Dear Smiley: Your recent pieces on alligators reminded me of an experience many decades ago, when I lived and worked in Southeast Asia.

I had occasion to spend several weeks on the island of Biak, in a small "guesthouse" with some VIP rooms — their own fans and bathrooms.

The owner proudly showed me a sideline business: a row of concrete crocodile pits underneath our guest room wing. He said they liked the dark and cool area under our rooms. He sold their skins to a Japanese buyer.

I told him here in Louisiana we also used the tail meat as a fine delicacy. He gave me a sideways look, started to say something, and then changed his mind. He always gave me funny looks after that.

Later that night I learned one of his other sidelines. I had noticed some empty sheds in back of the guesthouse. As I was going to sleep, I heard the most godawful noises — grunts, squeals, bangs and thumps were coming from the sheds. He kept his hogs out in a field, but brought them into the sheds at night. The noises went on all night long.

Anytime someone offers you a choice of roommates, take the crocs — they're quiet, polite (they smile), and are not odiferous. Hogs, not so much.



Today's lagniappe

Dear Smiley: You have to give credit to the salesmanship of TV advertising.

I just saw a “gotta have” car cellphone holder being hawked. Right after the “But wait!” moment, they not only offered the two for one special (just pay shipping), they also offered a pack of 15 free breathing masks. Never let a crisis go to waste.


Ville Platte

Kick the habit

Dear Smiley: While wearing a face mask in public during the COVID-19 pandemic, I've become acutely aware of a habit that has increased significantly over my many years: licking the index finger of my right hand to turn a page or rifle through, sort and separate pages of a pamphlet, newspaper, magazine, book, etc.

Each time I do this in public, I'm reminded that if I didn't wear a mask, I and others who lick our fingertip to turn a page, etc., could get or leave infectious viruses and bacteria on paper.

Because COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, all of us finger-licking people should protect ourselves by wearing a mask.



Wearing a monkey

Dear Smiley: Many years ago, a friend of mine had a pet spider monkey. One night after several root beers, a group of us went to his apartment.

One friend, who was sporting an awesome large permed hairdo, the style in those days, was looking for a glass and opened a cabinet which contained the hiding monkey.

My friend yelled at the top of his lungs in surprise and fear. This scared the monkey, who jumped and attached himself amongst all that frizzy hair.

This led to some hilarious running around and screaming by both my friend and the monkey, as he tried to get it off of his head.

Priceless. If we only had cellphone cameras then.



Meet Mr. Tact

Dear Smiley: In 1978, as a newly licensed embalmer/funeral director in Lake Charles, I had the pleasure of working under the late Dick Sprigg, an old timer and great story teller. He told me this one, and swore it was true. 

He said when he was a newcomer to the profession, he worked at a north Louisiana funeral home with an older funeral director we will call "Mr. Tact." Here's why:

One day, Mr. Tact took the widow Jones into the funeral home's chapel to view her recently deceased husband. She began sobbing and exclaiming loudly and repeatedly that Mr. Jones just did not look like himself.

Mr. Tact clumsily tried to explain to the widow in his slow north Louisiana drawl: “Well, Miz Jones, the reason you think it don’t look like him is cuz you ain’t never seen him dead before.”



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