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Tales from Tibby

    Let’s jump right in. Today’s gripe: Moms who put bows on their babies’ heads. I seriously don’t get this. Every single girl child that pops up on my social media feed has a bow on her head. What’s going on here? Trying to make your baby look like… Dumbo? Minnie Mouse? A rabbit? I have a niece claiming that just as with big hair, the bigger the bow, the closer to Jesus. Yeah, we say that in that South, but it’s only because bad style needs an excuse, if you ask me. A random baby that may or may not be family.   Not only is this a silly trend, some of y’all have pretty rotten tastes in bows.* Somebody needed to say that. What you see in those pictures is your little angel looking so precious. What I see is trouble looming. So let me just go ahead and prepare you for the conversation your surly teenage daughter is going to have with you in about 17 years: “Can I ask why you ruined all my baby pictures by wrapping my head up like you were going to give it away for Christmas?”“Can I get a tattoo? What do mean, you think it will make me look silly? Didn’t seem to bother you when I was a baby.” “What’s with that bow? Had Wal-Mart run out of pretty ones or was Dollar General having a sale?” I have another question. All of the babies I see have known fathers. Where are the fathers? Why are the dads not stepping up and saying something? Be a man! Assert yourself! Or at least claim half ownership of rights to decorating the baby’s head and take the bow off. I’ve never had children but I can assure you if my wife wanted to put a bow on Dumpling’s head, we’d be striking a deal. 'Sure, you can put a bow on her head if I never have to do poopy-diaper duty again for the rest of eternity.' Something like that. I’m a b-a-a-a-d man! Oh, I can feel your eyes rolling, moms. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Grumpy old man.’ But I know what you’re really doing. You’re trying to mask your baby’s fat head.  Look, that’s just the facts of life. Most babies’ heads are too big for their bodies when they are born. What happened to just saying a ‘bless her heart’ and knowing she would grow into it eventually? Has anyone considered that a fat-headed baby with a bow only makes fat-headed baby’s head look bigger? Moms, trust me on this. Do your baby a favor. Buck the trend. #saynotothebow (You can steal that; I stole your baby’s picture.) No need to thank me. Just doing what I can to make you a better parent. Heaven knows, y’all need help. *No specific accusations are intended for the babies pictured in this story. Although if the shoe fits…
  • It was something, the eclipse. Especially to be in the path of totality where the moon would completely block the sun for a few moments. The stars had aligned for us. And we were ready. Plans had been in the works for months. One neighbor had ripped off some images from the internet and designed t-shirts celebrating the event. Another neighbor had purchased moonpies and sun chips for snacks. There was beer. About the only issue facing us was where to see it. In our area, watching the eclipse start to finish would take about 3 hours and options on where to see the sky for that amount of time were limited. The few houses that make up our community are in a deep valley, heavily wooded, and a lot of the neighborhood only gets sunshine filtered through the oaks, maples and tall white pine trees surrounding us. The day before the eclipse, several neighbors wandered up and down the lone dirt road that connects us and determined that the cabin on the end offered the best viewing from both the lower porch and in river itself. Sitting in the river is where many of us wanted to be. More planning. A small tree would be harvested. It would be wedged between the rocks in the river so that floats could be attached. Further, the river was shallow enough at this spot that chairs could be put in the water. Bonus: this cabin had a refrigerator in the basement. Those sitting on the porch didn’t have to walk very far to fetch and toss beers to those in the water. The neck on this event was getting redder by the minute. Everything went exactly according to plan. The sky was blue, the day was warm, the water was cool. And man, down in our valley where we have limited sunshine to begin with, when totality came, it got dark! Perfect. Except… Many had gathered in the water a good hour or so prior to the start of the eclipse. The event had come and gone, and people were still in the water. Happy people, lounging in their chairs and tubes. And there was beer. We were into about the 4th hour of the party when someone just had to point out that no one had taken a bathroom break. Here we are, lined up one behind the other in the water, and no one had stood up and announced that they would ‘be right back.’ No one had left the water to ‘take a break.’ We just sat in the river. And there was beer. These things go unspoken. Or should. But when someone speaks of it, smiles turn to sneers. Suspicious eyes are cast to everyone around. Further, in the last couple of hours two pairs of those cheap eclipse-viewing glasses had come floating by us, meaning someone we could not see was upstream from us. At least two people, based on the number of glasses. Were they also in the water? Did they also have beer? These are questions best unanswered. But the subject had been broached. Resolution became necessary. In the end, we all agreed none of us would never do anything like that. Despite being older men and women, our friendship was strong and our bladders stronger. Everything’s cool, everything’s OK. One day, when you and your children are visiting the loveliest place on God’s earth you’ve ever seen, and you happen upon a pristine little trout stream, gurgling its way over the rocks, tumbling merrily to a larger river somewhere, and Little Precious looks up at you and asks, “Can I take a drink from it?” Don’t be my dad. My dad said, “Sure. Why not?”
