Harry Clark, of Lafayette, this column’s senior fiscal advisor, tells me of his modest proposal for solving the state’s current money shortage:

“It seems that the state has some budget problems. You might pass on this suggestion:

“Levy a .5 percent sales tax on Texas.

“They have a lot of money and a lot of people, and probably won’t even notice.

“There are probably some details that need to be worked out, but I have always been a ‘big idea’ guy. Others can work out the details.”

Ushering in trouble

Mike Romano says, “When I moved to Lake Rosemound many, many years ago, I decided I wanted to volunteer at our church and become an usher.

“I thought that would be the easiest job, and I would meet my new friends this way.

“I was given the OK, and the next Sunday I was at Mass early, looking over the church and the seating arrangements.

“I started seating people, and soon realized that many of them gave me an unpleasant facial expression when I seated them.

“I did not know until after Mass that people had their own places in church, and no one could take their places.

“One old lady came up to me as I was walking down the steps after church was over and said to me that if I keep putting people in the wrong places (waving her hand and purse at me), Our Heavenly Father has a special pew for me down below, where I will never get anybody in this church mad again!

“Well, this ended my short-lived ushering career.”

Which reminds me

My dad, Smiley Sr., was always the greeter at the churches he joined in his lifetime — three Episcopal and a Methodist.

He’d station himself at the front door of the church and welcome the men with a handshake and the women with a hug.

As far as I know, this was a self-appointed position — I don’t think he ever asked anyone in authority if he could do it.

I once asked him why he did the greeting, since it involved getting up very early on Sunday morning to be the first one at church.

He replied, “Where else can you get to hug 50 ladies before noon?”

Who knows?

Blaine responds to Doug Johnson’s suggestion in the Saturday column that getting rid of “like” could shorten conversations by 50 percent:

“We could shorten conversations by another 25 percent if we could also get rid of ‘you know.’”

(But Blaine, that could mean the end of interviews with sports figures...)

Speaking of speaking

Jack Coffee, of Sunset, also responds to the discussion of conversational baggage:

“I noted Doug Johnson’s observation of how all conversations seem to be started with ‘so.’

“While Doug is correct, my observation has been of the talking heads appearing on TV as an expert in something or another.

“Many will talk for a bit, then begin again by saying, ‘I mean...’ and continue for another few minutes, mostly repeating what they just told us but using different words.”

Not Flossie!

Tom Sylvest says, “I allowed the ‘chellspeck’ phantom full reign when I attempted to spell ‘Flessie’ in my recent submission to your fine column.” (He told of the recovery of the huge flamingo/dragon figure after it was stolen last year at Spanish Town Mardi Gras festivities).

He says the figure is named after “Nessie,” the Loch Ness Monster, which it rather resembles.

I should have caught the “Flossie” in Tom’s story — while Flossie is an OK name for a toy poodle or a fluffy kitten, it just won’t do for a scary figure like Flessie.

Special People Dept.

Lillian Templet Bouchereau, of Donaldsonville, celebrates her 98th birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Her brother, Odon “Ki Ki” Templet, also of Donaldsonville, celebrates his 95th birthday on Tuesday also.

Edmond Labat celebrates his 93rd birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Sam and Ruby Bellina celebrate 69 years of marriage on Tuesday, Feb. 16. He is a World War II veteran and a resident of the Louisiana War Veterans’ Home in Jackson.

Thought for the Day

From John L. Guillory: “You can’t help getting old, but you can be immature forever.”

Bottom line

Gail Stephenson, of Baton Rouge, tells this Mardi Gras parade story:

“Walking back to the car after the Spanish Town parade, we stopped to rest, piling our bags of loot on the ground.

“Daughter-in-law Bonny looked at the overflowing bounty of beads and toys and exclaimed loudly, ‘Look at that booty!’

“All heads in the vicinity immediately turned toward a nearby over-endowed woman who was bending to pick up her own bags of loot, leaving Bonny protesting, ‘I meant treasure!’”

Contacting 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.