“I liked the Lone Ranger and Tonto until I found out what Kemo Sabe means – Sweetie Pie.”
Archive for the 'Lewis Grizzard' Category
Women In Running Shoes Brought To Heel
WASHINGTON – My ride was late, so as I waited on the sidewalk in downtown Washington I people-watched.
I had seen the phenomenon I’m about to discuss in other large cities, but here in Washington there seemed to be even more instances of it.
I’m speaking of the fact that when females in the workplace are out of their offices, many are now walking around in their otherwise attractive outfits in running shoes.
I am told that women wear these shoes to lunch and to and from work, but once they are in their offices they put on regular shoes, ones with heels that are more suited to the rest of their clothing.
I asked a female colleague about this once and she explained, “We do it for comfort. You just can’t imagine how doing a lot of walking in heels can absolutely kill your feet.”
I can understand that. I’ve never personally done a lot of walking (or any walking for that matter) in a pair of heels, but I can imagine how one’s feet would feel afterward.
Still, I’ve got to say this:
Comfort or no comfort, wearing a pair of running shoes with a dress does to t he attractiveness of a woman what a large tattoo does to a man.
It’s downright displeasing to the eye. In a word – ugly.
And I hate to use the “T” word, but I feel compelled.
At a gathering later in the evening, I asked a Washington woman, who had had the good sense not to show up at a cocktail party wearing a pair of Reeboks, why this practice seemed so prevalent in Washington.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with politics,” she said. “Maybe Washington women just have to walk more than women in other cities. Why do you ask?”
Diplomacy has never been my strong suit. I looked at her square in her eyes and said, “Because it’s tacky.”
She threw a sausage ball at me and then huffed away in disgust.
But that didn’t change my opinion. I don’t think I have any sort of foot fetish, but women in sexy shoes have always caught my eye.
I recall the first time I saw Kathy Sue Loudermilk in a pair of high heels. It was at the annual Moreland Fourth of July barbecue. She was also wearing her tight pink sweater (the one they retired in the trophy case when she graduated from high school), a pair of short shorts and 8- inch spike heels.
When the Baptist preacher, who was helping make the coleslaw, saw her, he said, “Lord, thy do make some lovely things.”
I don’t think he was talking about the onions he was putting in the coleslaw.
Said my boyhood friend and idol, Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr., a great American, when he saw Kathy Sue, “You put something besides them heels on that body and you done put retreads on a Rolls Royce.”
And here I stand on a downtown sidewalk in our nation’s capital and eight out of 10 women I see look like they went to the Sears tire store to shop for shoes.
The Lord does, indeed, make some lovely things, and I’m certain the almighty had no intention they walk around in what amounts to glorified, overpriced, rubber-soled clodhoppers.
Your feet hurt, ladies? See Dr. Scholl.
Tacky. Tacky. Tacky.
I think I have made myself abundantly clear.
Here’s The Beef
In protest for what I consider to be recent unfair attacks on beef, one of my favorite meats, I went out and had myself a thick, juicy T-bone at Long Horn Steaks the other night.
It was great, as usual. I would have eaten two if my stomach would have held another because we beefeaters need to do all we can to tell the wimps and weenies who have put themselves in charge of our lifestyles to go eat a bucket of worms (a.k.a. sushi).
It’s cow meat they’re after now. One group says we’re being cruel by killing cows and chopping them into steaks.
There’s a book out about the evils, both social and physical, of eating beef as well. I refuse to name it here and give it any publicity.
And then, I read a story in the papers about a report from the American Chemical Society saying the natural substance that gives beef its meaty taste has been synthesized in the laboratory and may be used to turn tofu into a substitute for beef.
I asked a health nut to tell me what tofu is. It sounds to me like a ballet dance step.
“It’s soybean-based,” she explained.
So let me see if I have this straight.
Some scientist has come up with something in his lab to put in something made out of soybeans, and I’m supposed to eat that instead of beef?
The magic ingredient is BMP. Said the article, “BMP could be used to make imitation beef with little or no saturated fat similar to the way fake crab meat is made.”
Fake crab meat? What’s going on here?
In the first place, I once ate a soybean burger. Another friend of mine, also a health nut, said, “Try this, you might like it.”
Somebody once said the same thing to me about marriage.