  • When you’re 14, you’re never going to be old. Until one day you are.  When you get older, the best you can hope for is to be cool - the cool mom or dad, the cool aunt or uncle - and hope the young'uns around you see Rico Suave instead of Ricky Ricardo (who would have turned 100 this year).   That’s not the way it works, of course, but it’s really all most of us have to hang a hat on. That and our increasingly shiny heads.   Part of the perception of cool in this digital world is the ability to keep up with the latest ‘thing.’ Or at least to be perceived as trying to keep up.   So, when my teenage companions suggested I needed to be on Snapchat, I surrendered my phone.   “Set it up.”   If you’re not familiar with Snapchat, my best and shortest description would be that it’s texting with pictures. There’s so much more to it, but that’s the basic function.   Further, unless you make a special effort to save a Snapchat, it disappears for good, typically after 10 seconds. There is a lot to like about that, especially if you are fond of sharing pictures of you doing stupid or illegal things (I’m guessing).   I suppose it’s because your chats disappear the Snapchat logo is a ghost. The ghost is actually a blank canvas. You can insert a photo of you or anything else in that space. I had chosen to do nothing, and it was not sitting well with the 16-year old beside me.   She suggested I needed an avatar. In digital-speak, an avatar is a digital representative of you.   Think of it as a personal emoji.   For example, take your basic smiley face emoji 😊. Now, give Smiley Face some of your features, like the same color hair, that same skin tone, your dimples, glasses, if you wear them, etc.   You’re basically creating a cartoon character in your likeness.   You bet there’s an app for that. Several, probably.   Let the games begin.   She would look at me, then look at her options for designing me. “You need a longer face,” she commented as she picked a template to make that happen.   “His nose isn’t long enough,” her brother offered, thus involving himself in the process.   It started getting personal. Really personal.   My wrinkles were discussed. Scars and moles were talked about. And I guess I had bloodshot eyes that day because the question, ‘can you make the whites of his eyes red?’ was asked.   Assigning my avatar white hair was a no-brainer, but they argued over which available option looked most like a guy going bald.   Ultimately, my avatar was finished. It's not easy seeing yourself through the eyes of a teenager, but I wasn’t too disappointed. Given that they were only creating my face, I avoided some other pitfalls common to men of a certain age:   -pot belly  -corroded toenails  -ear hair  -nose hair  -turkey neck  -baggy pants (‘cuz you got no butt)   I thought I got off pretty easy. The 14-year old thought his sister could have done a better job around my eyes.   “He’s got some pretty gnarly eyebrows.”   I do. And he will too one day. As we’re all fond of saying: There’s only one option to getting older, and you ain’t gonna like it much.   But I’m good with where I am in life. And I'm keeping busy by working on my own app, inspired by Snapchat. Since it will only work on teenagers, its working name is Teenzap.   Here's how it will work: use the app to take a photo of any teenager, and in 10 seconds, they will disappear.   Not the photo. In fact, you may want to keep the photo. It will be all that remains of that precious pimply face.   I'll keep you posted.
  • It’s a very special smehell. I made that word up. It's a cross between 'smell' and 'hell.'  We need a new word describing what it’s like walking into your house after your refrigerator/freezer has died and been left alone. Putrid, nauseous, toxic, oh my god, and liquid death don't get it done. Who knows how long it had been dead. It had been two weeks since we had been around. Neighbors discovered the problem. Ours is a close-knit community; everyone knows where everyone else keeps a spare key. If you don’t have something you need but your neighbor does, go get it. That’s how this started. I received a text that someone or something was dead in our house. “It’s not bad,” she wrote. “It’s really, really bad.” She could have – I think I probably would have – just walked out and left it for the homeowner to figure out what was wrong. Instead, she and her husband decided to do a little investigating. “Sniff the shower drain,” I suggested, thinking the septic tank might have a problem. By the way, you want to be pretty good friends with folks you suggest to go into your shower and sniff your drain. Profanities could follow. Looking for any obvious problems led them to eventually opening the refrigerator door. And immediately slamming it shut. It was a morgue in there. Actually, no. There was life. You know how your fridge has little vents? When motors aren't running and coolants aren't cooling, those vents become doorways for small creatures, hungry for a meal of spoiled, rotting food. There were bugs. Among the damage, a sealed pack of chicken that had swollen up and burst through the packaging. Same for the venison. Packs of ground deer meat had all breached the seals of their vacuum-packed plastic, warming to room temperature, oozing blood. Yogurt had burst the seals of their individual cups and grown hair. Whomp buscuits – those you whomp against the counter to open - had broken through without being whomped and were molding. And the bugs. It may have smelled like death, but certain unidentified insects were loving life: crawling, flying and feasting. Clearly, the refrigerator had not just conked out yesterday. Alien life forms of this magnitude take time to manifest. Public service announcement: Frozen okra will thaw into a gooey mess but will not explode through freezer bags. I’m not sure why you need that information, but now you have it. Hazmat was called but refused to respond. So, friends stepped in to do what friends must occasionally do. Once in a while, you gotta step up to the plate. First, all windows were opened. They found of couple of fans in our house, then brought a couple more of their own to prop up in those windows. This cancelled the plans of our immediate next-door neighbors to eat lunch out on their deck that day. While they are a good 30 yards away, the stench from our kitchen was uncontainable. Those folks had other options of where they could be, so they packed up and left. Like I said, it’s a real special odor. Neighbors from both sides of the house came with garbage bags, willing to help clean out the fridge. While tossing out our food, one of them tossed