Ginger Williamson contributes to our series on language:

"Many people in Europe speak English but with an accent — English with a French accent, Italian accent, etc.

"Last year, my husband and I were on a European cruise, and the ship docked in Croatia.

"We were in a souvenir shop in this beautiful little seaside town, speaking with the girl working there. She spoke English very well but with a decidedly different accent.

"Her accent was strange but somehow very familiar. I told her she spoke English very well and asked if she had ever been to the U.S.

"She replied, 'No, but I'm fixin' to go there.'

"Turns out her very close friend, with whom she Skypes on a regular basis, lives in South Carolina."

Speaking Southern

Sue Conran says, "I laughed at your Monday story about ordering breakfast in Tennessee because a similar incident happened to us.

"We were on a two-week vacation with our friends Mike and Sandy and stopped at a restaurant after visiting The Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina.

"Sandy ordered a sandwich, and our waitress asked if she wanted 'Wha or way'?

"After an agonizing length of time, we finally figured out what she was saying ('White or wheat').

"Sandy opted for wha, and I got way."

Big shake-up

Vallan Corbett says son Jim, who works for Conoco in Anchorage, Alaska, was at work Friday when the 7.0 earthquake hit:

"He was able to get home, where he found everything above the floor was ON the floor, including contents of the refrigerator. They had no electricity, it was 28 degrees outside."

She says by Saturday, he had his priorities in order:

"I called to see if things were worse or better. He answered and said, 'Mom, Georgia is beating Alabama, there is 10 minutes left in the game; I can’t talk now.'

"Sunday, the aftershocks kept coming, one waking them during the night. Monday morning, schools were closed for the week.

"He bought round-trip airline tickets to Hawaii, and he and his family left for a week."

Holiday Gift Guide

My Gift Guide Committee, an accomplished assemblage comprising graduates of accredited Louisiana high schools, has come up with the perfect holiday gift — me.

That's why I'll be signing my books "Best of Smiley" and "Smiley! A Laughing Matter" from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 8, at Red Stick Farmers Market.

While you're there, says market director Copper Alvarez, check out the plethora of fresh veggies — and the just-in Louisiana citrus, including the world's best navel oranges.

Note: The books are normally $25 each, but in the spirit of the holidays, I'm offering BOTH books for just $50. You're welcome. ... 

Special People Dept.

  • Faune Ruppe Futral, of Port Barre, celebrates her 102nd birthday Thursday, Dec. 6. She volunteers at Opelousas General Hospital and is president of the Young at Heart Club.
  • Ray and Karen Kron celebrate their 50th anniversary Thursday, Dec. 6.

Wizard overboard!

A Western Auto fish story from Stephen Higgins:

"Many years ago, I was fishing with a friend in his boat with a Western Auto 'Water Wizard' outboard motor.

"We fished most of the afternoon and ended up several miles from the launch. When we were ready to return, the Water Wizard would not crank.

"After many pulls on the rope, we started to paddle (no trolling motors in those days).

"I was paddling from the front when I heard a loud splash and my friend saying, 'If you can't run, you can't ride.'"

Thought for the Day

From Alex "Sonny" Chapman, of Ville Platte: "God has a sense of humor. Don’t believe me? Then why did he create the giraffe?"

The Littlest Wise Man

Rachel Ehricht reports having this conversation "with our 7-year-old grandson Teddy about his part in the live Nativity scene at church on Christmas Eve:

"Me: 'What part are you playing?'

"Teddy: 'A Wise Man in a red costume.'

"Me: 'Does that mean YOU are a wise man?'

"Teddy: 'Well, in the play; but maybe not in real life.'"

Rachel concludes, "I think he is wise beyond his years."  

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.