Dear Smiley: Watching the Barry Seal movie the other night, I was reminded of a trip I took with my good friend Tony Dugas when he was trying to negotiate a contract with the Guatemalan government to build some naval vessels.

He said to me, “I’ve hired an interpreter, but I want you to come with me to help in the negotiations.”

Being the friend that he was, and knowing my fee would be "O," I decided to make the trip.

We were put up in a hotel in the capital, Guatemala City, and told to wait there for the commander of the navy.

At about 2 a.m. there was a knock at the door. I opened it, and froze when three guys with machine guns approached, with a middle-aged man with so many medals on his coat he had trouble standing erect.

The interpreter spoke at about 90 words per second in response to questions, and thick contracts were placed before Tony and me. I said, “Dugas, I ain’t gotta clue!” To which he responded, “Hell, I’m going to sign it!” He did, and built many boats that were PAID for!

TONY FALTERMAN

Napoleonville

Screams in the dark

Dear Smiley: It's very dark at 6 a.m. here at the homestead. Streetlights do not illuminate my yard very well.

I just used the port-a-pot I have on my property during my house's restoration. I stepped out of it, letting the door slam behind me. I heard blood-curdling screams, and nearly had a stroke from the sudden sounds.

The screams came from three teenage girls walking on the sidewalk past my house on their way to school. We all scared the bejesus out of each other. We got quite a nervous laugh out of this.

But … I may need to use the port-a-pot again.

TOM SYLVEST

Baton Rouge

His first haiku

Dear Smiley: I had no idea what a "haiku" was, so after seeing it in your column for the last couple of weeks, I finally decided to Google it to satisfy my curiosity.

I discovered that a haiku has three lines, with the first line having five syllables, the second line having seven syllables and the third line having, once again, five syllables.

With my newly found knowledge of a haiku, try this one:

Crawfish, crabs and shrimp

Are best in Louisiana

No doubt about it

RONNIE MELANCON

Gretna

Dear Ronnie: Not a bad first effort, but it works only if you pronounce the state LOOS-i-an-a rather than LOO-WEZZ-i-an-a, which gives that line one too many syllables.

Grandpa's nets

Dear Smiley: Reading the Monday column article about knitting cast nets brought back memories of my childhood, when my grandfather knitted many cast nets on the front porch.

He gave a few nets to his friends and sold a few for his spending cash, which Grandma never knew about.

Years passed, and when my son was a toddler Grandpa knitted a three-foot net for him, which I still have.

Grandpa proudly went shrimping with his nets at the seawall at Lake Pontchartrain, and brought shrimp home for family and friends. Ah, those good old days!

JOYCELYN DITTMAR

Carriere, Mississippi

Calling Dr. Hots

Dear Smiley: Readers’ tales of tonsils being sent home in a jars of formaldehyde reminded me of one of my hospital stays in 1979, when I was principal of Baton Rouge High.

One Monday, after a delicious lunch of red beans and rice with guest (and Istrouma legend) H.E. “Hots” Aull, at the time a School Board member, I became stricken with excruciating pain.

Mr. Aull diagnosed my problem: “Fat, fifty, and flatulent are symptoms of a bad gall bladder. You meet two out of three — get it checked.”

A sonogram the next day confirmed Hots’ diagnosis. Dr. Farmer performed the surgery, and sent me home with a jar full of stones that looked like wisdom teeth in need of a good cleaning. I kept them on display on my mantel until my wife prevailed upon me to toss them in the garbage can.

LEE FAUCETTE

Baton Rouge

Louisiana Haiku

Mardi Gras music

Professor Longhair still rules

Down in New Or-leans

Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.