his own cookies. Fortunately, he managed to make it outside, hanging his head out over the deck railing before that happened. Ten full garbage bags and $5 later, the offending mess was deposited in the local dump. The same friend who had lost his lunch cleaning out the refrigerator was around when we finally arrived two days later, offering to help me move the refrigerator out of the house. To fortify ourselves, we both took a shot of tequila. (We do a fair amount of fortifying around here.) During the process of rolling it out on a hand truck, one of the fridge doors popped open. His tequila shot left his body as quickly as it had entered. We refortified. Eventually, we were able to wheel the refrigerator into my neighbor’s yard. The same neighbors that had left. Their yard. I used their hose, their water, to wash out meat juice and mold. Can’t wait for them to return. Precious memories aren’t the only things that linger. The fridge made nice yard art, and we considered just leaving it there. Back inside, my wife Beverly wiped down every counter and cabinet with all manner of cleaning solutions, going so far as to take down the curtains and wash them. Floors were mopped. Disinfectant was sprayed on the furniture. Plates, glasses, silverware, every pot and every pan got washed. In tossing out all of the spoils of the refrigerator, the neighbors had left glass and canned items. Without much hesitation, we made the decision to toss everything that smehell had touched and start over. Everything except the beer. It’s good beer, and the cans had not popped opened. I deemed them salvageable and safe. Now, you could argue that beer which has been refrigerated, then brought back to room temperature, then refrigerated again will lose some flavor. You’d need to argue with someone else. My palate won’t notice, and I ain’t listening. You could also argue, as my buddy did, beer cans that have been in such close proximity to the funk of rotting deer carcasses are contaminated and need to be replaced. But again, my ears don’t hear. Those cans have taken a gentle bleach bath and are now chillin’ in a brand new refrigerator. My friend has vowed not to accept my offer of a beer for the next year. Beverly has vowed that lips that touch those cans of beer will not touch hers for about the same period of time. Don’t tell me I don’t know what it means to sacrifice.
  • Our bartender was Romanian but spoke pretty good English. Since he was working for a cruise line that caters to a mostly English-speaking clientele, good English was a prerequisite of the job, I reckoned. “Can you speak French?” he was asked. As the boat that employs him cruises the rivers of France, that was a fair question. “No,” he answered. “I speak Romanian, Russian and English. That’s enough!” Then he laughed. “Do you know how hard it is to speak English? You have over 300,000 words!” Whether that’s true or not, I’ve always thought what makes English difficult, even for those of us that have spoken it all our lives, is the way words sound the same yet are spelled differently (see my title), or that the exact same word can have different meanings (see my title). In fact, once you read the rest of this tale, you can tell everyone you’veread it. But let’s move this conversation back to the barstool, because someone has just mentioned they had read that the most difficult word in the English language is… RUN. Eyebrows immediately furrowed in doubt. Run? Really? So, we decided to run it up the flagpole and see if we had indeed run into the toughest word in the English-speaking world. Immediately, it was evident there are many ways to use ‘run’ that didn’t involve using your legs to move quickly from on point to another. You run water either to run the washer or run a bath. If it’s the washer, then you gotta run the dryer. The refrigerator runs. Let’s just hope we catch it before it gets too far away! (In today’s techno- world, you may have to explain what a prank call was to your kids or grandkids. I doubt they’ll immediately get the concept of dialing a random number and asking whomever answered if their refrigerator was running.) We run the vacuum to clean the room, unless we’ve run out of time. Or run out of room. We run our mouths. Too much. We run for office. If we don’t run into our scandalous past, well, we’ve run a good campaign, I guess, so we can run for reelection. Our watches run. Our cars run so that we can run to the store. Just don’t let the parking meter run out while you’re inside or you run the risk of a ticket. You’ve got a run in your pantyhose, by the way. Had enough? Me, too. Perhaps ‘run’ is all the problem it’s purported to be. Regardless, I’ve run out of easy examples. Besides, I need to run to the bathroom. For that, I will use my legs to move quickly from one point to another. Hopefully, we have not run out of tissue.
  • Boy, I didn’t see this one coming.    Hanging up the phone after talking with our niece, my wife turned to me and said, “She wants to know if you’d officiate her wedding.”    Do what?    “She wants me to marry them?” I asked.    Yup. That’s what she wanted.    Heck, yeah, I’ll do that! Several reasons:    #1) I’ve been a part of this child’s life since she showed her sweet face to this world, so I’d probably do just about anything for her.    #2) She and her fiancé share a wonderfully quirky sense of humor. Anything that went wrong at the wedding would just be a funny memory for them. (That’s the way we should live our entire lives, I think.)    #3) - and this is where it gets selfish - I always harbored this notion that when I retired from radio, I’d become a tent revival preacher.    I’d buy a big tent, hire a couple of corn-fed gals with high hair and the voices of angels, and I’d hit the road with my own traveling salvation show.    Look out! The Right Reverend Tibby is coming to your town!    I’d pitch my big tent right next to the local Wal-Mart, set up the folding chairs, and set out my hand-painted plywood sign that says “Gospel Sing & Healing Tonight. 7 p.m.”    The heavenly voices of my gospel girls would rain down on the ears of believers, getting them in the mood to hear some good words from Reverend Tibby, who would take to the stage and whip the flock into a frenzy with a bunch of ‘amen’s and a whole lot of ‘hallelujah’s. Then we’d top off the night by beseeching the sick and afflicted to come forward for a-healing, hoisting them from the quagmire of holy dilapidation.    In my younger years, I’d watched the Rev. Ernest Angley do such work on TV. Cripples would rise up from their wheelchairs. The blind could see. And the deaf would hear.   
