Dear Smiley: After reading Claude Nall’s story about letter writing, I was reminded of a post-Hurricane Katrina find.
While going through the flood-ravaged contents of my mother’s house in Chalmette, I came across a box stuffed with letters she had received over the years.
I found a half-dozen or so I had written to her while I was in the Army from ’68 to ’72.
I reread them, thinking I would find some insight into my thoughts at that time.
How chagrined I was to read the rather mundane, humdrum tellings of my routines in the military.
Then it occurred to me that I had to remember one thing:
These were, after all, letters to Mom. Nothing racy or, in many respects, too close to the truth could be put into a letter one writes to his mother.
Teaching that sticks
Dear Smiley: I can certainly sympathize with people who get “earworm” tunes stuck in their heads. I’ve gotten more than one from reading your column in the last week or so.
But I have another earworm problem.
It has to do with my ninth-grade English teacher in Reading, Pennsylvania, Miss Fehr.
She was very strict with us about grammar and corrected us mercilessly in front of our classmates for any spoken error.
Her admonitions have been with me for over 50 years.
Here’s my problem. One of the things she would fuss about was “less” vs. “fewer.”
“No, no, no!” she would rant. “If you can count it, it’s ‘fewer,’ not ‘less!’ ”
So now, whenever I hear or read about Les Miles, her voice comes back to me: “Not Les Miles, Fewer Miles!”
I can’t get it out of my head. Thank goodness football season is over.
Where’s the unleaded?
Dear Smiley: Would you pass this on, please?
I quit drinking alcohol about five months ago, but I still enjoy a cold beer. It’s just that now I drink the nonalcoholic brands.
My request is for all the bar/lounge owners in the area to start stocking these nonalchoholic beers.
I still enjoy going out to listen to bands, go dancing or stop and have a cold one with the guys after work.
Also, if you go out with a group of people, you can be the designated driver.
Problem is, hardly anyone has this type of beer in their cooler. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way.
A gift for confusion
Dear Smiley: Last year on March 21, my Texas son, Don, sent a shipment of roses for my birthday on March 23. I immediately sent him a “thank you” email.
The next day, I received more roses with a fancy vase and chocolates from him.
I called him at work. He laughed and said, “Yesterday I went from work to the grandson’s baseball game, and when we got home, there was a shipment of tulips at my door. I called the company and told them I had ordered roses for my mom, Mrs. Zeek, in Baton Rouge, and they had sent tulips to Mrs. Zeek in Dickinson.”
They had apologized and promised to send a special shipment to Baton Rouge.
Later that night, he checked his email and found my note thanking him for the roses. He called the florist back and asked them to cancel the order, but they said it was too late and for me to just give the roses to someone who needed flowers. I did.
The next Saturday, their son (my grandson) was at their home for dinner and said, “Oh, the tulips I sent Mom are still very pretty.”
“YOU sent those?”
“Yes, it was the first day of spring, and I know how much she loves tulips.”
Dear Smiley: As a younger sister, I used to torture my sister Kathy with a song of my making that I sang to the tune of “The Ballad of Cat Ballou.”
It went like this: “Kathy Lou, she is mean and evil through and through. …”
Her name was Katherine Louise, so I thought that it was very fitting at the time.
Now we are best friends, and I have decided that she wasn’t evil after all.
Things change as you get older.
Sound of the hound
For us, it was the title of Arthur Conan Doyle’s book, “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”
Said in a low voice with appropriate big eyes, the title sounds really scary.
One night, little Michael came out of his room with saucer eyes. He had heard something outside his window and he was sure it was “The Hound of the Baskerballs.”
I know a few “baskerball” hounds.
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.