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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.”

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Why Do Old People Like Reading the Obituaries?

Duh!  Because we’re OLD.   After one reads the wonderful news of the world and all about  DT and his antics and the antics of the  people state and federal legislatures, and the “foreclosures” and you find that you are not among the foreclosures or among the “police blotter” names,  Well, HELLO!  It’s a JOY to read the obituaries.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor columnist. Download his book of goofy short stories, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia from Amazon.com.

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Cheap Dirt

Maggworth’s Flea Market–excuse me, Maggsworth’s Antique Mall—is named for a guerrilla leader who raided our town and killed a lot of people during the Civil War. Colonel Moriarty Maggsworth was his name, and kill and pillage was his game. He and some of his cohort were later hanged.

Its name is the only thing exciting about the “mall.” The place itself is pretty drab—there’s a bunch of stalls set up in an old warehouse near downtown.

There are jewelry booths, pre-owned clothing stalls, furniture booths, sports card booths, and a both where they sell toilet paper holders made out of armadillo shells. The mall is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. You don’t quit your day job when you open a stall at Maggworth’s Antique Mall. But owning a booth at the mall, or shopping there every weekend does give the townspeople something to look forward to. Other wise they’d be sticking their tongues into electric lamp sockets to break the monotony.

One Saturday morning a stranger came to the mall and asked to rent a booth. There were four or five stalls unoccupied at the time so Ana Maria Symphonia Schultz, president of the mall cooperative association, signed him up, collected a month’s rent and showed him to a stall.

“You’re not going to sell dirty magazines are you?” asked Ana Maria Symphonia.

“No,” said the stranger.

“Good,” she said and went back to the booth where she and her partner Greta Soulsworthy sold exotically contorted ceramic vegetables.

The stranger dusted off the shelves and stacked them with cheap white Styrofoam cups—the kind you buy when it’s your turn to furnish hot cocoa for 150 people at a church bazaar. Then he nailed a board across the front of the booth for a counter and hung up a sign. It was hand lettered and it read: “DiRT fOR SaLE.”

With his merchandise in place the stranger sat down on a folding chair and began reading a magazine.

“Whatcha sellin’?”

“Dirt.”

“What?”

“Dirt.”

“Ya mean DIRT?”

“Yes.”

“Lemme see.”

The stranger handed the man one of the Styrofoam cups.

“It’s fulla dirt.”

“Yes.”

“Hey, Maggie, git over here. This guy’s sellin’ dirt.”

Maggie didn’t respond. She was gazing into a glass case containing several sets of authentic kidney stone earrings. Others, not so deeply absorbed, sauntered over to the stranger’s booth.

“This guy’s sellin’ dirt,” Gertrude’s husband said as a small crowd gathered.

“How much?” asked a pragmatic 13-year-old who had pushed his way to the front.

“The large containers are 75 cents, the middle-sized ones are 50 cents, and the small ones are a quarter, tax included,” said the stranger.

“Where’d the dirt come from,” asked somebody.

“From my back yard,” said the stranger.

“You just dig up dirt in your back yard and bring it in here to sell?”

“Yes.”

“What does it do?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re selling dirt that don’t do nothin’?”

“Yes.”

“Hot dog,” said the man. “I’ll take three big ones and a middle-sized one.” The stranger had sold all his dirt in an hour. He never returned.