  • I know it works. It said so in Reader’s Digest. (Gimme a break. I was at the home of some older relatives, and it was the only thing available for bathroom reading.) The premise is pretty straight-forward: the body metabolizes food differently during daylight hours. To that end, if you eat all of your meals while there’s light in the sky, your tummy will evaporate and your love handles will fall off. That’s not really the end conclusion, but it’s what I was going for. There is some research that supports this notion. One of the subjects of the RD article was a woman that had gained a lot of weight during pregnancy. Following the birth of her child, she had either a new job or new working hours. Regardless, because of that schedule change, she needed to eat supper by 5 each day. Then, it was off to work, arriving back home around 11 p.m. The big change for her was that the 5 o’clock meal was not just her last meal of the day, it was her last food of the day. Upon returning home in the evening, she showered and went to bed. The way I remember the story, she lost over seventy pounds of baby fat with just that one change. No change in her diet, only in the times she ate. A lightbulb went off over my head, however dimly. Could this program help me lose some baby fat? In my case, baby back ribs fat. February was about to begin. That seemed like a good starting point. New month, new plan. My wife was onboard; she thinks we eat too late, anyway. Initially, the hardest part was that it was, in fact, the beginning of February. It gets dark early! In order to have supper consumed by dark, it needed to be completely ready to eat by 5 o’clock. As the month wore on and the days grew longer, having the meal prepared by 6 or even 6:15 still had us finishing before dark. There were a couple of exceptions, as there are bound to be, but I was faithful to the plan. Thinking back to when I announced the new diet on social media, the very first question that came up was, “Does that go for liquid consumption after dark, as well???” It came from this girl I used to work with who is now a fitness queen and is trying to eat all healthy and probably assumes that I enjoy a toddy or two in the evening. Knowing her, she wanted me to fail. I did. It didn’t work. Oh, I lost two pounds, but I was hoping for twenty. Now for my analysis of what might have gone wrong: liquid consumption after dark, probably. I admit, I am a man of many empty calories. Supper may be over, and I may have finished eating before dark, but that wine bottle is still half-full. Or half-empty, depending on your point of view. From my angle, there is still some work to be done, and that article didn’t say anything about wine. To be fair to me, I do try to limit my wine intake to two glasses. But then there’s the splash or two of a good bourbon over ice that soothes the soul and helps one sleep at night. You don’t want me to not sleep well, do you? I do want to point out one HUGE positive to this particular eating arrangement. If you have decreed that all meals must be taken during daylight hours, you have effectively made late-night snacking against the law. That’s a really big deal for those of us that are prone to getting the munchies because that steak and potato and beans and salad and rolls and wine you had two hours ago suddenly is not enough, and you must go thrust your spoon into that jar of peanut butter… twice, maybe three times, or you will die - quite literally, die - of starvation! (A very small half-pound sliver of cheddar cheese will also do the trick.) This plan sets the rule: when dinner’s over, eating is done for the day. I liked that, and I stuck to it. So, I’m going to hang with it for a while. If nothing else, I quit gaining weight. Best case, I’ll hit my target weight in 8 -10 years. My wife has had more success than I have, but then, she has taken a month-long sabbatical from all alcohol. She suggests I do the same. I have found that staring at her blankly, like she’s a martian (which of your 7 eyes should I be looking at?), is an effective response.  
