Tag Archives: College

“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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The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, Christmas Edition

Looking at the pages of the Tuesday edition of The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, managing editor, Isabella Frost knew it was going to be a long night.  Ever since she was a young, bright-eyed copy editor, ignoring the clock on the wall had been a tradition. There was a lot to do and she had a “to-do” list a mile long to prove it.

After nearly 40 years in the newsroom, that was one thing that never changed. Isabella was used to working late. To be honest, she enjoyed the time it took and the excitement of putting out a newspaper, especially during the holiday season. She liked seeing all of the brilliant colors of pictures and the heart-warming stories of the town coming together splashed all over the pages.  After all these years, they always filled her heart with joy.

Isabella closed her eyes, took a deep breath and remembered she needed to make room for the full-page ad that would accompany the feature for Dexter Dolby’s new movie, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer. She also needed to include milk to her list of things to pick up on her way home before she continued gazing at the words and pictures intermingling across tomorrow’s layout.  She was content with her life and the work she had done.  Then something peculiar caught her attention—she couldn’t look away.

Every story seemed to be in a “Top 10 List” format. As she clicked through each section, there were lists after lists scattered all throughout the pages. In the age of social media, Isabella knows that lists are a quick and effective way to tell a story. She, herself, has used them and keeps countless lists stored in her phone: “to-do” lists, lists for potential articles she wants to write, even her grocery list on her refrigerator is synced to her phone so even if she forgets to write milk to her shopping list, it’s not a big deal. Isabella can just send the list that is on her refrigerator to her phone and call it a day.

There is “Top 10”lists for everything nowadays. Every newspaper, magazine and media outlet around the globe seems to gravitate towards using them, not as just an element to a story, but as the primary way to relay information to the masses.

And Isabella saw that The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle is definitely keeping up with current trends. The headlines staring back at her were: Top 10 Best Christmas Gifts for Chefs, The 10 Best Christmas Yodeling Albums of 2017, Merry Duggins’ List of the 10 Best Christmas Movies to name just a few.

Thankfully, the piece on Dexter’s new movie premiere would add an element of tradition to the paper. He was a longtime friend of Isabella’s and a beloved movie legend of Letongaloosa. His premiere film, Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey, lead him to head to job at a film production company on the Pacific Coast. He was home for the holidays to showcase his sophomore film, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer.  It was only fitting that Dexter come back to where his first began and it was only right that Isabella conduct his homecoming interview.

Excited, seeing Dexter and writing about his newest movie was an article that Isabella had looked forward to writing. Dexter was a student at Letongaloosa Community College where Isabella taught a writing course. She supervised his internship here at the paper and had been following his career ever since. She made sure Dexter’s story would be front and center highlight of the Lifestyle section.

After giving the Tuesday edition a final glance, she checked some final things off of her “to-do” list and headed off to the grocery store. It had been a long day. She was happy to go home, close her eyes and relax.

 

As Isabella woke the next morning, she reached for her phone to check her schedule for the day. It was going to be another long day. Making her way to into the newsroom, she grabbed a paper and flipped to the Lifestyle section and saw Dexter Dolby’s big smile, sparkling eyes and his “Top 10 Favorite Scifi Movies” staring back at her. She was filled with joy!!

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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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The Pop Fly Redemption Redux©

Redux, adjective: to restore, to revive

 

 

La Mancha is the posh section of Letongaloosa where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile. Among the leading  residents of La Mancha are Archibald and Olivia Sommerset.  The Summersets’ daughter, Madison “Madie”  Sommerset, was the suburb’s leading high school athlete.
Madie had been respected by all and revered by many for leading the La Mancha Amazons to victory in all sports, particularly in softball.
But then Madie’s athletic career suffered a serious setback.  The Amazons had let their dinky rivals, the Fairfield Fusions, tie the score in the last inning.  The fusions had a runner on third and a scrawny end-of-the-lineup batter at the plate. The Amazon pitcher’s finger slipped off the ball and the pitch came over the plate looking like a watermelon.
Scrawny Arms closed her eyes, swung and hit a blooper that looked like it was going foul. But  then  the ball came back fair–between home and the pitcher’s mound.  Madie called for the ball.  But Madie muffed the catch when she couldn’t get her catcher’s mask off.  The mask was stuck on her face by an excess of makeup. Madie applied the makeup in anticipation of being photographed for the local newspaper.  When she did manage to  rip the mask off,  the makeup made her look like a raccoon.
When it came to academics Madie had been an indifferent student. She worked hard enough in school to stay eligible for athletics and extracurricular activities, but she often failed to turn in assignments.  She never tried to get good grades, much less make the dean’s list.