-30-

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Miss Minnie Gets Hitched

The invention of cell phones has permitted people everywhere to prove the adage “talk is cheap.” People talk on cell phones as they drive cars, shop, get their hair done, pump gasoline, and while they are standing in long lines at customer service in the supermarket waiting to buy lottery tickets when the Powerball gets above a half a billion dollars. All that blah-blah was nerve wracking to Miss Minniferd Morningstar who had taught English at Letongaloosa High School for the past 32 years. Miss Minnie used to interrupt people at social gatherings and town council meetings to correct their grammar. For her, correct grammar, diction, usage, and syntax were sacred. Folks in town tolerated Miss Minnie’s interrupting their conversations because they were awed by her knowledge of English and because Miss Minnie had inherited piles of money, and was generous with it. Miss Minnie began teaching public school the year she graduated from college. To teach back then you didn’t need a certificate beyond a bachelor’s degree. She went on to get her masters by taking summer classes at State University. It was at State U. that Miss Minnie first saw Reginald Danforth Suggs. Young Suggs had just been hired as a custodian at the School of Education building. Reggie owed his first two names to his mother who hoped he would rise above his working class roots. Reggie rejected those aspirations. He made his own choices about speech and career options. He and Miss Minnie clashed immediately because she walked on the floor of a hallway that Reggie had just mopped. “Lady, getcher clodhoppers offn’ mah floah,” Reggie growled. Minnie gave the barbarian a withering stare. “Are you addressing me, young man?” “Ain’t addressin’ nobody,” said Reggie, “Ahm tellin yew ta quit trompin’ on mah floah.” At that point Professor Blaine, a member of the graduate faculty, opened his office door. He had heard the exchange. “Hello, Miss Minniferd,” he said. “You can pick up your paperwork at the graduate school office down the hall.” And, “That will do, Reggie.” “Hummmph,” said Reggie, and shoved his mop bucket on down the hall. After Minnie had finished her business at the university and returned home, she realized she had mixed feelings about the encounter. The handsome janitor had acted boorishly, but Minnie somehow found herself intrigued. She made subtle inquiries and learned that Reggie had a high IQ, a gift for language, and an aversion to orthodox social behavior. The latter obviously limited his work options. But those options, she soon realized, coincided what with he wanted to do for a living–be a janitor. Reggie always told people he was a janitor–not a custodian, or a “custodial engineer.” After that, Reggie popped into Minnie’s mind at odd moments—as when she took a break from correcting papers, or was fixing a late-night snack. She dismissed the thoughts, but they kept popping up. And Reggie thought off and on about “that teecher woman” too. When they both sought his aid as an intermediary on the same day, Prof. Blaine became the expediter of their budding romance. After a short engagement the extraordinary couple married. It was a two-part wedding. The first ceremony and reception were held in the chapel and recreation room of the Custodial Workers Union Hall. A janitor, who was a lay pastor, presided. The second ceremony took place in the sanctuary of Letongaloosa’s fine old Episcopal Church under the direction of the Rev. Thomas Leon Harper, D.D. The betrothed wrote their own vows. The union hall ceremony, written by Reggie, was short. To wit: “Ah weel if you weel.” To which Minnieferd responded: “Shore.” The reception featured mounds of serve-yourself chicken nuggets, barbeque beef and pork, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, hard rolls and a huge chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. The service at the Episcopal Church, prepared by Minnieferd, lasted an hour, and included two numbers by the choir and short passages from Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and Ezra Pound. The reception featured peach tea and little round mints. Minnie’s vows included five “I do’s,” and four “I wills,” and one “absolutely” spoken on cue by the bride and groom. Minnie and Reggie…Reggie and Minnie…are happilying it ever after. -30-

 

Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School Professor from KU and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon

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Pat & Pete’s Patriotic Party

 

 

 

This is story began years ago when Pete and Pat were forced to take separate vacations. Patrocina Megamecheldorf Samborvich Jones and Pedro Salazar Remirez Sandoval Montoya y Montoya are known around town, for obvious reasons, simply as Pat and Pete. The two had come to Letongaloosa years before and became a couple after having been business rivals.

Pat had wanted to buy the old Peabody home from the city to house a pre-school. Pete wanted to open a pawn shop. After an intense public debate they opted to join forces and share the facility. Together they created a unique business: Pat and Pete’s Preschool and Pawn Shop. During that process they became a couple. They waited five years then got married.

Both Pat and Pete belonged to organizations related to their professions and they usually accompanied each other to annual professional conferences.

One year the two conferences were scheduled at the same time in Seoul, Korea (Pete), and Cartagena, Colombia (Pat). While at those separate conventions Pat and Pete met children they wanted to adopt. They returned to the United States and, with the help of government and nongovernment agencies, were able to adopt four children—two Koreans—Min-jee and his sister Hae-jin; two Colombians— Maria and her brother Hernando.

It took a quite awhile, as described elsewhere, but finally Min-jee and Maria, Hernando and Hae-jin, and Pat and Pete were home, seated together around the dinner table eating dolsot, bimbimbap, and chimicangas.

Hananim-eun uliloull chugbog,” (may God bless us) said Min-jee and Hernando and Maria. “Amen,” said Pat and Pete.

We now fast forward a few years. The children are older, but still young enough to be excited about family vacations, and Pete and Pat were prospering financially to the point that taking a six-person family trip was not the “break the bank” enterprise it would have been just a few years earlier.

For the kids there was one requirement for a vacation—that it be FUN.

For education-minded Pat and Pete, vacation had to be “fruitful” as well as fun.

The ensuing family council was animated. As chair, Pete sometimes exercised authoritative prerogatives not to be found in Robert’s Rules of Order.

But when the meeting ended there was harmony and excitement all round.

The family was going to Washington, D.C. to be present at A Capitol Fourth, where thousands of people gather and millions more watch on television to see the greatest display of Fourth of July fireworks anywhere. The event takes place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

 

While these deliberations were going on, a telephone rang at the White House. The operator told the caller, “One moment please,” and hissed a supervisor standing by, “It’s Nelida Nacamora, from Kansas.” Some readers will recall the story of “Nosey Nelida.” As a shop keeper at a Letongaloosa mall, she blew the whistle on a government sting operation that was aimed at shutting down a major drug ring. To keep the operation secret, the government lauded Nelida for her “vigilance” and gave her an award in a ceremony at the White House. White House staffers remained sensitive to Nelida’s curiosity an investigative skills.