  • I am friends with the anti-Christ of Valentine’s Day. Every year, he plasters his office door with cute little signs proclaiming, “St. Valentine Was Beheaded” and “Valentine’s Day is a creation of the floral industry.” When he was a single guy, I thought it was a brilliant move. Hey, ladies, you can have this guy, but you’d best know, upfront, he ain’t spending a dime come February 14th. You’ve been warned. There’s a politically correct version of Valentine’s Day now. Some use the date to celebrate S*A*D. Single Awareness Day. That’s right, celebrate your singleness. Who needs a soulmate when you have six feline friends and a house that smells like cat pee? If you don’t live alone, though, Valentine’s Day might come with some guilt. “What? You say you love your wife, yet you won’t spring for a few flowers or a handful of chocolates?” On the other hand, couldn’t you – shouldn’t you - use that day as the one day out of the year you actually brought her some flowers? There’s some conflict there. I don’t feel an obligation, but this year I bought flowers. In fairness, it was only because we were out of ketchup. (We need ketchup, and the grocery store also sells flowers, so while I’m here…) I also bought beer, but the beer/wine aisle is right beside the floral department. That may not be just coincidence. I used to think buying Valentine’s Day flowers from the grocery store instead of the local florist was a complete cop-out, a version of running down to the drug store at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve to do your Christmas shopping because it was the only place left open. And what woman wouldn’t appreciate a bag of red and green candy corn and some toenail clippers? Anymore, though, the grocery store is the local florist. In my neighborhood, it’s the only place left to buy flowers. Some yellow roses caught my eye, and my wife, herself a yellow rose of Texas, prefers them to red roses, so I was in business. In my defense, I could point out that Valentine’s Day is not the only day of the year I buy flowers, and that would be true. But it’s also true that I was buying them on that day because it was in fact Valentine’s Day, and the flowers would be the extent of any sort of recognition of the occasion. What’s happened? What brought us to this? Used to be that Valentine’s Day was a day a guy might ‘get lucky,’ so any effort was worth it. Nowadays, getting lucky is finding a quarter in the parking lot. It’s not that time just wears us down, nor that we don’t love our mates. Those are not problems in our house, anyway. Sure, we both suffer from a lack of creative ideas, but mostly, it’s that we don’t need anything. The whole digital shopping thing hasn’t helped. It’s hard to compete with a computer and a credit card. Anything that pops into my brain as necessary or amusing, I buy it. A couple of months ago, I got the bright idea that we needed a new knife sharpener. Hello, Amazon! You needn’t think I’ve used it. I don’t even know where it is. It’s good that my wife thinks the same way. I’d have never thought to buy her a lovely jar of deep tissue moisturizing cream designed especially for the neck no more than she would have thought to buy me some cacao nibs for making a steak rub. So, there I was, waiting in the checkout line with this odd assortment of items that probably would have attracted some attention, anyway. But being Valentine’s Day, I could just feel other people gawking at my basket and thinking, ‘At least I’m not that guy.’ Or perhaps, ‘At least I’m not married to that guy.’ I have considered that Valentine’s Day occurs too close to Christmas. In our house, we really don’t do much for Christmas anymore, either. Other than eat like starving baby pigs. Maybe I was buying the flowers out of guilt. Guilt that manifests itself as a loud booming voice screaming at me to DO SOMETHING! JUST TRY, FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD! So, I formulated a Valentine’s Day poem. Roses are red,So are your lips.Didn’t get you no chocolate,It’d go straight to your hips. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it. Hard to beat roses, ketchup and beer.  
  • Dear panhandlers: I’m done. It’s over. Don’t ask. Yeah, yeah, I know. No big loss for you. I don’t usually give you money, anyway. I want you to know that it’s not that I don’t want to help. If I could know for certain you genuinely needed help, I’d buy you a burger, take you shopping, even make your house payment. But I don’t know for certain, and frankly, I don’t believe your stories. The carboard sign that you ‘dream of a cheeseburger, or that you’re ‘homeless with 3 children,’ just doesn’t resonate as sincere. Adding “GOD BLESS” to the bottom of your sign doesn’t make your plea more plausible, either. I have my reasons for doubting you. I’ve seen you guys and gals take each other’s place and pass off the same cardboard sign. I’ve seen you bum a couple of bucks and walk straight into a package store. Hey, I’m all for you enjoying a cold one, just don’t ask me to pay for it. It’s how you’ve decided to make a living. Got it. Just doesn’t seem like you’ll ever get promoted to something better at that job. I’ve had quite a run with some of you recently. Back in September, passing through Memphis, I encountered a middle-aged, rather small black man as my group walked down the street.  Yes, that he was black and I am white comes into play in this particular episode. As we walked toward the street he was ‘working,’ we could see his game. He would direct cars looking for a parking place to an open spot. That of course is something they could find on their own, but if he could run ahead of them and point it out, might there be a ‘tip’ for his help? That appeared to be his pitch. As we walked past him, he joined us. He was energetic and friendly, asking how we were, how we were enjoying Memphis and where we were from. The jovial banter continued for several minutes until we were clearly getting out of his territory. “Can you give me money for a sandwich?” he asked My standard answer: “Sorry, man, I don’t carry money.” That’s usually the truth. I almost never have dollar bills on me. I’m a plastic man. Credit cards. Whether it was true or not on this day made no difference. I wasn’t giving him money. I had seen him a block away and knew that if he came up to us, there would be a motive other than serving as the city’s official welcoming committee. He responded to being turned down by immediately veering away from our group and saying, “That’s because white is always right and black is always wrong.” I’m used to some sort of comeback when a beggar is turned down, but that one caught me off-guard. All of that friendly chit-chat suddenly became a racial divide when I didn’t give him money. As we continued to walk away, he continued to yell, eventually hollering that if I came back to where he was, he would put me in the hospital. He said that twice. I wondered what he was expecting by threatening me. Seriously. Did he think I’d stop, turn around, apologize for every historical wrong that had happened to the black man and give him a twenty? Did he think I’d suddenly sympathize