“A friend told this story on himself,” says Harry Clark, of Lafayette.

“A few years ago, there was an infomercial running all the time on the high-number TV channels featuring Tony Little, a muscular little fellow with a blond ponytail.

“He was selling a workout machine called ‘The Gazelle’ that simulated walking by standing on steps that were suspended from a frame and swung back and forth.

“During the presentation, he had a really cute girl working out on the thing. Most of the footage was from behind her, and I must say it was attention-getting.

“Every time my friend would come across this commercial, he would stop and watch it for a couple of minutes.

“On Christmas morning, his wife presented him with a Gazelle.

“She explained that she had noticed his interest in the apparatus and just knew he would love it.

“ ‘I had to work out on that damn thing for about three weeks before I could start gracefully using it to hang clothes on,’ he told me.”

Invading Destrehan

The Advocate’s move into the New Orleans market has resulted in this column gaining a lot of new readers and contributors, making my job more fun than ever.

I’ve been trying to get down that way to meet new column readers and tell them how much I appreciate them, and I’ve got another chance to do that on Saturday.

I’ve been invited to The German Coast Farmers Market, held from 8 a.m. to noon at Ormond Plantation in Destrehan. There, I’ll be meeting and greeting the folks, telling bad jokes and signing my books, “Best of Smiley” and “Smiley! A Laughing Matter.”

The market’s a major community event, featuring music, chefs, running events and, on Saturday, the Easter Bunny.

By the way, the market newsletter bills me as “The New Orleans Advocate’s slice-of-life columnist,” which is a pretty cool designation.

Drinking problem

An anonymous reader says our seminar on canned meats reminded her of the time her son was traumatized when he saw a guy eat the little Vienna sausages “and then upend the can and drink the liquid.”

In the guy’s defense, he was a sports reporter, and I guess when you have to live on press box hot dogs, you take your nourishment where you can.

Our reader adds, “As a kid, my son liked vienna sausages, but after that sight, he still can’t look at them.”

Still, it must not have scarred him too much, because he went into the reporting business himself. …

Special People Dept.

On Thursday Joan Oppenheim, longtime New Orleanian, now a Metairie resident, celebrates her 95th birthday. She’s a regular volunteer at the World War II Museum.

Doing the wave

Doug Johnson, of Watson, commenting on recent column items, says, “It’s good to hear about people who give names to inanimate objects like potholes and fountains, and even speak to them.

“Now I won’t feel so silly when I wave back at blow-up Santas and snowmen each December.”

The 1 percent

Harry Clark, of Lafayette, says, “When I was a kid, we lived next door to some rich people. Their kids had a white sidewall tire swing.”

Cross purposes

Algie Petrere, this column’s corny-joke editor, sent over a collection of chicken jokes best described as “groaners.”

But this one got a chuckle in addition to a groan:

“What do you get when you cross a chicken and a pit bull?

“Just the pit bull.”

One-shoe server

Sharon Detlefs contributes to our collection of altar mishaps:

“When our son, Drew, was a fourth-grade acolyte at Broadmoor Methodist Church (a reluctant participant doing what his mother wanted him to do), it came his turn to light the candles before the service in the sanctuary. That Sunday, wouldn’t you know it, we overslept and had to rush to get him dressed.

“I yelled at Drew to bring his shoes; he could put them on in the car to save time. As we were driving up to the church, Drew told me that he had picked up two left shoes by accident.

“Since we had no time to go back home, we rushed into the sanctuary to tell the other acolyte he would be doing the job by himself, since Drew had only one shoe.

“But the other acolyte didn’t show up, so the flustered usher said Drew would have to do it with one shoe, which he did with no problem.

“As the service began, a squirrel could be seen running around in the front of the church behind the podium, in full view. Of course, he had the attention of all the congregation.

“As Dr. Simmons began his sermon, he said, ‘Well, folks, we’ve already had an acolyte with one shoe and a frisky squirrel attending service this morning, so everybody stay awake. These things happen in threes, right?’ ”

Write Smiley at Smiley@ theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.

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