the town’s center of higher education.
In the last 28 days, after completing his final professional time trial, the newly retired French cyclist had spent his time bike-packing around Provence.
He had put everything he would need on his bike frame and set out for the week to retrace all of his favorite routes. Étienne wanted to relax and think. He needed to figure out where the next stage of his life would lead.
Two days into his trek, on his way to the hidden village of Goult, he stopped on his favorite old roman bridge, Pont Julien, to take in its height and its spectacular views. As he gazed, his cell phone rang. The message put him on the path to his next great adventure.
In the early 1980’s , Étienne was working on his grandfather’s lilac farm when news came that he had been accepted into a business program in the United States at La Mancha University. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay at home and compete–climbing high into the mountains.
In his imagination, Étienne was a decade into his career as a competitive cyclist.
There are competitions and races throughout the world, but certain locations are synonymous with cycling. Étienne knew he’d be a part of it all someday so he tried to learn as much as he could about the trails, the climbs and the cyclists in those races. He knew he could learn more about the lilacs, the farm and his fate if he stayed in Provence. He was right.
Within a few months of packing up and setting out for La Mancha, Étienne was back riding through the tall, deep flowers and the high roadsof Provence. But not before he had made a longtime friend in Zimmy Tarbox.
Zimmy Tarbox was in the graduate program in the Department of Entomology at La Mancha U. He met Étienne on a campus bike trail while searching for beetles. Étienne was standing on a bridge that overlooked one of the university’s highest points.
The view included lilacs, which are hard to find in a small Midwestern college town. Étienne came to the bridge when he felt homesick.
The two students struck up a conversation. Zimmy, was about to capture a cockroach he had spotted on the rail of the old bridge.
“What’s up?” asked Étienne. Zimmy smiled as he snagged the insect. He was planning to measure the space between its eyeballs.
“What in the world are you doing?” asked Étienne looking down at the small cage and the large bug. Why would anyone want to capture it?
Zimmy explained that he was studying the anatomy of the bug and that he must successfully identify all of its parts for his midterm exam. In turn, Zimmy learned that Étienne’s true passion was cycling, not business, and he really wished to return to Provence.
The two became good friends over the next few months. Zimmy became well-versed in the highest climbs in Provence, and Étienne learned the best way to obtain the measurements of a baby cockroach without harming it.
After Étienne returned to Provence the two kept in touch–a friendship that lasted through the years. Zimmy went to Provence to celebrate Étienne’s win in the Tour de Fleur and Étienne went to Cuba when Zimmy and Kate made their big rainbow beetle discovery.
So when his cell phone sounded as Étienne was standing on that bridge in Provence, he was delighted to learn that he would soon be heading back to La Mancha to see his old friend.
“The university is offering a summer cycling course for La Mancha and Letongaloosa residents. They need an instructor. Kate and I think you’d be a perfect for the job. What do you say? ”

Even though it was only for a few months, Étienne was delighted.
“Of course, my bug-loving, friend! See you soon!”
So now Étienne was waiting in the Aéroport Marseille Provence eager to follow the next stage of his adventures–in a small Midwestern town.

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Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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“Kaybe and the Six Million Dollar Project©”

The phone rang at our home one evening recently. On the line was my friend Four-Finger Fanny, an alien from outer space. Fanny works as a waitress at The Enchantment. I listened then said “I’ll be right there.”
I asked a young waitress to tell Fanny I was there, and then went to my booth in the back.
The Enchantment is a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of Letongaloosa. Every college town needs a joint like the Enchantment to maintain its academic accreditation. I go there quite often to relax with a soft drink.
That night, however, I was there on urgent business. Another being from outer space, my friend KB2.11, (I call him Kaybe for short) had contacted me. He needed $6-million for a charity project that leaders at our end of the Milky Way galaxy were sponsoring.
“What’s up?” asked Fanny.
“Can you get in touch with Kaybe? I’m helping him raise money for a galaxy charity project and I need to know how and where to send the funds.”
As you may remember, my friend Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set arms sprout from the curved sides of his body. Three spindly legs drop from the flat underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet, and three sensor-eyes wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top his lid.
Kaybe is from the Milky Way, but his home planet is several parsecs closer than the Earth to the center of the galaxy. And his people have solved the problem of traveling faster than the speed of light.
Kaybe speaks telepathically. His words form letters in your mind. Four-Finger Fanny is also from outer space, but she just looks like a
middle aged woman who has spent too much time on her feet.
Kaybe and Four-Finger Fanny communicate telepathically, but Four Finger
Kaybe’s $6-million project.