with him and say, “Hey, dude, I’m not like you think. Please take my money.” Next stop, West Coast. Passing an older, worn out-looking gentleman on a pier in wharf district of San Francisco, I could feel it coming. “Can you people help me get some food?” I probably would have been better off just handing him a couple of bucks, but I gave him my standard line and kept walking. That set him off. “Go on back to your rich-people hotel, ya f****t!” I’m not going to lie to you. Having a homophobic slur hurled at me in the middle of San Francisco has some entertainment value. Even my gay friends have found that story amusing. Finally, Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a city we love visiting. In fact, we have two more visits on the agenda this year. My wife and I had taken my mother to a Christmas show at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Vince Gill and Amy Grant. It was fabulous! As we sat in the hotel lobby the next morning eating breakfast, a young woman approached, wanting to know if she could ask us a question. My radar lit up. More often than not, when someone is trying to put the touch on you, it starts with, ‘can I ask you something?’ or ‘hey, mind if I ask you a question?’ She started her pitch. She and her kids didn’t have enough money to pay their hotel bill. She said she needed $26. That’s pretty specific. People doing what she was doing will usually take anything you offer. My wife, the softest touch on earth responded, “I’d love to help.” She grabbed her pocketbook and offered to accompany the young woman to the front desk to pay her bill. Wait for it…wait for it… “Well, we’re not staying at this hotel,” the woman said. “We’re at a hotel down the street.” That’s when I jumped in and, as politely as I can speak, told her, “I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to help you.” She stared at us for a few seconds as though we might change our minds, then moved on. My wife excused herself from the table and went back to the room. She was aggravated, mostly with me. It’s not that she didn’t know the woman was begging, nor that she didn’t understand why I sent the woman away. She just wanted to help. She wants to help them all. I had interfered. Mom got weepy. Now, Mom lives in Atlanta. She’s very familiar with the hustlers. As we talked about the incident, she even allowed how most panhandlers involve their children in their stories. She was 100% on board that the woman was out bumming, but the story made Mom really sad. She was also sad that my wife had been so willing to help only to find out it was an obvious ruse. So, to everyone out on the street with your hands out, I hope you have a nice day. Mostly, I hope you find the motivation to make your life better. But you made my mama cry. We’re done.
  • It’s January down south. Even down here January is cold. Supposed to be, anyway. January is in fact our coldest month, historically. This morning, I can’t even find the cool side of my pillow. In a one week period, we’ve gone from freezing temperatures to planning our gardens. That's planning, not planting. It is warm, but we're not there yet. Even if it doesn't last, welcome to our January summer. While I’ve enjoyed playing golf in shorts for the last 3 days, I want the other January. The cold one. At least, the cold mornings. I want the January where you wake up in the morning, slip into somebody’s hip pocket and go back to sleep. (That’s not dirty, y’all. It’s my own terminology for ‘spooning.’) This time of year, if there’s another person in my bed, let’s get personal. If there’s a dog beside me, come a little closer. If there’s a cat on my feet, I’m surely blessed. It’s January, it’s cold. Let’s be friends. But it’s not cold. And a boy in his undies has just kicked off the covers. Hey… maybe he has a motive. Maybe if he can create a cool enough climate, maybe he can slip into someone’s hip pocket. It is January, after all. Let’s test the waters. Let’s have him throw an arm over that lumpy thing beside him and see if there’s any reaction. There’s a reaction, all right. In a king-sized bed, someone who is already three feet away can make it four with a simple roll-over. Lumpy thing has just indicated she will be driving in her own lane – alone. So, thanks, January. Men of a certain age have enough trouble generating interest in snuggling to begin with. The least you could do is let it be cold enough that her very survival depends on her dancing cheek-to-cheek with me. Not happening. She just got up to turn on the ceiling fan. Good. I’m hot, too.

Local News

  • This year, 10 University of Georgia students and alumni were offered grants to take their research and teaching to a global level through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. This marks the fourth straight year-and eighth time in the past nine years-that UGA has achieved a double-digit number of Fulbright offers. Of the 10, six were able to take advantage of the opportunity. Four received academic grants, and two will be teaching English. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent college graduates and graduate students. As the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, it is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and countries worldwide. 'These prestigious grants are a testament to the exceptional talent of UGA students and UGA's institutional commitment to international education,' said Maria de Rocher, assistant director of the Honors Program and chair of the Fulbright selection committee at UGA. Four students and alumni received Fulbright academic grants. Their study concentrations and host countries are:• Anna Forrester of Kingsport, Tennessee, will be studying Shakespearean performances in Turkey, exploring how Shakespeare has shaped the country's national dramatic identity. She will be based in Istanbul. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in English literature at UGA.• John Esteban Rodriguez of Guyton will be conducting research on the intersection of race and LGBTQ identities, while pursuing a master's degree in gender, politics and sexuality in Paris. He recently completed bachelor's and master's degrees in English at UGA.• Samuel Schaffer of Atlanta will be working as a binational business intern in Mexico City, Mexico. He graduated from UGA this past May with a bachelor's degree in international affairs.• James Thompson of Augusta will be participating in the Young Professional Journalist Program in Freiburg, Germany, interning with various media companies and researching how religious groups interact with secular communities. He received bachelor's degrees in journalism and history this past May. Two alumni received Fulbright English teaching assistantship awards. Their study concentrations and host countries are:• Asad Delawalla of Lawrenceville will be teaching English classes in South Korea. He graduated from UGA in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in international affairs and a minor in French. • Margaret Harney of Atlanta will be assisting English teachers in Spain. She graduated from UGA in 2016 with bachelor's degrees in Spanish and journalism.
