It's not easy for someone named "Smiley" to be a curmudgeon, but as I enter my Golden Years, I find I'm increasingly irritated by ill manners.
During the holidays, Lady Katherine and I were having an idyllic dinner at a nice restaurant — Sinatra crooning softly in the background, tablecloths pristine white, servers in formal attire, martini perfectly chilled.
Then I saw the guy in a baseball cap, and the visual assault caused me to recall a "Sopranos" episode where Tony intimidated a diner into removing his lid.
My Mafia connections are tenuous, but at that moment, I wished I had that kind of clout.
The arrival of the Sensation Salad turned my attention to more serious matters, but the incident led me to formulate my First Rule for Guys Eating Out:
"If the restaurant doesn't have a drive-thru window, take off your damn cap."
Cookie or pie?
Dudley Lehew, of Marrero, our Junk Food Correspondent, says about our search for a state cookie:
"What? Louisiana does not have a state cookie? Since the '40s, I was taught that the moon pie was our state cookie."
Ronnie Stutes has more on William Tecumseh Sherman, LSU's first leader and, according to one reader, a candidate for a statue in Lee Circle:
"At the time that Sherman served as superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy, it was near Pineville, not Baton Rouge.
"Also, he didn't exactly go 'to defend his country' or 'head north to join the Union army.' In his memoirs, he wrote that he left Louisiana 'about the 1st of March, 1861.' In late March, he was elected president of the Fifth Street Railroad (evidently a streetcar line in St. Louis).
He wrote that at the time, he "did not suppose that 'civil war' could give me an employment that would provide for the family."
The rest, as they say, is history. …
Meet our mud
"My husband and I just celebrated 16 years of marriage, and we found ourselves stuck in the mud," says Lydia Dye-Stonebridge.
"To be clear, I'm talking about the parking lot variety, and we were rather deep in it after enjoying a gig at the Mid-City Ballroom in Baton Rouge.
"To make matters worse, because we now live in London, it was my mother's car. So, in ripe middle age, I found myself calling in my dad to help us. I was mortified.
"My dad tried to joist the car free, but it took the hard work of a young gentleman called Hunter (and his rather flashy red Ford 4x4 F-150) to lug our Japanese SUV to freedom.
"Additional thanks go to his friends, as well as the drummer from the band Toast who also stayed to help.
"Even though I've been away from Baton Rouge for 20 years, it's wonderful to come back to a vibrant live music scene and young people we can be proud of."
Baton Rouge has had its share of celebrity sightings lately — Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Stormy Daniels, etc.
But John Singleton has come up with a possible sighting I have to wonder about:
"I need vindication, and you’re my only hope," John tells me.
"I was with a group of friends today at Albasha on Corporate Boulevard, and I’m absolutely sure that Larry David, star of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' (and the genius behind 'Seinfeld') walked in.
"My friends didn’t seem to think I was right, but nobody looks just like Larry David. Even if they did, they wouldn’t dress like him.
"I already Googled everything I could think of, but I’m coming up empty. I didn’t want to bother him while he was eating, and I’m kicking myself for missing the opportunity to shake hands with the guy. Help!"
I don't know, John — I can't imagine why he'd be here. Perhaps you should, uh, curb your enthusiasm.