After the Fusion  High debacle, people at the country club treated Mr. and Mrs. Sommerset with pity rather than deference. When her parents found that Madie was, academically, a nonperson, they demanded she make the honor roll and excel at some other extracurricular activity than sports.
At  Letongaloosa High School, forensics was to the brainy kids what athletics was to the athletic kids:  a ticket to popularity and recognition.  Madie had always distained non sport activities.          But now, she signed up for forensics, and focused on poetry recitation.  She memorized and practiced reciting “Casey at the Bat.” She loved the poem, and maybe because she looked the part, the judges liked Madie’s recitation.  She won the local and district forensics poetry competitions and went on to regionals.
Madie managed to win or place second in poetry recitation at regionals and found herself in the final round facing an opponent from Fusion High School.  Madie’s opponent was listed on the forensics tote board as Sally Teasley– her old softball nemesis, A.K.A. “Scrawny Arms”.
One of the judges said:  “We’ll begin this session with Sally Teasley reciting “The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern:
“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees…” Then she paused and turned pale.  The room was silent. Sally stood frozen at the lectern. Then Madie’s quiet voice came from behind her: “The moon was a ghostly…”  Sally finished reciting the poem beautifully, and  after Madie had recited “Casey at the Bat,” the two girls left the room arm in arm.
Madie did well in forensics, and found she liked academics as well.
About that time Madie met Tyler Kirby.  Tyler was a brainy kid with a 4.0 grade point average. He hungered to play football.  The problem was, he weighed 187 pounds. On the first day of practice the coach took one look and told Tyler to turn in his uniform.
A phone call from the school principal changed all that. The principal lowered the boom on the team because most of the football players’ low grades.
The coach got back in touch with Tyler Kirby.
“Son, do you get good grades?” asked the coach.
“I have a 4.0 grade point average.”
“Come on back to the gym and suit up, son, you’ve made the team.”
From then on, Tyler tutored male athletes and Madie tutored female athletes. That was the year Letongaloosa High School won state finals in athletics and forensics.
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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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Pop Fly Redemption

La Mancha is the posh section of Letongaloosa  where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.  The La Mancha girls softball team—the Amazons—and the team’s star, catcher, Madison “Madie” Sommerset,  suffered an ignominious defeat in the final game of the 2014 regional tournament.  After trailing the whole game, the Amazons allowed the Fairfield Fusions to  tie the game in the bottom of the final inning.
With the score tied, and two out, a  scrawny Fusion  batter hit a high fly that Madie called for.  Madie was wearing extra thick make-up in anticipation of  posing for victory photos.   Madie tried to tear off her catcher’s mask but her thick make-up had bonded with the lining of her catcher’s mask . She couldn’t get it off.  Madie muffed the play and the fusion runner crossed the plate for the winning run.  There was no joy in La Manchaville , Mighty Madie had flubbed up.
Things were tough for Madie during the off season. Students called her “Muffles” behind her back, and a few called her Muffles to her face. She developed an allergy to cosmetics and had to go to school barefaced. Worse, Madie developed a pimple on her nose. Students called her Bruja  which is “witch” in Spanish. Someone left a big red apple on her desk to remind her that she wasn’t a big shot “Snow White,” any more.
When it came to academics Madie had been an indifferent student. She worked hard enough in school to stay eligible for athletics and extracurricular activities, but she often failed to turn in her assignments.  She just never even tried to get good grades, much less make the dean’s list.
That was acceptable, even to her parents, when she was a star athlete.  But when Mr. and Mrs. Sommerset found that people at the country club treated them with pity rather than the usual deference, they confronted Madie and found out that she was, academically, a nonperson. They demanded that she make the honor roll and that she excel at some other extracurricular activity than sports.
At  Letongaloosa High School, forensics was to the brainy kids what athletics was to the athletic kids: a ticket to popularity and recognition.  Madie had always distained non sport activities.   But now, Madie signed up for forensics and focused on poetry recitation.  She memorized and practiced reciting “Casey at the Bat.” Partly because she looked the part, and partly because she loved the poem, the judges liked Madie’s recitations.