  •     Hall County Animal Control says it has confirmed Hall County’s eighth rabies case of 2017: a rabid raccoon tangled with two dogs on Wild Smith Road in Gainesville. From Hall County Animal Control... This is to advise that there was contact between a rabid raccoon and two dogs recently in the 5200 block of Wild Smith Road in Gainesville. The raccoon was shipped to the Georgia Public Health Lab- Virology Section in Decatur. Hall County Animal Control was advised Friday that the raccoon tested positive for rabies. This is the eighth confirmed case of rabies in 2017.        Positive alert signs will be posted in the area where the rabid raccoon was located. If you live in this area or you see an animal acting abnormally in the area, contact Hall County Animal Services at 770-531-6830 or during non-working hours call Hall County Dispatch at 770-536-8812.       Animal owners are encouraged to vaccinate their domesticated pets for rabies. Vaccines are available at the Hall County Animal Shelter for $10 Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1688 Barber Rd, Gainesville.         
  • The Georgia DOT says the lane closures that started last night on Highway 316 in Oconee County will continue through October 1. It’s for resurfacing work on 316 between the Oconee Connector and Virgil Langford. WHO: Georgia DOT construction contractors will begin resurfacing State Route 316 this month. WHAT: Overnight single lane closures will be required for resurfacing work to take place. WHEN: September 18, 2017 nightly through October 1, 2017. 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.  WHERE: State Route 316 Epps Bridge Parkway between Virgil Lankford to the Oconee Connector 
  • Athens-Clarke County Commissioners meet for a 6 o’clock agenda setting session at City Hall. The county’s drought and water shortage plan is up for discussion, as are appointments to local boards, authorities, and commissions.  There is an afternoon meeting of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission: it’s a 4 o’clock session at the Library on Baxter Street.  The Athens Airport Authority meets this afternoon, 3:30 at Athens-Ben Epps Airport.  There is an evening meeting of Madison County’s Planning and Zoning Board, a 6:30 session at the Madison County Government Complex in Danielsville. Winder City Councilman Bob Dixon says family considerations are behind his decision to pull out of his race for reelection. He’ll step down from the post he’s held since 2010. One of two remaining candidates in the November 7 election—either Chris Akins or Todd Saxon—will fill Dixon’s seat on the City Council in Winder.  The Gainesville City Council meets, 5:30 this afternoon at the Public Safety Complex in Gainesville. The Council is expected to set the millage rate for the Gainesville City School District. It will come without a property tax increase for Gainesville home owners.
  • The Oconee County School Board lays out a plan for redistricting in advance of the 2018 opening of Dove Creek Elementary School. All streets west of Highway 78 would be rezoned for Dove Creek. The Board will hold what it calls a listening session on the plan next month. “Over the last several years, our district has seen tremendous growth because of the incredible work of our teachers, support staff and administrators, parents, students, and community,” said Superintendent Jason Branch. “We are very blessed to be a part of the #1 school district in the state, which is also the #1 fastest growing system in Northeast Georgia with 3,500 or more students. With 15.4% growth since 2013 and two of our elementary schools over building capacity, we look forward to opening Dove Creek Elementary School this fall.”  More information is available on the district’s web site at: www.oconeeschools.org/redistricting. On this site are current and proposed zoning maps, a link to a feedback form, and a street index. Of note on the street index:  • All streets west of Highway 78 are rezoned for Dove Creek Elementary School. They are not included on the list since it includes all streets in that area. and can be viewed on the proposed map.  • The street index includes only streets proposed for redistricting from Malcom Bridge Elementary School to Rocky Branch Elementary School.  In addition, the Board of Education invites the community to a Listening Session on the proposed redistricting plan Tuesday, October 10 at 6 p.m. at North Oconee High School.    “We appreciate the continued support of our community, and look forward to receiving their feedback,” said Branch.

Bulldog News

  • UGA will make its first SEC road trip in a couple weeks to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Sept. 30th. The Southeastern Conference on Monday assigned a kickoff time for the game.  The Bulldogs and Volunteers have been given a 3:30pm kickoff, and will be played on CBS as its SEC Game of the Week.  This will be the Bulldogs’ first appearance on CBS this season, and hold an all-time record of 48-38-1 when playing on the network.  Start planning travel/tailgating accordingly. 
