This column’s chief fiscal consultant, Kristen Scott, of Lacombe, offers this sobering analysis:

“There seems to be a lack of money on all levels: federal, state, local, personal.

“Obviously, we are now in a position in which we cannot afford ourselves.”

That’s depressing!

Speaking of sobering thoughts, here’s one from Joe Balfour about our series on conversational issues:

“If you’re over 70 and you really want to shorten conversations, eliminate this phrase at the beginning of sentences:

“ ‘This friend of mind, who’s dead now.’ ”

Love and marriage

Longtime column contributor and my buddy since LSU journalism school days in “you don’t need to know how long ago,” Dudley Lehew, of Marrero, responds to Sarah Stravinska’s Wednesday request about whether multiple marriages qualifies a couple for a mention in the “Special People” section of the column:

“I get a big kick telling folks that Mary and I have been married 76 years, which is true! She was married 23 years and I was married 25 years, and we have been married 28 years since meeting when we were single again.

“So, 76 years of marriage, and 77 coming up soon.”

For better or worse

The above-mentioned Sarah Stravinska asks, “Since you answered my query about couples who have stayed married to the same person for 50 years, I now have a new question.

“Does their Social Security check include combat pay?”

Speaking of marriage

In our Great Quotes Department, Pat Alba, of Metairie, likes this one:

“When Mrs. Churchill was asked, ‘How are you enjoying Sir Winston’s retirement?’ she replied, ‘Well, I married him for better or worse, but not for lunch.’ ”

I’ll drink to that!

I can’t let the subject of marriages, single and plural, go by without telling this story:

One evening many years ago, in my single days, I was having a drink with a young lady at Baton Rouge’s old Bombay Bicycle Club (now TJ Ribs).

I was telling her that if I had remained married to my first wife, that day would have been our 25th anniversary.

A guy across the bar heard the words “25th anniversary,” and sent us a couple of drinks to celebrate the occasion.

We acknowledged his gift with a wave and nod, but didn’t want to embarrass him by explaining the true situation.

I’m considerate like that…

Know your beer

Val Garon, of Prairieville, who operates our Fountainhead of Useless Knowledge, adds to our discussion of old New Orleans beers:

“Regal beer was a lager as opposed to an ale. They advertised, ‘Remember, Regal is lager spelled backwards!’”

The collector

Glenn Giro, of Denham Springs, says, “I still have an unopened bottle of Regal beer.

“Obviously, it has lost its effervescence (and, I assume, its flavor) over the years, and occupies a place on my bookshelf next to my Diet-Rite Root Beer can and my 10-ounce Budweiser can/cigarette lighter.”

Dangerous item

The above-mentioned Glenn Giro offers, “A word of caution to those who carry P 38 can openers (Army issue openers for C rations) on their keychains.

“I learned online of a veteran who had his confiscated at an airport by a TSA agent as a weapon. It had been given to him by his father, a World War II veteran.

“He never got it back.”

Thought for the Day

From T-Bob Taylor, of Panama City Beach, Florida: “What is experience? It is that asset that allows us to recognize when we repeat a mistake.”

Got books?

Pat Hoth reminds us that the Friends of the LSU Libraries’ annual Book Bazaar is March 3-5 in the 4-H Mini Barn and Nelson Building behind the Ag Center Coliseum, from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. To volunteer to help, contact Pat at

Special People Dept.

On Thursday, Connie Tedford celebrates her 98th birthday.

Alvin and Lily Fairchild, of St. Gabriel, celebrate their 61st anniversary on Thursday.

Valuable information

“Who knew your column was so educational?” says Melissa LeSage.

“I watched ‘Jeopardy’ on Feb. 18, and one of the questions was what is the slang term for a bottle opener.

“I only knew the answer was ‘church key’ because of the recent discussions in your column.”

Doug Johnson, of Watson, evidently watched the same quiz show, and reports that none of the three contestants came up with the answer. He adds, “They all appeared to be under 40.”

There’s yet another reason to read this column: It may enable you to win money or valuable prizes on quiz shows!

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.