Sunday, December 28, 2008

Regifting, Fake Trees, Odds, & Decor

This column was originally published on Dec. 26, 2007.

Howdy! Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where we are trying to recuperate from all that Christmas shopping and decorating and consumption of Christmas spirits, so we are running our “Ring in the New Year” piercing special, wherein we will insert a ring most places you might want to put one, although there are a few places we won’t go. We do have standards here. Also, we are running our “New Year’s Hair Resolution Surprise” special wherein we will give your hair a new color from an unmarked package of dye. We got a real good deal on some unidentified colors, and we will pass on our savings to y’all. You just might be surprised at how good you’ll look, or at least you’ll be surprised somehow. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. This Christmas I got a lot of nice presents that I can’t use and I’m too embarrassed to ask the givers where they bought them or if I can have the receipts to return them. What should I do?—Overly Gifted

Dear Over-burdened: I have addressed the issue of re-gifting before, so pay attention this time. This is how re-gifting works. I hope you carefully unwrapped your gifts and didn’t just rip them open. You can save a bundle by reusing the wrappings. Before you start the re-gifting process, make a note of who gave you what, what it was wrapped in, and what color ribbon it had. Iron out all the paper and ribbon so it looks more or less new. Carefully alter the gift tags so the “from” is changed to “to” on each tag and vice-versa. Decide who you think would like which present, or at least who will take what you give them. Then wrap that present in paper that the recipient didn’t use and tie with a ribbon that wasn’t used with the original wrapping. Add the newly-altered gift tag. Do this for all the gifts that you got. If you are lucky, everything will come out even and your Christmas gifts are taken care of eleven months early, and it didn’t cost you a cent. You might want to make notes of who’s getting what (some folks who have been doing this for years and who have a lot of friends keep a computer database) so you won’t make any mistakes when you re-gift the following year. Once you get in the swing of things, you can keep passing gifts around until they become valuable antiques. An alternate way of re-gifting is to not open any of your gifts at all when you get them, especially if in-laws that you don’t much like gave them to you and you have no faith in their taste whatsoever. Just put on new tags that assign each giver a different gift than the one they gave. Of course, a problem is that they might all be doing the same thing as or that some of the gifts might be perishable food items, but that is just a chance you have to take.
If all of y’all would just get each other gift certificates for services here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait shop, everybody would be happy with what they got and there wouldn’t be none of this re-gifting necessary. After all, who can’t use either beauty services or bait, or a combination thereof?

Dear Ida B. How do you store an artificial Christmas tree so it will look nice the following year and not all bent out of shape?—Neat Freak

Dear Freaky: You don’t. You take the decorations off and store them. Then you get a nice pot and stick the undecorated tree in it. For the next eleven months, it will be an artificial houseplant. If you want to do something seasonal with it, hang some hearts on it in February, some shamrocks on it in March, some eggs on it in April, etc., but that really isn’t necessary.

Dear Ida B. What are the odds that we’ll have a snowy winter this year?—Weather-watcher

Dear Needs Watching: The odds of anything—whether it’s the weather or whether it’s getting away with something you ought not be doing—are always 50-50. Either it will or it won’t. The exception to the 50-50 odds is the work we do down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop, where odds are good that you will look much better when you leave than when you came in. Thanks to the industrial-quality hairspray we use, your new hair-do will stand up to the fiercest winter winds and will be able to hold its shape under several inches of snow if we get any and if you don’t have sense enough to go inside during a blizzard.