The soybean burger was awful, so I went to Wendy’s and got myself a double with cheese to get the taste out of my mouth.
In the second place, when are those self-appointed jerks going to stop jacking us around about our food?
Remember when you were growing up how important it was to eat eggs? “Eat the rest of those eggs, young man,” my mother would say, “so you’ll grow up big and strong.”
Not anymore. Now they say eggs cause diphtheria, not to mention shortness and weakness, so somebody has come out with a fake egg.
I bet a chicken could tell the difference.
Pork has been put down as unhealthy. Some chickens have tumors in them and fish have mercury, and I never knew there was such a thing as fake crab meat until now.
So what’s left to eat? Nothing much. If what we read and hear is true, we’d all be better off if we didn’t eat anything at all, never had sex, abstained from drinking, smoking and gambling, and died on the operating table instead of getting a blood transfusion that could give us AIDS.
Life used to be fun. Now, it’s just one big Don’t.
But I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to continue to eat beef and everything else I like. I will never walk into a Long Horn and say, “I’ll have the tofu T-bone, please.”
If doing such a thing kills me, it’ll just have to kill me.
I think I’d rather go suddenly from a beef overdose than live long enough to get really sick and wind up croaking in a hospital bed where they’ve been keeping me alive by feeding me through a tube.
There should be the basic right to live free from as much worry as possible. But how can you, when not a day passes that we aren’t told what’s the latest thing that’s bad for us?
Eat, drink and be merry, I say, for tomorrow you may choke on a big piece of broccoli.
Goodbye, Old Soldiers
It’s happened to me before, running into men who served with my late father in World War II.
This time I was in Greensboro, N. C., at a bookstore. I was signing copies of one of mine.
I noticed the old man at the first of the hour. He stood at the entrance of the store, looking at me.
After the hour, the signing was over. Meekly, the man walked to where I was sitting.
He had one of those faces that said, here’s somebody’s beloved grandfather. There was a lot of knowledge and caring in it.
Without another word, he said, “Your daddy was my first sergeant in World War II.”
I’ve studied my father’s record as a soldier closely and I know he was in France, then in Germany, and I know he later was sent back to Korea.
“He saved my life in Germany,” the man continued. “He saved a lot of lives, and they gave him a battlefield commission.”
According to a copy of the citation I have, the colonel had been killed and the unit was under heavy German fire. Sergeant Grizzard reorganized the company, running in the open where the bullets flew, and saved himself and his men from certain annihilation.
“If it weren’t for your daddy,” the man said, “I wouldn’t be here today.”
How do you respond to something like that? I certainly was proud of my father at that moment – to think this man had carried for half a century the memories of what my father did that day. And to think he would come to me after all this time. It was like he was trying to thank me for something my father did 50 years ago.
I think I managed a “Bless you,” or a “Thanks for looking me up.”
We shook hands and the old man walked away. My eyes teared as he did.
My parents’ generation, I sincerely believe, had more to bear than any other in this country’s history. Their lives were affected – and some were ruined – by World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and Korea, and some lost children in Vietnam. And, now, the last of them are fading into the shadows cast by the young they brought into this world.
A national magazine, noting the passing of the presidency to someone too young to have had the World War II experience, offered a spread titled, “Goodbye, Old Soldier.”
George Bush was the youngest fighter pilot in the Navy during World War II.
Now he has gone to his retirement, having been replaced by one with no military experience whatsoever, one whose dealings with the draft system still has a number of unanswered questions.
The Old Soldiers have moved out, and the Baby Boomers have moved in.
That is unsettling to me. The country’s leadership, save a few veteran members of Congress, is in the hands of those never tested by fire.
Few of my generation really know the meaning of sacrifice. What did we ever want for and couldn’t have? When have we ever been hungry? When did most of us ever have to run through a hail of bullets in a foreign land in order to save comrades? I never have and neither has Bill Clinton.
After the man in Greensboro had walked away, I realized I had made a mistake by not sitting with him and asking him to tell me what happened that day in Germany. I would have liked to have known about it from a survivor, not from some document.
But you know how it is. We’re all in a hurry. We just don’t know where it is we’re hurrying to.
Goodbye, Old Soldiers, and thank you.
You are the very best of us.
Just Walk On By That Gas Station
We could walk a lot more in this country. That’s what I said. We could actually walk more.
