THERE ARE TWO things that really trouble me today: (1) My vanity; and (2) the low abilities of newspaper contest judges from Wisconsin. Let me explain: I entered three of my columns from 2021 in the Arkansas Better Newspaper Contest which was judged this year by yahoos from Wisconsin.
I am accustomed to winning first or second place (this is my vanity part) but this year I only got one lousy Honorable Mention. And it was for the worst of my three entries.
This is my explanation to you for running again one column that I thought was pretty amusing.
This one was headlined:
Careful local driver never
got a speeding ticket
YES, I AM STILL HERE looking out my window on Main Street, and I wonder how long it will be before I see Aunt Pokey drive by.
I’ll recognize her immediately I’m pretty sure.
When she’s on the move you can just barely see the top of her head thru the steering wheel ring. She has no idea what a turn signal is for, and she’ll have a long line of traffic behind her because she never goes more than 15 mph. A lot of the drivers behind her are honking.
You ever hear 15 or 20 cars honking and drivers cussing all at the same time?
I first crossed paths with Aunt Pokey when my buddies and I were hellion teenagers. We thought the town’s posted mph limits were merely speed suggestions to be obeyed only if the town’s lone daytime law enforcement officer’s car was NOT in its usual parking spot on Main Street. There’s a pizza place there, now.
If it WASN’T there it meant that he might be on patrol, looking for speeding hellions. Or, maybe his wife had appropriated the car and taken it to her beauty parlor appointment. After all, it served as both a town patrol car and as a family vehicle.
My hellion friends and I never called her Aunt Pokey to her face.
Well, one guy did once and she nearly kneecapped him. “Aunt Pokey, why you creep around so slow all the time?” he whined, adding “Ooooooo” when she kneecapped him with her walking stick. He only smarted off to her because his hellion buddies doubledog dared him. Called him ‘Chicken.’
Once, the annual Howard County Fair Parade finished 45 minutes late because the sheriff’s pickup truck — red lights blinking, siren howling — was stuck behind Aunt Pokey who was going to the grocery store at her usual speed. Naturally she was on the parade route right down the middle of Main Street.
The sheriff didn’t radio for help because he knew that — just as the hellions ignored mph suggestions — Aunt Pokey ignored cop’s lights.
Funeral processions that got behind her were doomed to take hours getting to the cemetery. The floral displays would be wilted.
Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Aunt Pokey in a long time.
A real long time.
That thought occurred to me last week when I was driving to the grocery store — Or, maybe I was going to the barbershop. I can’t remember right now, but it’ll come to me.
I was going down Main Street at a sensible speed. Honestly, I don’t even bother to look at the speed-o-meter anymore.
I heard horns honking behind me. I slowed down to look in the rearview mirror, and was surprised to see a long line.
“Wonder where they’re all going?” I asked myself.
I was driving very carefully and I even came to a stop at a green light because I thought it might be close to changing to yellow, and that meant the red was only seconds behind.
Anyway, I don’t want to seem fixated on stoplights, but I have noticed that very often the green light will change to yellow when I’m almost directly underneath, and that means the light might turn red before I can emerge the other side.
I don’t want to get a ticket for running a red light so — just to be safe — I usually stop before the light can turn yellow. Makes sense to me.
As I said, I don’t want you to think I get fixated on stoplights and traffic safety.
I continued my journey to the store and the honking never let up. Maybe it even got worse after the pause at the stoplight.
After awhile I got to the grocery store parking lot and unfortunately I bumped a shopping cart into someone’s shiney new car.
When I got out, a hellion teenager pulled up beside me and leaned out of the window. He said something very puzzling:
“Where were you going in such a hurry, Uncle Pokey?”
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: My mind is like an internet browser. At least 19 open tabs, 3 of them are frozen and I have no clue where the music is coming from.
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SHE SAID: “I would prefer to live forever in perfect health, but if I must at some time leave this life, I would like to do so ensconced on a chaise longue, perfumed, wearing a velvet robe and pearl earrings, with a flute of champagne beside me and having just discovered the answer to the last problem in a British crossword.” Olivia De Havilland
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WORD GAMES. Here are two more words that often go together in some context: Slow and Steady. Some people think Slow and Steady always win the race.
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby