I have had the good fortune to travel a good deal, mostly at the behest of our Uncle Sugar. However, like most things there was a downside. I was never put up at the Ritz. As a matter of fact I usually found myself as far away from the Ritz as one could get. This put into the original interpretation of the military adage, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” It had nothing to do with one’s sexual preference, but with food.
When you are out stumbling around in the ‘tall and uncut’ menu choices are extremely limited. They are “Eat what is in front of you” or “starve”. Trust me, more than once the thought went through my mind, “You know, I have been meaning to lose some weight.”
Here is a rule of thumb, the hotter the climate the hotter the food. Not temperature hot, but pepper hot. This is due to the lack of refrigeration. In poor countries ice and an icebox are luxury items. Consequently when the chow is on the line between eatable and poisonous, folks had no recourse but to pepper the daylights out of it. Nowadays food preservation is much more common, but the traditional taste lingered on.
I was once down Mexico way, on pleasure not business. I was at a seaside restaurant and I asked the waiter to recommend something that would not burn. He said he had just the thing, assuring me, “Oh no senor our children eat this.” After the first bite I was rolling around on the floor, crying my eyes out, sweating like a race horse trying to pull my tongue out. Whether he was serious or he was pulling one over on the ‘gringo’ I do not know. But he was running back and forth from the bar bringing cold beer to extinguish the fire for the better part of an hour.
In Thailand the team and I got some time off for R&R. I walked into a local place where some of the lads hung out. In there were a couple of the boys. They too were doing the sweat and eye thing and their faces were as red as a fox’s butt in choke-cherry season. One of them gasped, “Mac You got to try one of these,” holding up a small green pepper “They’re great!” I politely declined.
It is not always to do with the seasoning. I was in Honduras working with the local yokels way out in the toolies. We were very lucky if we got meat once a week. Beans, rice and tortillas was the standard fare two times a day every day of the week. (There is no such thing as three squares a day.) Anyway, the go-rillas had a stew going on the fire. It did not smell too bad. While eating I asked what kind of meat they were using. The reply was that the critter lived in the tree tops, swung from branch to branch and had a fondness for bananas.
Don’t ask, don’t tell. © 2014, Jim McGowan
Well, I thought we would all catch a break with the primaries being over a few weeks ago. ‘Dream on, Macbeth’ it is not going to happen. Just last Sunday “The State” newspaper ran a front page story that jumped to nearly a full page about the latest finger pointing and name calling among the candidates.
I was hoping we would be off the hook until mid-September maybe even October, but oh no, according to the newspaper the evil that is politics is buzzing right along. If you believe half of the insults and accusations being cast about, all of these people should be doing hard time in the joint for life with no chance for a parole.
It is not just an incumbent against a newcomer or a Republican versus Democrat thing, but the American Party and the United Citizens Party, whoever they might be, are in the fray. Fortunately, we in Harmony County are not faced with this problem. We know going in that our politicos are crooks.
It has never been a question of “Will they steal?” but “How much will they steal?” Even we have limits. Say the County Treasurer dips his or her mitts into the county cookie jar. A few grand here. A few grand there is no big deal. But when they leave their well-drained position, to retire to some private tropical island, at least they should leave the office furniture behind.
The Agriculture Commissioner has to be a bit more imaginative to make his booty. This is where the weekly Farmers Market comes into play. There is a stall where some personality altering herbs are for sale. Take a wild guess as to who owns that operation. It just so happens that the head Aggy has 40 acres of wacky-backy out behind his place. Living high on the hog has an entirely different meaning for Farmer Brown.
If you want to go for the big bucks no need to look any further then the bid process. There is an old joke about the Harmony County Commissioner of Roads and Highways opening bids on a repaving job. The first bid was submitted by an Auburn grad and was for $100,000. The second bid was from a Georgia Tech grad and was for $200,000. The Commissioner scratched his chin and went ”Hmmmmm”. The third bid was from a Clemson grad and was for $300,000. This shocked the Commissioner and he called the third bidder in and demanded to know why his bid was so high. The Tiger replied, “Get with it Commissioner, $100,000 for you, $100,000 for me and we give the job to the Auburn guy.”
On the serious side of this story there is one thing that ticks me off. As the nuns taught us, “In an urination contest, everybody gets wet.” (You know the word I would normally use.) So instead of discussing issues and educating the voters all were going to hear is whining.
Unfortunately, we are going to get wet too. © 2014, Jim McGowan
Yippee! It is August! We all know what that means. Is it the month when we celebrate Augustus Caesar? No. Is it the month when we have our sweat glands all working at full tilt? No. Is it he month that we get the air conditioning bill and faint dead away because it is higher than the GNP of Costa Rica? No.
Silly you, it is the month when SEC Football starts. War Eagle! I have been sitting here every Saturday since last January blindly staring at the TV screen that has nothing on except for the twelfth or fourteenth rerun of “NCIS” mumbling along with the actors the script that I had memorized by the sixth replay. But now eight months of famine are over and my beloved ‘Tigers’ are back on the field.
By now, you probably gathered I am a huge Auburn fan. As a matter of fact I am THE Auburn fan. I even have an insulting ‘Bama’ tattoo. Just let your imagination run free and you can easily guess what part of my anatomy is so decorated.
Looking at this year’s schedule it appears that the days of the easy ‘tune-up’ first game of the season are over. They are starting off against Arkansas. The ‘Razorbacks’ are nobody to treat lightly and if they can bring down last year’s SEC champs on Day One they will be a force with which to reckon.
However, there is one cloud on my football horizon. Even though one of Auburn’s team nicknames is the ‘Tigers’ (They are also known as the ‘Plainsmen’ and the ‘War Eagles’. We have a bit of an identity crisis going on.) My roomies, The Kilkenny Brothers, Fast Eddie and Lazy Jake, are Kentucky fans. I suppose it is because the Kentucky team is known as the, ‘Wildcats’.
All during basketball season The Boys take over the TV. They plant themselves in front of the boob tube with the clicker between them. It is scratch city if you try to touch it. I have to bring them their kibbles and drinks. Fast Eddie is a beer guy while Lazy Jake prefers wine. They have their little UK t-shirts, caps, and pom-poms. They flat get with it. (Have you ever heard a cat cheer? Sounds very odd, you would not believe what it sounds like when they see a questionable call.)
But come August 30 the tables are turned. Fast Eddie brings me the popcorn and Lazy Jake brings me the beer. If it was the other way around Fast Eddie soon would be bringing me half-beers. So we are off and running. Maybe my ‘Tigers’ we will be National Champs again. Keep your fingers crossed.
Oh by the way, August is also the month when you find thousands of joyful parents doing their ‘Happy Dance’ in the parking lots of liquor stores. School starts in August. Unfortunately, it is also when you find the kid’s teachers doing some, “Slow walking and sad singing” back into their classrooms. © 2014, Jim McGowan
Dear Uncle Seamus; I have a serious problem with hornets. They have taken up light housekeeping under the arm of my wicker chair on the front porch. Now the porch is ‘off-limits’. How can I get rid of them? Stung In the Belly.
Dear SIB; You may be looking at this all wrong. There is a definite up side to having your uninvited house guest around. First is the exercise inherent with trying to escape their attentions. We are talking a half-hour worth of aerobics in 30 seconds of jumping, slapping and running down the block. Second, when the Jehovah Witness show up at your front door just tell them to have a seat on the porch and you can watch them do the Hornet Dance. Third, who would you rather have as houseguests, hornets or in-laws?
Dear Uncle Seamus; Things in life have been very stressful lately. The bills are piling up, my car is in and out of the shop to the tune of $300+ a visit, and speaking of tunes my next door neighbor practices his bagpipe at 2 AM while marching up and down in his driveway. What can I do? Stressed Out Seriously.
Dear SOS; There are some simple steps to reduce your stress. You can use the Zen method. Simply sit quietly and close your eyes and repeat your calm word. Do this every day for about 15 minutes and the stress will flow away. Another method is the ‘Irish Method’. Pound about six or eight shooters of Irish whiskey in a half-hour. Stress and consciousness will flow away. As far as the bagpiper is concerned get a hold of SIB’s hornets.
Dear Uncle Seamus; I am very concerned about the “illegal aliens’ problem that has been spread across the news. What can I do if that problem presents itself here in my hometown? Get Out of Town.
Dear GOT. Who are we talking about? The little gray guys who talk with ‘beeps and boops’ or those that favor beans, rice and tortillas? If it is the first group just have them watch a couple dozen of reruns of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and they will figure out that we are a race lacking intelligence and they will be back on their way to Cede Alpha Six as fast as their saucer can carry them. If they are of the ‘Latino’ persuasion, what shape is your lawn in?
Dear Uncle Seamus; I have two cats. They have got this shedding thing down pat. Everything is covered with cat hair and you can forget about wearing dark clothes. What can I do to solve this problem? Fuzzy in Philly.
Dear FIP; There are two ways around this problem. First is to render them non-compos mentis and shave them. My preferred way is the ‘scrub-a-dub-dub’ method. Set your clothes washer on gentle and give them a ride. Then place them in the dryer on air dry. They are going wobbly and puffed out hairballs, but that will pass.© 2014, Jim McGowan