If we walk more and drive our cars less, then maybe we could become less dependent on foreign oil so when some sheik of the burning sands decided to take over Lower Oilrichabia, we could ignore him.
There wouldn’t be any need to send over our troops and planes, no reason to worry about chemical warfare, no reason to bug Henry Kissinger for interviews, no reason to bring up that nasty word “Armageddon,” no reason to have to pay $87.50 a gallon at the neighborhood Texaco, and no reason for Dan Quayle to say, “Please, George, don’t die on me now.”
I used to walk all the time. Before I got a bicycle, I had to walk practically everywhere I couldn’t convince an adult to drive me.
If I got thirsty and my mother said, “Walk, it’ll be good for you,” when I asked her to drive me to Cureton and Coal’s store for a big orange, I’d have to hoof it a half-mile to the store and back.
I even walked all the way to Bobby Entrekin’s house one day. It was two miles both ways. He had invited me over to play cowboys and punk rockers.
But it was a pleasant, enlightening experience.
On the way, I saw a dead opossum in the road, I found a pointed rock that could have been an arrowhead, I kicked an empty pork and beans can at least a mile, and I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do when I grew up.
I decided the next time an adult asked me about it, I would say, “I want to star in porno films” and see the look that would bring.
But after I got my bike and then got old enough to drive, I gave up walking, as have many of us.
Two of the three times I got married, I drove down the aisle. The other time, I took a cab.
I probably would drive between rooms in my house, but my car won’t fit through the front door.
We are slaves to our automobiles and the juice that makes them run and that gets us into harm’s way and allows oil companies to make us all feel like a bunch of dipsticks for what we have to pay for gasoline.
Let’s all start walking more and driving less. We could start with me.
The convenience store where I buy pork and beans and copies of the Enquirer is less than a half-mile away. I could walk there.
I could walk to the Waffle House for my weekly cholesterol I.V.
I could walk to the video store to rent “Naughty Female Attorneys” and “Debbi e Does Fargo, North Dakota,” neither of which I had a part in, incidentally.
I could walk to a friend’s house to play cowboys and rap groups, and I could walk to my ex-girlfriend’s house when I forget I am an insensitive, arrogant, selfish jerk and need to be reminded.
Join me, America. Let’s go for a walk and give Ahab the Arab and John D. Rockerperson a bad case of gas.
Life Span In Georgia
A recent study showed that Georgia is near the bottom in a ranking of states according to expected life span of both men and women.
Hawaii and Minnesota were the states where people live the longest. Hawaii, of course, features a warm tropical climate where people sit around drinking various exotic concoctions made with pineapple juice and watch lovely young girls in grass skirts move their sensuous bodies to ukulele music.
The only drawback to living a long time in Hawaii is you get very old and your eyesight eventually goes, so you can no longer see the young girls move their bodies, but you still have to put up with all that ukulele music.
As to Minnesota, nobody really lives a long time there. It’s so cold it just seems like it.
Plenty to worry about
Being a Georgian, I naturally was concerned upon discovering I can’t expect to live as long as people from other states.
Georgia is a marvelously diverse state, with mountains and seashore and charming small towns, and, of course, bustling exciting Atlanta.
So what makes us die earlier than other Americans? I put some thought to this question and came up with the following:
ATLANTA TRAFFIC: Other cities have traffic jams. Atlanta has traffic wars. Sherman burned this city. The highway department is dismantling it, piece by piece.
There is so much highway construction in Atlanta, motorists have to wear hard hats. Rather than face another day in Atlanta traffic, a lot of people simply die to avoid it.
A South Georgia hazard
GNATS: Gnats, tiny bugs, are the cause of a number of deaths in South Georgia each year. Some of these deaths have been attributed to swallowing a large number of gnats while talking or eating. Some also think the reason a lot of South Georgians disappear and are never heard from again is they are carried off by giant swarms of gnats and drowned in the Okefenokee Swamp.
KUDZU: Nothing grows faster than a kudzu vine. It has been known to cover entire homes in Georgia where the families are asleep for the night. They are then trapped inside and can’t get to a convenience store, so they starve. Those who try to eat their way out of kudzu quickly have their innards entangled in the vine because no matter how much you chew it, the blamed stuff just keeps on growing.
