We’ve had several stories about people using their hands in conversation.

But John C. Loe, of Baton Rouge, issues a warning about misreading hand gestures:

“I was leaving a gas station, attempting to make a right onto Essen Lane near I-10 — with bumper-to-bumper traffic on Essen.

“A gentlemen in an SUV was at a stop on Essen, just short of being in front of me, and was waving his right hand back and forth vigorously.

“I took this as a kind invitation for me to proceed in front of him.

“When the traffic moved a little I eased into the gap — whereupon he laid on his horn and gave me some not-so-nice gestures.

“That’s when I noticed he had a phone ear bud in his left ear.

“Must have been in an animated conversation!”

Define “change”

Mona Cancienne, of Donaldsonville, says, “My friend Thelma Acosta told me about her daughter Vickie’s conversation with Vickie’s daughter Avery, age 7.

“Thelma had to drive Avery to her gymnastics class, and usually gives her a dollar to buy a snack.

“She didn’t have a dollar bill, so she gave her a five dollar bill and told her to be sure and bring her the change from the five dollars.

“That afternoon, after gym class, Vickie asked Avery if she had the change from the $5 that her Nanna had given her.

“She said, ‘Sure,’ and handed her two quarters.

“Vickie asked her if that was all she had left from the $5.

“She said, ‘Nanna said she wanted the change. She didn’t say anything about the dollars.’”

Snow kidding

T. Med Hogg’s cold-weather story:

“My cousin Jack Hogg lived in the Frozen Nawth He got tired of all the snow and decided to move to a southern clime.

“He put a snow shovel over his shoulder and headed south.

“When he came to a place where someone asked him what that was he was carrying, he settled down.

“That was in Van Buren, Arkansas.”

Running in ringers

Roy Pitchford, of Monroe, says, “Back in the days when LSU football fans were invited to ‘Rise and join in singing our National Anthem,’ I invited Curtis Bryan, the music director at Zoar Baptist Church, and his wife Lorraine to join me for the game.

“Both had great voices and had studied opera, and when they rose and joined in the singing, heads turned all around the upper deck of the South End Zone.”

Thunderous reaction

Brenda Sharp questions Mr. Answer Man’s answer to a question about the Cajun French phrase used by the late Vernon Roger after tasting a dish he’d cooked on TV:

“It actually was: ‘Tonnaire mon chiens, ca c’est bon, oui!’ (‘Thunder my dogs, that’s good, yeah.’)

“By the way, Mr. Answer Man, aren’t you from Mississippi?”

Yes, Mr. Answer Man is indeed from Mississippi — but Vernon himself gave him the phrase he used in his answer: “Tonnaire, amis, mais ca c’est bon, oui!”

Musical interludes

More comments about songs stuck in your head, aka “earworms:”

Val Garon says, “Please inform Carl Spillman that I will relieve him of his ‘Those Were the Days’ earworm if he will take ‘Colonel Bogey’s March’ (from ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’) in return.

“He can even whistle it like they did in the movie! I’ll play his song on my air guitar!”

A reader called to say her beauty parlor ladies agreed that “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” was a song they could never get out of their heads (for some reason).

She sang it to me over the phone — seemed to be the Bessie Smith version.

Jay Marshall offers some positive thinking about earworms:

“I am enjoying an earworm called ‘Stranger on the Shore,’ and I hope it stays with me for a long time.

“I know you can identify when I say that those were the great days of music.”

Creative lawn care

Fay Weilbaecher, of Covington, tells of her “seafood gumbo disaster:”

“I was so excited because we were going to have guests for dinner in our new house. I started early and had at least five different gumbo recipes I was following.

“It was almost finished except for putting in the last thing, the gumbo filé, and off I went to dress.

“When I returned, I couldn’t believe my eyes — it was a bright pea green, bubbling like it was alive. When I tried to stir the gumbo, the spoon just stood up by itself in the pot and I had a hard time pulling it out.

“I had figured more filé was better, so I HAD USED THE WHOLE BOTTLE.

“We ordered a pizza and buried the gumbo, pot and all, in our backyard.

“That patch of ground has the most beautiful grass in the entire yard.”

Contact Smiley

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.