The “bollards,” steel poles that pop up to close off roadways, were installed around the State Capitol to keep people away from this public building.

They have worked well in achieving this objective, but some of the people who have been kept away aren’t happy about it.

These include a legislator and, on Thursday, a Jindal administration official, two of 14 people who have had their vehicles smashed by the high-tech barriers.

The erudite Robert Downing has an interesting perspective on the devices:

“Since the 16th century and the use of the petard (a metal cone filled with explosives) to blow open gates to forts, ‘hoist with your own petard,’ has meant injury by the device you intended to use to injure others.

“Since no one knows what a petard is anymore, I suggest we use: ‘Hoist on his own bollard.’”

Insulted butcher

Vallan Corbett says, “While I worked in my husband’s dental practice, a professor from LSU asked my husband if he would examine his mother. He knew she was sick, and she wouldn’t go to the doctor but said she would meet the dentist. The professor thought maybe my husband could give him some insight.

“His mother lived in back Moreauville; a strong, proud woman. When she came as a patient, I sat with her and thought, ‘What do we have in common — ah, cooking.’

“So I asked her if she had ever made chicken and dumplings; I didn’t know how.

“She said, ‘You go get an old tough hen, one that no longer lays …’ and the directions went on.

“So I went to Mr. Leo, the butcher at Calandro’s Supermarket, and told him I needed ‘an old tough hen.’

“He quickly told me, ‘Calandro’s doesn’t sell old tough hens,’ and walked off.”

Say what?

I’m still having fun with the stories of word misuses. Here are a few more:

——Francis N. Mouillé tells of a man he knew in Lafayette who had a business on Bertrand Drive:

“During a conversation, the gentleman complained about the traffic and the careless manner in which some drove, saying, ‘The other day a car came rotating around the curve and almost had a head-on collusion.’”

— Craig Cearnal says, “My wife and I were visiting the aquarium in New Orleans years ago. Standing in front of the glass wall, a stingray was suspended just in front of us.

“My wife said, ‘Look, he’s hoovering!’”

— Carole Flint says, “My dad, Alvin Hall, tells of a fellow here in Ethel who was named a pallbearer, and told my dad he was going to be a ‘ball bearing’ in a funeral.”

— Christopher Fontenot, of St. Amant, says, “Had a conversation with a coworker, and he told me he was originally from Jeanerette.

“Back in the day, he says, he used to work at the ‘Fruit-a-balloon’ plant.”

Inquiring Minds Dept.

— Phil Soesbe says, “I thought there were once hedges in Death Valley; my friend tells me there never were.

“Since neither of us is ever wrong, and I couldn’t find any info on the Web or from LSU, I thought Smiley or one of his friends might know.”

(I don’t recall hedges, but I do recall the boxes for fans at ground level, which wouldn’t be possible with hedges.)

— Charlotte Lachicotte says, “Seeing your readers’ contributions of malapropisms and mixed metaphors, I thought perhaps someone out there can explain two I don’t understand.

“An elderly gentleman from ‘down the bayou’ called the sweater vest he often wore a ‘half-a-sweater,’ as in ‘Bring me my half-a-sweater.’

“Also, if he wanted the crust trimmed off his sandwich, he would say, ‘Cut off the bark.’

“I was sure those must have been literal translations from the French, but my French-English dictionary did not have those equivalents. Can anyone out there explain his wording?”

Special People Dept.

— Minnie Lou Hutchinson celebrates her 92nd birthday on Monday, Sept. 28. She is the retired clerk of the Village of Tangipahoa, with 44 years service.

— Helen Zumo celebrates her 91st birthday on Monday, Sept. 28.

— Catherine Gegenheimer celebrates her 91st birthday on Monday, Sept. 28.

— On Monday, Sept. 28, Edith G. LeBlanc, of Gonzales, celebrates her 90th birthday.

Bargain shopping

Robert DeBate says, “My wife of 52 years saw an ad for hearing aids in The Advocate that read, ‘40 percent off for our 40th year in business.’

“She believes my hearing has diminished, and suggested I inquire.

“I responded, ‘I’ll just wait until their 100th year in business and get them for free.’”

Half measures

Tim Cockerham says he overheard this in a doctor’s office: “You know, I spent the first half of my life trying to kill myself; now I’m spending the second half trying to save myself!”

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.