She won the local and district forensics poetry competitions and went on to regionals. Competition was very tough at the regional tournament but Madie managed to win or place second in poetry recitation and found herself in the final round facing an opponent from Fusion High School.  Madie’s  opponent was listed on the forensics tote board in the hall as Sally Teasley.  The tournament was held on a Saturday in a neutral high school building. The tournament judges were from out of town  They didn’t know the competitors other than by their names, and didn’t know what high school the contestants represented.
That afternoon Madie walked into the large classroom designated for the poetry competition. She wrote her name on the board under the sign “Poetry Recitation Finalists,” and sat down.  A moment later her opponent entered the room and signed in. Madie drew a sudden breath. Her recitation opponent was her old softball nemesis, Sally Teasley, A.K.A. “Scrawny Arms” from Fusion High School.
The judges were sitting in student desks eight rows back. They conferred, then one of them announced:  “We’ll begin this session with Sally Teasley reciting  “ The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern and began this session with Sally Teasley reciting  “ The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern and began reciting:

“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees…” Then she paused and turned pale.  The room was silent. Sally stood frozen at the lectern. Then Madie’s quiet voice came from behind her: “The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed among…” Sally brightened, picked up the refrain, and finished her recitation beautifully.  After Madie had recited “Casey at the Bat,” the two girls walked out of the room arm in arm.

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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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Code Blur

 