Dear Ida B. I just decorated my basement rec room for our New Year’s Eve party. I had to take down all them red and green streamers that we had up for the Christmas party and replace them with blue and white streamers for New Year’s. My husband and kids are always wanting to celebrate holidays but they are too busy to help with decorating. What can I do?—Too Busy Mom

Dear Over-worked: The idea is to leave up some of the old decorations. Never take down the white streamers at all. After New Year’s, take down the blue and add red for Valentine’s Day. Then take down the red streamers and add green for St. Patrick’s Day. Leave the white and green up and add yellow and blue for Easter. Then take the green and yellow down and add red for Fourth of July. You get the idea. If someone is having a wedding at your house, try to get the bridesmaids to wear dresses in whatever color is already hanging up. That shouldn’t be difficult because one of the rules of throwing a wedding is that bridesmaids have to dress tacky to make the bride look better.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Culture, Left-overs, & Red Worm Wreaths

Howdy! Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where we are running our pre-Christmas special, “Deck Your Hair With Boughs of Holly,” wherein we will artfully arrange cuttings from the holly tree out behind Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop to give your hair the festive look that you sets you apart from all the other folks with festive looks. This year, we promise to wash the holly first, so we don’t have bird dropping on leaves like happened last year. Also this year, we will not use large branches, so all y’all who toppled over into punch bowls last year will not have to worry about being top-heavy. We are also running our “Hair for the Holidays” special for men, wherein we glue hair onto bald spots, but call to check for availability before you come in. If we know what color you are looking for, we can manage to save it instead of sweeping it out the door like we usually do. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. Is anything of a cultural nature happening in Rock Bottom?—High-Toned

Hi, Tony: As a matter of fact, we have a Rock Bottom literary event on the horizon. Upson Downer’s new inspirational memoir, Life’s a Downer, will be hot off the press soon. Not the printing press. His book was actually published last year, but—as he was trucking the thousand copies home from the printer—a storm came up and soaked all the boxes in the back of his open pick-up where they have remained damp ever since. Luckily Stanley “Spot” Lifter, owner of Rock Bottom Dry Cleaners, who rarely gets any business because folks just throw their clothes into their washing machine and hope for the best, has an industrial-type pressing machine and promises to iron out all the damp, wrinkled pages in time for Upson’s reading and signing at the Rock Bottom Livestock Market sometime before Christmas. We are not able to give an exact date for this event on account some buyers have not yet picked up their cows. Keep in mind that previous book readings and signings have not gone over too well in Rock Bottom because if an author reads the book to them, folks figure out they don’t need to buy it since they’ve already heard the good parts. Also, signing is not a very exciting spectator sport. Most Rock Bottomites like events with some action, preferably events that involved hollering, fighting, shooting, racing, and betting—none of which are likely to happen at book-signings. Even worse, spectators ain’t likely to buy bait or get their hair done beforehand, so it doesn’t profit us here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop either.

Dear Ida B. I will be hosting a dinner party during the holidays. Could you give me some suggestions to make the event less stressful? I’m attending a series of dinner parties before I give mine, and I don’t know when I’ll find time to prepare.—Still Getting Over Thanksgiving

Dear Get-Over-It: Don’t try to recycle your Thanksgiving leftovers, even though the green mold on the turkey will certainly give your dinner a festive look. If you haven’t fed your Thanksgiving leftovers to your dawg, now is the time to do so. If you don’t have a dawg, you ought to get one. Dawgs are invaluable to help with clean-up when you spill stuff, and they help persuade your guests not to overstay their welcome. Also, if anybody gives you a fruitcake as a hostess gift, the dawg can take care of it. Just in case you ain’t been previously warned, never eat a gift fruitcake. Some have been passed around through various Rock Bottom/Slick Water Lake homes for years. If you are attending a bunch of other dinner parties, you’re in luck. Just carry a large handbag with a bunch of plastic containers inside. When nobody is looking, just scrape some of whatever’s being served into your containers. When you get home, combine the contents of all your containers into a casserole and put plenty of grated cheese on top. If it’s dessert, again mix everything together and smother the result in whipped cream. If anybody asks what you’re serving, just say it’s a secret family recipe. Before your dinner party, be sure to stop in at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop for a whole new look. If your guests are busy admiring how good you look, they won’t pay much attention to what you’re serving.

