Christian “Pete” Sarrat, of New Orleans, says, “I have been following the grits stories, and thought I would send you an international story.

“While cruising the ‘Blue Danube’ in a party of eight, we sat at dinner the first night aboard. Our waiter was a Hungarian, and super efficient, even though he had some problems with English.

“He asked if there were any special requests for breakfast. In a joking mood, we asked for grits.

“A look of consternation come over his face and he asked, ‘What’s grits?’

“We told him, and he went to the galley and returned to tell us, ‘Chef says no grits.’

“That night dinner was served, and on the menu was polenta. One of our companions saw it and said, ‘Grits!’

“I told our waiter to have the chef chill the remaining polenta, cut it in squares, dip it in egg and fry it for breakfast.

“My wife said I was crazy; they would never remember that in the morning.

“When breakfast was served, our waiter returned to the galley and came out with a huge smile on his face and a platter of fried polenta! We were cracked up over what they had done.

“The next table was occupied by 10 French women, and they demanded to know what had the Americans gotten and they had not!”

State of confusion

Another pre-GPS story:

Ron Sammonds Jr., of Baton Rouge, says, “In 1990 I was sponsoring the bicycling merit badge for my son’s Boy Scout troop.

“The requirements included several 25-mile rides, and we planned one anchored at Jackson in East Feliciana Parish.

“I had a U.S. Geological Survey map, and I’d scouted the route with my car the previous weekend, but riding 12 miles north on bicycles with 10 youngsters and a trailing safety van, I kept expecting to begin looping back south to Jackson.

“I eventually asked for help from two fellows waiting at a stop sign at a very rural intersection. After spreading my map on the hood of their car and studying it for a minute or so, one said, ‘But this is a map of Louisiana!’

“After realizing my error, we continued on north to Woodville, Mississippi, loafed around a while, piled the bikes onto the trailer and the kids into the van, and returned to Baton Rouge after a really nice outing.”

Creative directions

— Bill Humphreys, of New Orleans, says, “When I was stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, I asked my landlord for directions to a nearby town.

“He said, ‘Go down the road and turn where the old canning factory used to be.’

“These directions were actually useful in daylight, when you could see the ruins of the canning factory.”

— L.P. Miller says, “Having a big party at my place Saturday. Bring all the beer and food you can consume.

“Easy to find: Take the old dirt road, go to last stop sign, hang a right, proceed to where the big oak tree used to be, take a left.

“See ya!”

— Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville, tells this story: “A man was driving through Opelousas looking for the Lou Ana plant and got lost.

“He pulled up next to a gent walking down the sidewalk carrying two watermelons and asked for directions to Lou Ana.

“The man stopped, dropped to one knee, and gently put down each watermelon.

“He stood up, raised his hands, shrugged his shoulders, and said, ‘Mais, I don’t know.’”

Cutting remarks

Ronnie Domas says on Saturday, Jan. 9, Charles Tramonte of Charley T’s Barber Shop in Baton Rouge celebrated his 50th year cutting hair:

“Charlie has gone to customers’ homes, hospitals and numerous other places to serve his customers who couldn’t come to his shop. A great guy and a great barber!”

Special People Dept.

— Phyllis Shanahan, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 97th birthday Saturday, Jan. 16.

— Mercedes Lorraine Cambas Barbay, of New Orleans, celebrates her 95th birthday Sunday, Jan. 17, at a family “pot luck/pajama party.”

— Bill Noonan, of Baton Rouge, one of my favorite contributors, celebrates his 90th birthday Saturday, Jan. 16.

— George and Marlene Hill Milton, of Walker, celebrated their 55th anniversary Thursday, Jan. 14.

Take that!

In our Creative Insults Dept., Mike Montagnino, of Greenwell Springs, offers, “That boy was about as useless as a sidesaddle on a hog.”

Joe Balfour, of Metairie, says, “I once told my teenage son he was so lazy he thought ‘manual labor’ was the president of Mexico.”

John Torbert says, “My granddaddy said I was so lazy I needed to ‘put a cat in my bosom to breathe for me.’”

Tom Pertuit, of Gonzales, says, “One of my best friends at Baton Rouge High was George Bourke. His father, a real character, would say (usually talking about me), ‘If you put his brain in a penny box of matches it would rattle like a BB in a boxcar.’”

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.