Football’s not safe either
THE FALCONS: The Falcons lost a game to the Chicago Bears 36-0 and the Falcons coach blamed it on poor officiating. The Falcons have been big losers most every year they’ve been in Atlanta, and a man fell out of the stadium during a Falcons game once and was killed. I think he jumped after another Falcons’ holding penalty.
LIVING IN BUCKHEAD: Buckhead is a tiny section of Atlanta where approximately 11 million white people under the age of 35 live. Each evening, all 11 million get into their Mercedes and go to trendy Buckhead bars and talk to one another. Here is what a Buckhead bar conversation usually sounds like:
“I was like, `Wow!’ and he was like, `Really?’ “
These people might die from wearing their designer jeans too tight, becoming choked on Hearts of Palm while eating their salads and being trampled in a bar or by a polo pony.
The study further revealed at what part of the year the most Georgians die. It’s when the state Legislature is in session.
There’s No Accounting About Taxes
I dropped by to see my accountant, Willard “The Shark” Houdini. He was in a most jocular mood.
“I’m celebrating,” he said.
“Let me guess,” I said. “You finally had a client to survive an IRS audit?”
“Very funny,” he replied. “What I am celebrating is the new tax bill. Have some champagne?”
I declined. Never accept an offer of champagne from an accountant wearing a sky blue leisure suit. That’s one of the first things you learn in Economics 101.
“Pardon my ignorance, but I thought accountants were going to lose business because of the new tax bill, which was supposed to simplify how we do our taxes.”
“Are you kidding me?” said Willard. “Have you ever known anything to come out of Washington that was simple?”
He had a point. Election-year tax bill
“Listen,” he went on, “this new tax deal is the best thing to happen to accountants and lawyers and financial consultants since the three- martini lunch.
“Nobody has any idea how this new tax thing is going to work or how they are supposed to find the loopholes in it.”
“But,” I interrupted, “I thought the new tax law was supposed to do away with loopholes.”
“Do away with loopholes? That would be un-American.”
I was confused.
“Let me tell you what all this is really about,” said Willard.
“In the first place, it’s an election year and nobody is going to vote against tax reform that allegedly will lower taxes. So here’s what’s going to happen: Real estate tax shelters, where rich people hid their money, will become obsolete, and the tax liability for people who make a lot of money will increase and big companies will owe a lot more taxes, too.”
“That’s what I thought,” I said.
“You don’t understand,” said Willard. The poor will pay
“Rich people who can afford the fees will go to see their accountants or financial consultants and lawyers to see what they can do about lowering their tax liability and some smart cookies will find a way.
“As far as the big companies are concerned, they simply will pass along whatever increase they have to pay to their customers.”
“But aren’t the poor people getting a tax break?” I asked.
“Sure,” said Willard, “but don’t forget this. Not only will prices for goods go up, but there will be a slowdown in construction of say, new apartments, so apartment owners will be able to go up on their rents and the poor will still get the shaft.”
“Isn’t there something that can be done about such an inequity?” I asked.
“Of course,” explained Willard. “This time next year there will have been so much griping and complaining and lobbying that the big companies will get their tax breaks back, and well-off individuals will be back in the tax shelter game. It’s just a matter of time.”
“And the poor?”
“They aren’t my problem,” said The Shark, guzzling another swig of champagne.
Lewis wrote this one coming out of the 1991 season looking towards 1992. Oddly enough, he shared some of the same uneasiness about the upcoming season as many of us do now.
The Boys Of Summer Go Under The Dome
Baseball season came to a rather rotten end for me in 1991. There I was in Minneapolis’s house of horrors, the Metrodome, covering the seventh game of the World Series between Atlanta’s Braves (with apologies to the Portland Oregonian) and the Minnesota Twins, a nickname a clever person said was insensitive to couples who couldn’t have children.
Around the fifth inning, with no score in the game, the ribbon on my typewriter, which was manufactured sometime around the turn of the century, suddenly wouldn’t advance. I couldn’t make letters and words appear on the white paper in front of me.
I fiddled with the problem for six more outs and was nearing a panic stage. What if I couldn’t figure out a way to free the ribbon?
The game would end and I would have to write my column longhand and I hadn’t written anything in longhand since my last essay-type test in college.
And who could I get to help me with the ribbon? Everybody else in the press box was writing on a Star Wars computer. Who would remember about typewriter ribbons?
By the grace of God, I finally hit the right lever inside my typewriter and the ribbon started moving again.
Then the Braves lost 1-0 because Lonnie Smith went brain dead on the base path.
I finished my column and left the Metrodome. Outside, Twins fans were celebrating by doing such things as climbing onto the tops of buses.
I had hired a car and driver to take me back to my hotel.
Some kids had asked my driver for whom he was waiting.
“Some guy from Atlanta,” he told them.
When I arrived at the car the kids began heckling me.
“We beat your [bad word]!” one screamed.
“Go home, you redneck!” screamed another.
Once I was inside the car and had locked my doors, they banged on the windows and roof and one of the Norse waifs pressed his nose and mouth on one of the windows.
As I recall the incident now, I think he looked a little like Paul Tsongas.
When I finally reached my hotel, shaken but unscathed, the bar was closed.
I made a mental note that Minnesota calling itself the gopher state was an insult to gophers, and went to sleep.
It is difficult for me to believe the 1992 baseball season is upon us so quickly.
Wasn’t the nightmare in Minneapolis just yesterday?
Indeed not. The 1992 Atlanta Braves, defending National League champions, are about to open their season, and many questions arise.
I will attempt to answer some of them:
Can the Braves repeat as National League champions?
You really think so?
If you really must know, I’m extremely concerned about Cincinnati.
What can we expect of David Justice this season?
A lot of pouting when things don’t go his way.
Does the team have a drug problem?
Well, they were drug all over the field during spring training but you can’t really go by that.
Will the chop come back?
Was Custer surprised at little Big Horn?
Will Jane and Ted have a successful marriage?
Who do I look like, Dear Abby? Let’s stick to baseball.
What part of the Braves do you think will be the most improved?
Their bank accounts.
What would you like to see out of Lonnie Smith this season?
If the Braves get to the World Series and have to play the Twins again, would you go back to Minneapolis?
If I can take along a typewriter technician, and my own bat.
Vending Machines That Won’t Work
I’ve been considering measures to take against vending machines that refuse to work.
I haven’t any concrete numbers, but I would guess that in the 30 or so years I’ve been feeding money into these callous contraptions, they actually have worked only about 50 percent of the time.
A few times when they don’t work, the machine doesn’t deliver the object I have selected, but it does return my money. I can deal with this.
What happens mostly, however, is the machine not only doesn’t give me my soft drink or candy or bag of peanuts, it also refuses to return my money.
I cannot deal with this. My eyes bulge out, my hands begin to shake, and I want to kill the machine.
To this point, I never have taken any drastic measures, however, because of my fear of the men in the white coats with their butterfly nets.
Another source of my frustration when it comes to vending machines is this: There never seems to be anybody around to scream at when a stupid machine has just ripped you off.
You would think, since the machine is in a hotel or a restaurant, you could go to some sort of assistant manager and say, in a loud voice so others could hear you, “Your blankety-blank machine has robbed me of my money!”
The problem is that when a vending machine refuses to work, it is impossible to find anybody who will take responsibility for it.
“We just lease the space to the vending company,” I have been told.
“You’ll have to talk to Mr. Wallakowski about that and he’s on vacation in Wyoming and will not be back until 1988,” is another cop-out.
It would be easier getting your money back from a television evangelist.
I decided, however, it is possible to get something back that is better than your money – revenge. Here is how I have planned to get back at the next vendin g machine that robs me:
1. I am going to kick the machine. I don’t mean a gentle kick. I mean, I’m going to rear back and kick the machine until there are large dents in it. I am going to kick it until it is in a terrible state of disrepair and then I am going to spit on it and call it ugly names.
2. After that, I am going to get violent. I am going to my car and get my lug wrench, and I am going to beat the machine some more. I want glass to fly. I want things inside the machine to make awful crunching sounds. I want nuts and bolts and screws to roll around on the floor. I want nearby dogs to whimper and small children to cry.
3. Then, I’m going to get really mad. I’m going to set the thing on fire. I am going to take off my clothes and dance naked around the smoldering machine, throwing my hands wildly into the air while giving out primal screams.
And after a few days of quiet rest in my padded cell, I will emerge a new man.