Dear Smiley: Many years ago I accompanied my good friend and boat builder, Tony Dugas, on a second trip to Guatemala to assist in a contract negotiation with its navy.
As guests of the very powerful commandant, we were brought to the presidential palace (Palacio Nacional).
The building is supposedly where all of the roads in Guatemala originate, and in it is a spot known as Kilometro Cero (Zero Kilometer), which is in the center of a room marked by a star, where "EL Presidente" can stand and speak.
The acoustics are so good that a pin dropped on the star can be heard throughout the room.
As a wanna-be politico, I was allowed to stand on the star in my jeans and cowboy boots and give a short discourse on my plans for the country ("I guess you’re wondering why I have you all gathered here…").
It was short-lived, but Tony said he’d vote for me just to get rid of me as sheriff of Assumption Parish.
Dear Tony: I thought I'd seen some pretty scary stuff for Halloween, but the thought of you running a whole country is REALLY chilling!
Failure to communicate
Dear Smiley: This is a true story, re your recent language barrier stories.
Many years ago, an LSU student from China went to get a physical. Her doctor checked her and sent her for an X-ray.
The technician prepped her and told her to "Hold your breath."
Which the student heard as "Hold your breasts."
They took another X-ray…
Never on Saturday
Dear Smiley: The recent stories about avoiding unpleasant things by signing up for some alternative organization or activity (such as a band) reminded me of Geology 51 at LSU.
In my time the most dreaded event was Saturday morning classes. My undergraduate degree was in geology, and if you were enrolled in Geology 51 (field geology), you could not be assigned Saturday classes due to scheduled field trips on Saturdays.
It was a sophomore class, but if you signed up and then dropped later before the drop date, you avoided the curse.
I did finally complete the course in my senior year — and noticed I had some old friends accompanying me.
Age of discovery
Dear Smiley: Having just turned 64, I’ve got to say that the most shocking change I’ve noticed regarding my body is the difficulty in getting in and OUT of the bed of my pickup.
Until about age 50, I could always just jump out of the bed and onto the ground, a distance of two feet, without a second thought.
Now, it’s become a circus act of climbing into the bed and gently lowering myself out. I wasn’t mentally prepared for that when it came around. Nobody told me…
ALEX "SONNY" CHAPMAN
Hell of a note
Dear Smiley: I was riding one of those long escalators at the Atlanta Airport recently when the guy behind me asked this question: "Why is it stairway to heaven, but highway to hell?"
I think it was a rhetorical question, and I didn't have an answer; but another guy on the escalator gave him a prompt response: "Because a highway can accommodate more people."
Dress code blues
Dear Smiley: Your recent tie stories reminded me of this OLD joke:
A guy is lost in the desert. He sees someone in the distance, so he staggers up to him and pleads. "Water! Water!"
The other guy says, "I don't have any water. I'm a tie salesman. Do you want to buy a tie?"
The first guy just repeats, "Water! Water!"
So the tie salesman says, "About an hour that way, over that dune, there's a restaurant that has water."
The first man staggers off in that direction. About four hours later, he returns, crawling on his hands and knees. He's sunburned and near death, crying, "Water! Water!"
The tie salesman says, "I thought you went to the restaurant. You didn't get any water there?"
And the thirsty guy says, "They wouldn't let me in without a tie."