            When a store detective tried to arrest my pal Sam Goldfarb for shoplifting, the guy had no idea that within an hour the FBI, the CIA, the White House, and the national news media would get involved in the case.
            Sam is a member of the our Maridos Club, a social organization for people whose spouses drag them to the mall all the time.
            As he plods through the department stores behind his wife Molly, Sam keeps his eyes open for interesting displays that the department store decorators prepare.              Decorators at our mall create displays with stuff they find in flea markets, second hand stores and yard sales.
           There are 1930-era gadgets, home appliances from the 1950s, and stacks of books with titles like, “The Economic Impact of Disk Plow Technology on Rural Platt County Kansas 1874-1876.”    The decorators arrange these treasures with swatches of fabric  or set them beside  sheaves of wheat  and  vases of pussy willow.
            While your spouse is trying on clothes, you can contemplate a gadget or  pick up a book from one of the displays and improve your mind.
            On the day of the incident, Sam and Molly Goldfarb were in Blevins Department store in the mall.  Molly was trying on clothes. While he waited, Sam wandered over to a pile of junk that the store decorator had artfully intertwined with some plastic bougainvillea.
            There was a beat-up electric iron, a telephone circa. 1937, and a gadget that looked like an old fashioned adding machine.  The device was about half the size of a shoe box and was sitting in a black metal case. On the top of the machine were rows of typewriter keys with strange symbols on them.
            “Sweet Matilda,” cried Sam when he examined the apparatus.  He couldn’t believe his eyes.  Lying there in plain sight was the top secret World War II Moncleef Cryptographic Codemaster.
            Sam recognized the device immediately.  In 1943, Sam, then a bright young Air Force  first lieutenant with a Ph.D. in physics, was assigned to work with Weird Wendell Montcleef, the inventor of the Moncleef Cryptographic Codemaster.
            Moncleef, who was Sam’s age, was a hotshot young professor at the University of Chicago before World War II.  He left academe for the corporate world, an during his stay with corporate America, Weird Wendell developed a prototype of the Moncleef Cryptographic Codemaster.   Then, before he got the thing working, Weird Wendell abandoned the project, quit the corporation, and moved to Kansas City to play in a jazz band.
            A couple of years after the war started someone in Washington—rumor had it that it was President Roosevelt himself—appealed to Weird Wendell’s patriotic nature, and convinced him to get back to work on the Codemaster device.  The Codemaster when it was perfected, was supposed to be able to encode, decode, slice, dice, fold, staple and spindle any message you threw at it.
Weird Wendall toyed with the government for months and months. He kept telling them he was days away from perfecting the Codemaster.  Then he’d say there was a snag.  Finally the government dispatched Lt. Sam Goldfarb to work with Wendell, and spy on him.  Weird Wendell knew that Sam was a government spy, but he thought, egotistically, that he could fool Sam as well as the government.
Meantime, Weird Wendell, a bachelor, got involved with Ernestine Duval, a Kansas City jazz singer of great beauty and charm.  Ernestine Duval was really Feda Von Gubler, one of Germany’s top undercover agents.
Soon after he began working with Weird Wendell, Sam Goldfarb discovered that the Codemaster would never work  Sam realized that  Weird Wendell had perpetrated on everyone.  Sam sent a detailed report to his superiors.  Two days later the government shipped Sam off to a remote weather station in Greenland where he spent the rest of the war.
A few weeks after Sam Goldfarb was banished to Greenland, Weird Wendell let it slip to Ernestine/Freda, his German spy lover, that the Codemaster was operative and was being deployed to all Allied commands.  That sent the Germans and the Japanese into a code-changing frenzy which fouled up their communications systems for weeks and hampered their ability to react to crucial Allied military initiatives.
Weird Wendell and his Codemaster device were a small, but significant footnote to the war effort.  The prototype of the Moncleef Cryptographic Codemaster that Weird Wendell used to fool U.S. government bureaucrats and, through Ernestine/Freda the German high command, was placed in top secret storage at a site near Kansas City.
Somehow, decades later, it turned up at a local flea market where a decorator from Blevins Department Store bought it and put it on display, surrounded by fake bougainvillea.
And that’s where Sam Goldfarb saw the device for the first time since the just before he was shipped off to Greenland during World War II.  When Sam saw the Codemaster  sitting there, he reacted instinctively and somewhat irrationally.  He grabbed  the machine, stuffed it into a shopping bag and covered it with a couple of blouses that Molly had just bought.  Then he hustled Molly out of the store and out of the mall.
A mall security man stopped Sam and asked him to open the bag.  Sam smacked the guy in the jaw, and ran.  Sam made it to his car and burned rubber out of the parking lot.  He led police on a merry chase through the neighborhood until they ran him into a cul de sac.
 When he saw he was trapped, Sam jumped out of his car, and, holding the Moncleef Crtographic Codemaster above his head,  threatened to blow the neighborhood to smithereens.  Then he jumped back into his car and slammed the door.
At that point the whole thing turned into a made for TV movie scene: police cars, helicopters, bullhorns.  The media from all over the area were giving feeds to national networks.
            Sam’s  cell phone rang.  He demanded to talk to the President.
            A few minutes later Sam’s cell phone rang again, and a familiar drawl said, “Hello Sam. This is the President.  Is it all right if I call you Sam?”
          “Yes, Mr. President,” said Sam.
         “Good. Now, Sam, what can we do for you?”
        “I want the government to apologize for shipping me off to Greenland to freeze my buns off for three years for just trying to do my job during World War II.”
        “Tell me about it, Sam,” said the President, “I’ll try to help.”
         Sam told him the whole story.
        A few minutes later the phone rang in the office of a gray-haired spymaster at the Central Intelligence Agency.
       “Wendell,” said the President, “We’ve got a situation.”
       “Tell me about it, Mr. President,” said Weird Wendell Moncleef,  director the
O.O.O., the CIA’s super secret Office of Oddball  Operations.
            The government opted for what is known as a modified hang out—a damage control initiative perfected by the CIA.
            That night the network news shows carried the story of a heroic World War II veteran who risked his life to save his fellow shoppers from a booby-trapped World War II device that had somehow turned up on display at a local department store. Print journalists crawled all over the story the next day, but the government’s version held up long enough for the next “barn burner news event” to show up on the media radar screen. After three days the Codemaster incident was old news even in Kansas City.
       Sam and Molly can shop at the mall again without being approached for autographs.
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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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Pecked to Death by Ducks©

With the summer season just around the corner, most people are making vacation plans. I, on the other hand, have been busy stressing about all of the things around my house that need my attention.

I’ve been thinking about what to do with all my “stuff” in the attic. Emmaline runs a trim ship.   I sail a kind of garbage scow.

It’s time to get the wet leaves out of the roof gutters, put fertilizer on the lawn, fetch some sacks of pebbles for the rock garden.  On a more personal note, I wanted to rescue a couple of my favorite shirts from the church donation box sitting by the front door.
Whenever I think that I have too much to do, my stress rises. When that happens, it’s like I’m being pecked to death by ducks.  Its as if I were tied hand and foot and lying on wet grass with a raft, team or paddling (see Google) of ducks pecking me.  Their blunt beaks don’t break the skin on my head like the peck of a woodpecker would, but the sensation is still painful, and
emotionally draining.

The feeling comes when I think I have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. I often get relief by day dreaming about decades past when I traveled a lot—to Latin America, the Caribbean, North and Central Africa, Japan.  But if I day dream too deeply while I’m doing something like trimming the hedge, and I mess it up, and—out come the ducks.

