Maybe my item about being taken in by an “urban legend” — a fictional tale told to me as a true story — brought on a conscience attack:

“I must ‘come clean’ about a letter I wrote to you about 12 years ago,” says Joel Thibodeaux, of Baton Rouge.

“I wrote, ‘It was so foggy last night that our nephew was on his way to the Parish Library on Goodwood to study, but ended up at his girlfriend’s house in Central!’

“We thought people would know it was a joke, but when we talked to acquaintances in the next week or so after you printed it, these people would ask, ‘Who was that who got lost in the fog?’ ‘Which nephew was it?’

“We would have to face them and explain, ‘Oh, that wasn’t true, that was just a joke we made up.’

“Smiley, we really got some dirty looks when we told people it was not true.

“So, to any of your readers who remember that fog story: ‘Sorry, it was just a JOKE!’

“I feel better ... Confession is good for the soul.”

Which reminds me

Speaking of not getting the joke:

I’ve told this one before, to illustrate the pitfalls of trying to be funny:

Once I mentioned the great English poet John Donne in the column — no telling why ... maybe a “for whom the bell tolls” comment.

Just clowning around, I wrote, “You know John Donne — lead singer in Herman’s Hermits.”

I got a number of calls and letters basically telling me I was an idiot, and informing me that Peter Noone was the lead singer in Herman’s Hermits.

Which is why I’ve only been writing about Serious World Issues ever since...

Le game

Tim Palmer says he was pondering the phrase “Pardon my French,” when he got the idea that although golf is said to have originated in Scotland, it could have started in France.

His reasoning: “It seems like all of the ‘French’ I know I picked up on the golf course.”

Hands off

Joan Waguesback Barre, of Metairie, adds to our seminar on door handles:

“My granddaughter, Samantha Barre, sent me a photo of an unusual ladies’ rest room door handle at the Racetrac service station in Covington:

“It’s a long bar designed to be opened with the arm rather than the hand, thus avoiding germ contact.

“I am known to my grandchildren as the ‘hand washing grandmother,’ as I have been telling them ‘Wash your hands!’ since they began walking.

“They are now in their teens and 20s, and still tease me at mealtime, telling me ‘Joanie, we washed our hands.’”

Happy Louisiana Day

Leslie Tassin, this column’s unpaid Louisiana historian, says April 9 was the 333rd anniversary of the Louisiana Territory:

“On this date in 1682, LaSalle erected a cross bearing the arms of France and of its king, Louis XIV, at the mouth of the Mississippi River and read a declaration of the right of King Louis to all the lands drained by the great river. He named Louisiana after King Louis XIV.

“It is a shame that this historic event has been ignored by everyone. You can save the day, Smiley, by printing this in your column. Merci.”

Happy to do it — and I think we should get a day off to observe Louisiana Day!

Highway heroes

Randy West thanks Sgt. Brandon Dietrich of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office:

“On March 3 I saw a wreck on Siegen Lane near the interstate. Thank goodness no one was hurt.

“I wanted to commend Sgt. Dietrich, who went over and above the call of duty in helping.

“Not only did he investigate it, he had them get over to the side of the road to safety.

“It was pouring down rain, and he changed this lady’s tire that was destroyed in the wreck. He was soaking wet.

“He really went out of his way to help. What a wonderful example this deputy sets.”

Special People Dept.

Anton Jordan celebrated his 95th birthday on Sunday, April 12. He is a World War II veteran.

Handle with care

Mike Gauthier, of Thibodaux, says, “The recent article recognizing 50 years of service by Thibodaux organist Gibbens Robichaux mentioned that, of the 1,500 funerals he has done at St. Joseph Catholic Church, two of them involved the bottom of the coffin falling out.

“That brought to mind the funeral experience of our good friend Boudreaux, whose casket was bumped against a wall as it was being carried out of church.

“From inside the coffin the pallbearers heard a faint moan, and discovered that he was indeed still alive.

“He leaped out, did a Cajun two-step and lived another five years before keeling over.

“Once again, a ceremony is conducted and, at the end, as the pallbearers are carrying the casket out the door of the church, Boudreaux’s wife Marie jumps up and yells, ‘Watch the wall, watch the wall!’”

Contact Smiley

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.