Dear Smiley: In regard to stories about instructions included with new appliances to protect stupid people, here is why those instructions are included. (Names have been withheld to protect the stupid.)
Years ago a group of teacher friends were gathered at one’s home for some weekend companionship and bonding.
While playing a rather raucous card game on the coffee table, a very full ashtray was overturned onto the carpet.
Did I mention the abundant serving of adult beverages?
Our host immediately went to the closet, returned with one of those iconic Electrolux torpedo-looking vacuum cleaners, and proceeded to clean the area.
Upon finishing, he noticed the cigar he was holding had a rather long ash on the end, so he held it up to the end of vacuum’s tube to remove it.
The Electrolux did its job, and the entire lit cigar disappeared into the machine.
Without any hesitation, our host immediately thrust the end of the tube into his nearly full glass of adult beverage on the coffee table next to him to extinguish the now-vacuumed cigar. Problem solved.
It took considerable time before the laughter subsided and the card game resumed. This story is still retold at our gatherings, even after 50 years.
Dear Wes: I told this story to a friend who drinks, and he said if the Electrolux didn't explode when the adult beverage was poured into it, you people were making some awfully weak drinks.
World's best title
Dear Smiley: The U.S. Army has “a lot” of initials. As a young second lieutenant with the 258th MP Company at Fort Polk in Leesville, I received orders one day naming me as the “NBCAICOA!”
I found Sgt. Sprague, my first sergeant, for an explanation:
“Sir, they’re making you the 'nuclear, biological, chemical, accident, incident, control officer alternate.”
Somewhat bewildered, I asked him what all that meant! Without hesitation, he responded, “It doesn’t matter, sir, you’re just the alternate."
Which certainly eased my mind!
Dear Smiley: Your items about manufacturers’ warnings on brand names that have become common names reminded me of when I worked at a small daily newspaper 30 minutes north of Little Rock. I was the editor there more than 30 years ago.
I wrote a column once that happened to mention kitty litter.
I very quickly got a stern letter from the manufacturer of Kitty Litter informing me that it’s a trademarked brand and if I were to use the term in the future to please call it "cat litter."
I was shocked, and quite impressed that my tiny paper was on the radar of any national manufacturer and whatever clipping service it used!
CINDY BLACK BOUCHIE
No wine for you!
Dear Smiley: Back in 1975 I got lucky, and my lovely bride said "she did" at the altar. We thought we were royalty.
Long before retiring here in Panama City Beach, we honeymooned in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
On a careful budget, I splurged on a fancy meal in a ritzy hotel.
The waiter would not bring the wine. Just as I prepared to set him straight, he smiled and said he suspected my 19-year-old wife did not meet the Mississippi 21-years age requirement, and that I was probably just over the wire.
He was correct.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Dear Smiley: When I attended Baton Rouge's Catholic High in the early '60s, Brother Martin Hernandez taught French.
He was a tough, caring and passionate teacher who could get frustrated with slower students (me).
Every now and then, when we just didn’t get the lesson, Brother Martin would blurt out "Santa Fe!"
He was so fierce he made the capital of New Mexico sound like a curse word.
She's got one name?
Dear Smiley: I understood Nancy Van Den Akker's consternation (in the Thursday column) over the younger amongst us.
Years ago, when search engines were card catalogues, I asked the young lady at the library for books on the life of Charlemagne.
She, eager to help, asked, "Is Charlemagne the first or last name?"