I’ve been thinking Emmaline and I need to go back to the Caribbean, or Latin America. But then I realize that what we really need is to go back to our good old rental cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I always love our days on the river there, floating downstream on inner tubes, drinking steins of root beer with my friends, the little old colonial Dutchmen.
Back in March I got in touch with my humor column friends and colleagues at The Enchantment, that dingy roadhouse on the edge of town where so many of them congregate. I told them to meet us at the cabin. Then, what with the ducks in my head and all, I nearly forgot about the trip to the cabin.

So today, I got the word out—on Internet, by smoke signals, by homing pigeons, by mental telepathy–and by a few other means of communication that I won’t elaborate on here. I invited everyone

to meet us at the cabin.  The invitation to my  robot friend KB11.2 (Kaybe, for short) went zinging  through outer space to his home planet that’s just a few parsecs from our nearest star, Alpha Centuari.   And I asked Kaybe to stop by Cuba on his way andpick up Kate in the jungle down there.
Emmaline thought we couldn’t go to the cabin right now because there was too much to be done here: paint the shutters, plant a garden, clean out the garage, etc., etc.

“And What about Ginger?” she asked.  Ginger is our dog.

“I promise to paint the shutters when we get back. The weather will be better then, anyway.  It’s been a late spring, so we can put in the garden after we get back.  Ginger always comes with us, remember? Her carrier is just inside the front door, next to that donation box we’re taking to the church.”

I knew that Emmaline wanted to go to the cabin all along, but we needed to tie up loose ends.  After she went to pack, she called down to say she was including a variety of ceramic root beer steins.

She had chosen one for everybody. A few days later as we got ready to leave the ducks in my head took a nap—a nice long one, I hoped.

When I lifted Ginger into her carrier, she nestled down on top of my favorite dear old (not to be discarded) shirt. It was folded neatly underneath her.

I put the church donation box in the car to drop off on the way out of 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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Love Talk

 

About a year ago I wrote a column titled, “I Speak Alien.” In that column I told how my friend from outer space, the alien KB-11.2, had saved my engagement and my marriage by teaching me Mujerspeak, the native language of my bride-to-be Emmaline.

Recently my alien friend surged to the rescue again. This time Kaybe helped a colleague ofmine. Dr. Morris Amaraduckski is a professor at Letongaloosa Community Junior College where I teach. Morrie’s teaching and research field is polychromatic einsprechen. Scores of LCJC students have become linguistically nimble after taking Dr. Amaraduckski’s course, “Theory and Practice of Tergiversation, Circumlocution and Equivocation.”

All his life Morrie had been too busy for romantic distractions. He was a focused individual.

He sailed through high school, college and graduate school with topnotch grades by keeping his eyes on a computer screen, and the seat of his pants on a chair at the library. After hereceived his Ph.D., and came to teach at LCJC, Morrie focused on getting tenure. He taught his classes vigorously, and he published prodigiously. For a number of years after he gained tenure,

Morrie just focused on being focused.

Then one day, WHAM, Morrie fell in love. The object of his affection was Sally Beeglesdorf-Hannraty, wife of the late George Henry Hannraty, DDS. Sally moved to Letongaloosa to run aflower and gift shop after the untimely demise of her husband. Sally and her spouse had lived foryears on the East Coast where people talk loud and straight, and have funny accents.

When Sally moved to Letongaloosa she talked loud and straight and had a funny accent.

She caused culture shock among the locals who, as a general rule, speak quietly and bea around the bush a good deal. Sally’s social life was straitened and her flower and gift shop’sbusiness suffered as a result. But Sally was intelligent. She soon realized that Letongaloosa was not the East Coast, and that Letongaloosans weren’t going to adapt to her. She decided to adapt to Letongaloosa.

Sally enrolled in an elocution class at LCJC, and well before the semester ended she hadlost her East Coast accent, toned down her loud voice, and learned to put “at” on the end ofher sentences—as in “That’s a nice dress, where did you buy it at?”

There remained one serious problem. Sally still talked straight. She always called a spade a spade. Sally felt that speaking honestly was a matter of moral integrity, not a matter of accent orvoice level. She refused to compromise when it came to expressing her honest opinion. As aresult, the newly accent-free, soft spoken Sally remained in straitened social circumstances,running a business that attracted all too few customers.