“Put Ms. Nacamora through to the chief of staff’s office,” the supervisor told the White House telephone operator.

“Hello, Mrs. Nacamora. This is IkeWithers, assistant deputy chief of staff.

We’ve spoken before.” “Ike,” said Nellie, who never bothered with formalities, “I’ve got a got news you’ll thank me for.” Nelida then told Mr. Withers about Pat and Pete and their diverse family.

“They’re coming Washington to attend the Capitol Fourth festivities. If you invite them to the White House, and leak their story, the mass media will splash it nationwide. You can promote them as the administration’s first annual “Capitol Fourth Family of the Year.”

A few days later they were sightseeing on the Washington Mall, Pat and Pete and the kids were approached by two men wearing dark suits with insignia in their button holes. And that, dear readers, is how Pat and Pete, Minjee and Hae-jin, and Maria and Hernando got to meet the President of the United States.

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Man In the Mirror ©

This column is a beloved favorite by many, including yours truly. Enjoy!!

 

“Surely,” thought Rip, “I have not slept here all night.”
–Washington Irving, “The Story of Rip Van Winkle,”1819.

My wife, Emmaline and I recently rented the old mountain cabin deep in the
Smoky Mountains where we’ve stayed nearly every year for the past 25 years.
Part of the reason we love going to the cabin is that it looks just as it did the first
time we stayed there back in 1989. It’s how we get away from the world. The
cabin is decades old. Beside the cabin flows a boulder-strewn stream that
begins somewhere high in the tree-covered Appalachians.
The front door of the long, narrow two-room cabin is always unlocked when we
arrive. A key, with a note from the landlady, is always on the table in the
kitchen/living room. After we have unloaded the car, unpacked the suitcases,
and hung clothes in the cabin’s only closet, Emmaline and I have our annual
encounter. It’s about who is going to go shopping.
In the early years I always drove the 10 miles back to the super market on the
main highway for groceries and supplies. Then sometime around the beginning
of the women’s lib movement, I spoke up. I said that grocery shopping should
be a shared activity. That led to negotiations that led to the creation of our
annual encounter. Each year Emmaline and I resolve the grocery-shopping –
duty-problem with a game of “Rocks, Paper, Scissors.”
I won this year’s encounter, and as Emmaline drove away, I headed for the
couch to take a nap. Less than 15 minutes later something woke me, and I
walked back to the bathroom.
I glanced in the mirror above the wash basin. and let out a yip. Instead of my
face in the mirror, there was an old man with a long beard. He wore a tri-corner
hat. He winked at me.
I fled to the living room.
There, standing on the table, was the same diminutive old Dutchman. He wore
an outlandish costume—like one that 18thcentury author Washington Irving
described in his famous short story, “Rip Van Winkle.” Here is Irving’s description
of the man I saw standing on the cabin table:
“He was a short square-built old fellow, with thick bushy hair, and a grizzled
beard. His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion – a cloth jerkin strapped round
the waist – several pair of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, decorated
with rows of buttons down the sides, and bunches at the knees.”
The little old Dutchman beckoned me to follow, hopped nimbly off the table,
and trotted out the front door
I stumbled out onto the wooden deck. The sun was still where it had been when
I lay down for my nap.
I heard what sounded like a gong from the river below, and walked to the edge
of the deck. There on the river bank was my knee-breeched, silver-buttoned
little Dutchman. And lined up along the bank were a dozen more little
Dutchmen, dressed just like him. Each held a small inflated inner tube and a
beer stein . Lying on the river bank was a big, inflated truck inner tube. On a flat
rock beside the inner tube stood a large beer stein.
I waved to the little Dutchmen, and they all raised their steins. I took the
stone stairs two at a time down to the river. I picked up my stein full of foamy
root beer, and hopped on the big inner tube. With a whoop, I pushed off into
the stream.
My Dutchmen friends whooped, hopped onto their inner tubes, and
pushed off into the stream. Then we all lay on our backs, trailed our hands in the
water, and floated merrily, merrily down the stream.
I awoke on the couch—this time for real—to the sound of Emmaline
calling for me to help unload the groceries. Dazed, I made my way to the front
door and looked out. I half expected to see 25-years-younger Emmaline
standing beside our old brown 1987 Plymouth. But fortunately I saw my 2014
Emmaline—looking prettier than ever—walking toward the cabin carrying a bag
of groceries. Then, from far away, I heard the joyful whoops of little Dutchman
voices as my new found friends floated down the mystic stream. If you don’t
believe me, go ask Rip Van Winkle.

 

Please feel free to head over to my website to read the hijinx of the little Dutchmen in my newest column,  Man In the Mirror Redux. www.daydreaming.co

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Drag Street Harlot

 

IMAG-A-SCENE

THE SCENE: A prep school English classroom. The teacher hands a manuscript to a pre-teen student. The teacher speaks:

“While your story, “Drag Street Harlot,” is provocative, Justin, you must realize that it’s derivative.”

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