Fanny also speaks human. That’s good, because I’d rather not converse telepathically.
Some wealthy friends—people who have appeared in previous columns, Blair Timert, Eloise Simplekins, and Sir Jeremiah Teancrumpets,–had agreed to donate two million dollars each to the galaxy charity project.
Blair Timert, was adopted by wealthy Basque parents who lived in Letongaloosa. Their Basque name was unpronounceable for most people so they retained Blair’s birth name. Blair learned to speak Basque. In one adventure, Blair bested some Basque hoodlums who tried to kidnap him.
Eloise Simplekins was a cleaning lady for wealthy women of the wealthy La Mancha neighborhood. She realized that wealthy women in town hired pre-cleaning ladies to clean-up their husbands’ messy bathrooms before the regular cleaning ladies arrived. Eloise figured that other upper class women in the U.S. also hired pre-cleaning ladies. She founded a pre-cleaning business and sold franchises nationwide. She made a fortune.
Sir Jeremiah Teancrumpets was a British billionaire. He used to become angry at even the slightest irritation. His neighbor, a physician, taught Sir Jeremiah to laugh when he became angry, instead of becoming apoplectic. The laugh-it-off formula probably saved Sir Jeremiah from death by heart attack. But hearing Sir Jeremiah’s laugh causes some people fear and consternation.
Sir Jeremiah is a tightwad, but he hates paying income taxes. So he takes inflated income tax write-offs for donations he makes to charitable causes.
“How do we transfer these funds to Kaybe?” I asked Fanny.
“Well,” she said, “you just…” Then with a look of consternation, she added, “Wait. I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
A week later the phone rang.
“I’ve got an answer, but you’ll have to come to the Enchantment.”
“I’m on my way,” I said.
When I got to my booth, Four-Finger Fanny handed me a soft drink and said, “What I’m going to tell you is top secret. You have to guard this information with your life.”
She then gave me the name of a bank, a routing number, and the name and the number of the account. The electronic transfer went through flawlessly.
Sometime later I got a message saying that the donation had been received and that everyone involved was most grateful.
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Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co 

 

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April the Fool and the Psychic©

Back in April, 2015 I wrote a humor column titled “April the Fool.”
The column dealt with April Van Planton and his onery mother Lavida. Lavida and her husband had had six children and didn’t want any more. She went to the doctor for a pain in her stomach. When she was told she was pregnant, Lavida called the physician a “stupid old sawbones,” and smacked him in the head with her purse.
After the doctor’s diagnosis, Lavida made an appointment for a second opinion. This time she called the studio of Swami Samantha, a young psychic who just opened a practice in Letongaloosa.
“You’re not pregnant,” said the psychic.
“Then why do I have this pain?”
` “Do you drink orange juice?”
“Sure, every day for breakfast .”
“Switch to cranberry juice, and the pain will go away.”
Lavida switched to cranberry juice, and she did feel a lot better.
But nine months later she delivered a nine-pound baby boy.
The birth made Lavida so angry that she named the baby April. She chose that sissy name because she wanted April to be teased. She hoped he’d develop a mean streak, when he grew up. She wanted him to get into fistfights with his tormentors.
But April didn’t grow up to have a mean streak He grew up to be bright, kind and friendly. Everybody in town doted on him.
That drove Lavida nuts.
“You’re a fool, April,” she’d say.
“Yes, ma’am,” he’d say.
That drove Lavida even more nuts.
“You’re a stupid, no good, worthless bum,” she’d yell.
“I’m sorry, Momma,” he’d say. “I’ll try to be better.”
April studied hard. He got top grades even though Lavida insisted that he work long hours after school and on weekends.
When that failed to break April’s spirit, his mother gave up trying to ruin his life. Lavida died not long after that, a bitter and disillusioned woman.
In high school April aced the ACT and SAT exams. Top universities offered him four-year full-ride scholarships. April attended Harvard and graduated with a degree in business. He became CEO of a large company by the age of 30. After a successful career April retired and became an acclaimed motivational speaker.
One day Ted Palmer, president of the Letongaloosa Chamber of Commerce, saw April’s picture on the cover of a top flight business magazine. Ted had been one grade behind April in high school. On a whim Ted called the firm that booked April’s appearances and asked how much it would cost to have April speak at the chamber’s annual banquet.
“Mr. Van Planton’s fee for one speech is $50,000, unless you are a charitable organization,” said the person on the phone, “in which case it’s free. But he’s booked for charitable speeches through October, 2020”
Ted Palmer thanked her and hung up. The phone rang a few minutes later. It was April himself.
“Ted, I’d love to speak at your banquet for free,” he said.
Interest was so high that the Chamber of Commerce invited the public to attend April’s speech, and booked the largest auditorium in Letongaloosa for the event. April told Ted he wanted to approach to the microphone without introduction.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I’m April, the Fool.”
He got a standing ovation before he could even begin his speech—and, of course, another standing ovation after he’d finished.
April stayed in town after the speech. He wanted to meet the psychic who had had such an impact on his life. April had his executive assistant call in the appointment. The assistant requested a “back door, back room” psychic reading for an out-of-town visitor named Thomas Forman. The psychic’s reputation was wide spread, and she frequently did readings for out of town clients.
Wearing a hat and a raincoat with the collar turned up, April rapped on the back door of the psychic’s studio.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Forman, I’m Swami Samantha,” said the psychic.
“And I’m April the Fool.”
There was a long silence.
Then April said, “If you are free, I’d like to take you to dinner to thank you for all you did for me.”
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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Sports Bon Mots, Part 2

The Jargon:                              The Response
“He’s down for the count,” “Too bad he can only count to six.”
“This one’s going down to the wire,” “Hurry, call Western Union.”
”The coach called for a full court press,” “It’ll be back from the cleaners Monday.”
“That was a low blow.” “Even for a base saxophone”
“Smithers is on deck,” “they’re playing poker in the dugout again.”
“They need to bench that guy,” “Or maybe give him a sofa”
“He tried a head fake (basketball term)…Or was it just brain freeze?”

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Game Day Bon Mots

They can’t buy a basket.   And their baskets will make them $20 million a year.

They can’t find their range. But they finally found the kitchen sink.

They are throwing up bricks. Fifty building contractors want to hire them.

He threw up an air ball. Then the coach threw up.

They have to find an answer for Reggie Miller. They can’t even find an answer for Glen Miller.

It’s been a game of runs. Somebody. Please get them some Pepto-Bismol.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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