Dear Smiley: Sherry Wilkes's article in your column about having small talk with high school student Steven Soderbergh at a house party near LSU reminded me of another house party an LSU faculty member hosted to celebrate my pending graduation as a recipient of a doctoral degree.

As husband Buddy and I sat among the other guests in the den enjoying varied opinions of whether or not LSU would have a successful 1978 football season, Dean of Education Peter Soderbergh and his wife, Mary Ann, sat quietly, not offering their opinions.

When a fellow faculty member asked about their lack of input, Mrs. Soderbergh smiled while Dr. Soderbergh said he had more important things to worry about.

His 15-year-old son, Steven, refused to consider any career path other than making movies, and they had had a tiff with their son before arriving at the party.

Dr. Soderbergh shared some of his concerns about his son's lack of interest in exploring other career fields, and ended saying he and Mary Ann had hit a brick wall in influencing their son's choice of what he planned to study after high school.

The topic quickly shifted to children who refused to take advantage of parental wisdom.

After films with nine Oscar nominations and seven wins, hopefully Steven convinced his parents that his stubbornness had results worth the agony he put them through!


Going to Jackson?

Dear Smiley: About Cajun food outside Louisiana:

My brother Philip Sizeler, New Orleans born and raised, moved to Jackson, Mississippi, in the early '80s to open a New Orleans po-boy restaurant.

The key ingredient was the New Orleans French bread that he had trucked in every week. It seems none of the bakeries there could duplicate it.

People would often ask to buy French bread from him, but he knew if he sold them the bread, they would just make their own po-boys.

He eventually partnered with a seafood restaurant owner to open Sal and Phil’s Seafood and Po-Boys.

Sadly, he passed away in 2008, but Sal and Phil’s lives on with po-boys, fried crawfish tails, and the best seafood gumbo in town.



Far from home

Dear Smiley: Several years ago I attended a professional meeting in Portland, Oregon. After a long day of hardly working, I was enjoying a beverage at the hotel when I noticed one of the menu items was "Cajun Chipotle Fries."

I decided to give my perky waitress some grief, so I told her that although I had had a lot of Cajun food in Lafayette, I had never heard of such a thing — and wondered how the fries were prepared.

She looked at the floor in embarrassment and mumbled something about cayenne pepper and something else.

Then, as a way of confessing that she knew better, she told me that not only was she from Ruston, but that she was the granddaughter of Louisiana Tech's legendary football coach Joe Aillet.

We shared a laugh — and then I ordered onion rings with my burger.



The Cajun diet

Dear Smiley: Having left Cajun country after high school graduation in 1963, joining the Navy and retiring in 1985, I was often asked, “What is a Cajun?”

My easiest answer/explanation was, "A Cajun is someone who will eat anything that doesn’t eat him first."

I didn’t get many follow up questions.


Virginia Beach, Virginia

Only in New Orleans

Dear Smiley: When I was in high school in New Orleans, we read "Crime and Punishment."

I wish we'd read that other one of Dostoevsky's novels that everyone called "The Brothers Katz and Besthoff."


Blacksburg, Virginia  

Calling Jerry

Dear Smiley: Some have suggested that Chris Wallace may not have been a good choice for moderator of the first presidential debate. Since the debate was held in Ohio, perhaps a better choice might have been a former Cincinnati mayor — Jerry Springer.


Baton Rouge

Calling Sister

Dear Smiley: As a graduate of a Catholic high school, I suggest the next presidential debate monitor be a nun with a ruler.


Baton Rouge

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.