It was the first day of classes for Spring semester. As usual, Morrie had a full roster of students enrolled in his popular course, “Theory and Practice of Tergiversation, Circumlocution and Equivocation.” One of those enrolled was Sally Beeglesdorf-Hannraty. Morrie had his back to the class and was writing on the chalkboard when Sally walked in and took a seat at the front of the room. Morrie turned around, and their eyes met. A jolt passed through them both. It was love atfirst sight.

A flustered Morrie jibbered and jabbered for the first few minutes of the class. Then he pulled himself together and called the roll. Then he fixed his gaze on a spot on the wall at the back of the room, and began to deliver the lecture. Sally found that she could keep from fidgeting and sighing loudly by tuning out Morrie’s voice, and staring fixedly at the blue lines on a page of a spiral notebook that lay open on her desk. She didn’t take a single note. The students, understandably, were bored. It was a painful fifty minutes for everyone.

Finally, to everyone’s relief, the electronic sheep bell that signals the change of classes at LCJC, clanged . The students streamed out. Behind the lecturn, Morrie was uncharacteristicallytongue tied. Sally sat demurely and uncharacteristically silent.

 

“Ms. Beeglesdorf-Hannraty…” Morrie began.

“ Sally,” said Sally, interrupting him.

“And I would be gratified, indeed, warmly appreciative, if you would address me simply as Morrie. That is the sobriquet by which I am known to my nearest and dearest friends,” said Morrie.

“Right,” said Sally.

“If you have no other pressing engagement, my dear Sally, may I induce you toaccompany me to the cafeteria for some light refreshment and a bit of conversation?”

“Sure,” said Sally.

Though they spent two hours sitting across from each other at a small table, neither of them could remember, later, what they had talked about. But somehow they knew that they were going to be part of each other’s lives from then on.

The next time they saw each other was at the second meeting of the class. Morrie wasfeeling ebullient and articulate. He was braced by the thought of seeing Sally again. Sally had spent all morning having her hair done. When she walked into the classroom she was breathlessly excited to see Morrie again.

The class had barely begun when the scales fell from their eyes.

Morrie began his lecture with a brilliant, if somewhat circuitous, explication of euphemisms as a conversational deflection technique. On the chalkboard he diagramed Wallburner’s Euphemistic Deflection Model, and recommended it to the class as a powerful linguistic tool for conversationally disarming friend and foe alike.

“With Wallburner’s Model,” said Morrie, “you can express your opinion articulately andpowerfully, and at the same time prevent your conversational opponent from taking offense.

When you use Wallburner’s Model, you never have to say you’re sorry.”

“What a bunch of crap!”

The words sliced through the air like a laser. There was a collective intake of breath. Morrie’s face froze, his mouth ajar. Dozing students’ eyes popped open. People sat up straight and looked around the classroom, trying to identify the speaker. The voice had been as quiet and well modulated as the words had been crude and combative.

“I beg your pardon,” said Morrie, gazing at Sally.

“I said that’s a bunch of crap,” said Sally. “Euphemistic deflection my hind leg. Where at did you get such baloney at?” she asked in the same quiet, well modulated tone she’d used in the first outburst.

All of a sudden Morrie and Sally were going at each other in what can best be described asa dogfight between a feisty rat terrier and an aloof, purebred afghan hound. Morrie’s eloquentcompound-complex multi-syllabic sentences in defense of euphemisms and decorouscircumlocutions soared with erudition. Sally flamed back with rapid fire four-word zingers andgraphic, monosyllabic epithets. It was a highly stimulating exchange for the students, but it was a very, very grim business for the two combatants.

That night my alien friend KB-11.2 entered the picture. Kaybe, as you’ll recall, looks like agiant tuna fish can. Erector Set™ arms sprout from the curving sides of his body, and three spindly metal legs drop down from the underside of his flat, stainless steel torso.

Decades ago Kaybe taught me Mujerspeak. Today my fluency in that language is a key to my happy home life. Apparently Kaybe is still assigned to do good works in this quadrant of the galaxy, because he beamed himself down to the den where Morrie sat brooding darkly over the romantic train wreck he’d just been through.

Kaybe’s assignment was a tough one, and he carried it out beautifully. He taught Morrie to speak a direct, straight to the point language called Ritefrumdashoulder, and he taught Sally to speak an easygoing, loose-limbed language called Goinroundabarn.

I was invited to their wedding a few weeks later. Toward the end of the ceremony, the minister asked the bride and bridegroom the “do you” question.

Sally replied, “My response is absolutely, indubitably, unquestioningly, totally, andecstatically in the affirmative.”

Morrie said, “Yep.”

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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