  • This coming Saturday night Georgia Bulldog football game will be a Top 25 matchup. The Georgia Dogs host the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference opener for the home team. Georgia is ranked 11th in this week's AP poll; Mississippi State is 17th. Both teams are undefeated. The game kicks at 7 o'clock in Sanford Stadium. The game against Mississippi State will be the second time this season the Georgia Bulldogs will have faced a ranked opponent: the Dogs beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish September 9 in South Bend.  The Bulldogs are coming off a 42-14 win over FCS Samford this past Saturday night. Jay Black wrote about that game for WSB Radio... Alright it was a laugher, it should have been a laugher, it was a laugher. But this is nothing to joke about. The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs have a lot of running backs. A lot of good running backs. Yes this school likes to pride itself as Tailback U. You certainly got to watch a lot of good tailbacks tonight. We didn’t exactly learn a whole lot on this Saturday. Samford didn’t pull off a Nicholls State type-scare and UGA wins 42-14. Wahoo. But we did learn, or confirm, this should and will be a running football team. No matter who is playing quarterback. “That’s one of our depth spots,” Kirby Smart told the UGA Radio Network after the game. “We got a lot of guys who can play.” Yeah no kidding. Let’s start with the bell cow climbing up the UGA record books. Nick Chubb rushes for 131 yards on 16 carries and shows the patience and the vision that’s made him the second leading rusher in school history. Now he’s also second by himself with 19 100-yard games. He trails only Herschel Walker. That’s not bad. Chubb also passed the legendary Charley Trippi to move into a tie for fourth in UGA history with 33 career TD runs. To wedge yourself between Walker and Trippi on any list is a good night. Imagine what could have happened if he didn’t blow out his knee on that sad excuse for grass they call a field in Tennessee? Does Nick Chubb pass Herschel? Probably not, because those stats are still silly good, but it would have been fun to watch. Speaking of injuries, Chubb’s understudy didn’t even play tonight. Sony Michel has a bad ankle. Even if it’s five percent hurt, there was no reason to play tonight. There’s plenty of reinforcements. For example, the freshman. “What a special talent D’Andre Swift is,” said Smart. Uh huh. Kirby was kind of complaining on our air last week that this kid wasn’t getting the ball enough. He got a few chances to show off tonight. Swift had nine carries for 54 yards and a 10 yard catch. Oh yeah, and that touchdown. “You’ve got to see that one on replay tonight,” said UGA analyst Eric Zeier. Swift hit the Circle Button, dropped a beautiful spin move and zoom, into the end zone for his first career TD. He sort of reminds me of Sony Michel when he was a freshman, but I think he might be (gulp) swifter than Sony. The kid can fly. That’s your third string running back folks. But UGA goes five deep. “I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of Brian Herrien,” said Smart. “We see it everyday in practice, but he hasn’t had a chance to show off his skills.” Herrien also got five yards per touch tonight. Walking away with 45 yards on nine carries. He’s smaller, won’t run a lot of people over, but in the last two years, we’ve seen flashes of a guy who deserves more than fourth string. And that goes double for the fifth-stringer, Elijah Holyfield. He was a 4-star recruit and the guy many thought would step in and be the man after Chubb and Michel. He finally got eight carries tonight and only had 28 yards behind the second-string offensive line. But we saw on the kick return that got called back against Notre Dame, that Evander’s son can still be a weapon. Credit to Jim Chaney for finding ways to get all of these guys touches in the early going. Even if it means Holyfield returns kicks, they are all involved. “They run hard, they protect the ball, they protect the ball,” said Smart. “I was proud of the toughness they ran with tonight. They deserve that opportunity.” UGA still has plenty of questions and they weren’t going to be answered tonight. I still don’t know what to make of this offensive line and Jake Fromm is still a freshman. But this team can play defense and it can run the rock. That recipe generally works. Now we find out for real what Kirby has in year two. SEC play begins and the real football starts now.
  • 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 16, 2017 at Sanford Stadium in Athens
  • The University of Georgia released its full football schedule for the 2018 season today.  9/1 - Austin-Peay (Athens, GA) 9/7 - South Carolina (Columbia, SC) 9/15 - Middle Tennessee State (Athens, GA) 9/22 - Missouri (Columbia, MO) 9/29 - Tennessee (Athens, GA) 10/6 - Vanderbilt (Athens, GA) 10/13 - LSU (Baton Rouge, LA) 10/20 - BYE WEEK 10/27 - Florida (Jacksonville, FL) 11/3 - Kentucky (Lexington, KY) 11/10 - Auburn (Athens, GA) 11/17 - UMass (Athens, GA) 11/24 - Georgia Tech (Athens, GA) A few items of note: Georgia will have seven home games in 2018, whereas it had six homes games in 2017.  The South Carolina game returns to the beginning of the season where it more traditionally has been played. The last few seasons have seen that game moved from mid-October to even mid-November The Bulldogs will travel to LSU for the first time since 2008, a 52-38 win for Georgia as Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford lead the team.  Yet again, with the Florida game being neutral site, and the home-and-home with Georgia Tech every year, Georgia fans will have to go an entire month (35 days) without football and tailgates in Athens. After the Vanderbilt game on Oct. 6th, the next home game will be against Auburn on Nov. 10th.  Georgia will finish the season with three consecutive November home games, when weather can be very nice... but it can also get very cold if night games happen to be scheduled. 
  • For those in the Athens, Ga area and affected by Tropical Storm Irma, use THIS LINK for information you need regarding next steps.