Dear Smiley: Here in the South, we are fortunate to have the useful phrase, “Bless her heart,” which excuses anything impolite, evil or malicious that comes just before or after it.

In this new age of technology, I think I have discovered the written equivalent: “LOL.”

For example, we can express strong disagreement by typing in all caps, “ABSOLUTELY NOT.”

If that is followed by “LOL,” even if nothing is funny, the sender seems to think it lessens the rudeness, while I still find it offensive.

I suppose I shouldn’t hold it against those people who have adopted the practice.

I guess they just weren’t raised any better — bless their hearts.


Class act

Dear Smiley: After Hurricane Katrina, I went to the LSU AgCenter’s Parker Coliseum, where lost pets were being held and, with identification, picked up.

I remember one of the pet owners vividly.

He was waiting for a small dog that obviously meant a lot to him.

I asked his name. He said “Allen Toussaint.”

He said he had lost his home in New Orleans and was flying to New York City where he had friends.

He had the indefinable aura of a true gentleman: refined, cultured and gracious. In short, he was most memorable.

Not long after that, I saw him on national TV playing jazz piano from New York City, and the light in my questionable brain came on.

Later, I saw him being honored at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

He will perform here at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19, at the Manship Theater.

I knew he was a class act, but not a FAMOUS class act.

He reminded me of a saying on the wall of Kut N Kurl Beauty Salon: “Nice To Be Important But It’s Important To Be Nice.”


Short hop

Dear Smiley: I flew out of Lafayette to the West Coast last week. As we were approaching Dallas, the flight attendant read off the departure gates for those of us with connecting flights.

One of the gates was for the flight to Shreveport.

That guy must not be from around here.

He could have taken a taxi for about the same cost, gotten there at about the same time and kept his shoes on.

HARRY CLARK, Lafayette

Calling Tut

Dear Smiley: About calling kids home:

When I was in the third grade we lived in Morgantown, Kentucky.

It was a very small town, so all the children spent their days outside playing.

One of my classmates was the son of the town doctor. When his daddy wanted him home for anything he would go outside and honk the car horn.

It made a sound like “Tut, tut.”

I never knew if “Tut” Miller had a real name!


Defining “Yat”

Dear Smiley: Not to complain, but do you maybe not know that a Yat is not only a New Orleanian, but one whose grammar is challenged.

Yat is the second word of the greeting, “Where ya at.”

Therefore, not all of those individuals who have the habits and customs we all enjoy are considered Yats … only those who practice them with their “Mama an em.”


The hunger game

Dear Smiley: I don’t know about your reader’s contention that po-boys should be called “poor boys” because they were first fed to “poor” workers in New Orleans.

Maybe the workers talked high-falutin’, but as an LSU student, me, I wuz PO!

JOHN LaCARNA, Baton Rouge

Back to the gorge

Dear Smiley: Mention of the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado brought to mind a family memory.

One summer we went out there, and enjoyed driving across the bridge and riding the cable car down to the bottom of the gorge.

As we got off the car, my daddy, the late Willie O. Hughes, looked straight up at the bottom of the bridge and said. “I’ve been here before.”

Seems he was on a troop train headed out to California during the war, and the train went through the gorge.

Being a south Louisiana boy, don’t you know that gorge must have really made an impression…


Quel fromage!

Dear Smiley: Answering Alex Chapman’s question, “When you take a selfie, do you tell yourself ‘Cheese!’?”

Yes, you can set your cellphone camera to recognize “Cheese” and it will take the photo on hearing the word spoken.


Santa Maria, California

Dear Chapman: Thanks for the information — but I can’t help but find that just a little scary…

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