Dear Ida B. What can you suggest in the way of a door decoration that embodies the holiday spirit?—Needs Help

Dear Needy: You can’t go wrong with one of our red worm wreaths from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop. It’s simple yet elegant. When it’s too cold to go fishing, we sometimes have an overstock of red worms that tend to take over the bait tank, so a couple of years ago, my manicurist, Honey Sue Sweetwater, got the idea of duct-taping them to a wreath, tucking a few evergreens behind them, and hanging them up. Those wriggly worms add an interactive effect that is so popular in decorations nowadays, but they don’t do annoying things like singing whenever anyone walks by. Plus, if Santa brings anybody in your household a new fishing pole, they can always go fishing with the worms who survive the holidays. (Note: Do not hang the wreath in direct sunlight, and be sure to moisten occasionally.) If you got a lot of grabby grandkids who are always tearing up your decorations and popping them in their mouths, a red worm wreath is a sure-fire cure for that. (You can coax the remaining worms to just lean over a little and no one will notice a few are missing.)

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free. Y’all have a Merry Christmas, here?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Redneck Humor, Communion, Bad Books, & Parades

Howdy! Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where we are running our after-Thanksgiving special, “Up-dos That Will Take Folks’ Eyes Off Your Thighs Because You Pigged Out On Cakes and Pies,” for folks who ate all those extra helpings at Thanksgiving. All of us down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop naturally couldn’t take off all those extra pounds, but we were able to increase hair-do heights enough to create an illusion of thinness. (Note: For all y’all who partook of the special but subsequently didn’t heed our warnings regarding ceiling fans or low ceilings, we will repair the damage during our pre-Christmas make-overs.) Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. I hear you write redneck humor. So how’s that working for you?—Your buddy, Dr. P.

Dear Philsie: Not as good as it works for Jeff Foxworthy. Good thing I’ve got Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop to fall back on. (P.S. Thanks for that big tip you gave me last time you came in.)

Dear Ida B. Is anything happening at Our Lady of the Rip-Rap Church out at Slick Water Lake? You rarely mention it anymore.—Wintering in Boca

Dear Boca Babe: What a coincidence! A couple of my customers were just mentioning that Father Rocky Shore is planning another Communion Wine-Tasting Party, on account the one last year was so popular. If this year’s is another hit, they might even go to a Communion Wine Festival in future years. Also this year, because so many folks requested it, Our Lady will have cheese to go on the communion wafers. A committee has formed to decide on what kinds of cheese to offer and if the cheese should be local or imported. They have figured that it will be cheaper to buy in bulk, so they are looking for volunteers to cut the cheese right before each service. The committee working on the proposal to offer fat-free high-fiber wafers hasn’t made a final decision yet. The annual Our Lady of the Rip-Rap Blessing of the Jet Skis had to be postponed because it rained and nobody wanted to get wet during the event.

Dear Ida B. What is going on in our schools!? The other day my grand daughter came home with this awful book that she had checked out of the Rock Bottom Elementary School library. That book was the awfullest thing I ever saw and not fit for kids to read! It was all about parental neglect, cannibalism, violence, and witchcraft! How do we get books such as this “Hansel and Gretel” book out of our schools?—Concerned Gramma

Dear Granny: Not to worry. Nowadays, the average kid ain’t likely to pick up a book and read it anyhow. Unless the teachers or parents tell them not to. You haven’t told your grand daughter not to read it, have you? If you did, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself.

Dear Ida B. I hear that Rock Bottom Town Council is really clamping down on entries Christmas parade this year, but I didn’t hear all the details. What gives?—I Luvva Parade

Dear Luvvie: There’s a lot of new regulations, but the one that affects many is the one that says any manure spreader that is used as the basis for a float needs to be washed out good before it is decorated. A lot of folks last year didn’t clean theirs real good, and some folks who sat on the front row along the parade route so they could get first dibs on candy that was slung their way weren’t happy with what was actually slung their way. The parade committee is still getting the fall-out. Also, floats actually need to be Christmas themed. Any float that appeared in last summer’s Fourth of July parade will not be eligible for prizes, no matter how many elves you might have dancing around a cardboard Statue of Liberty. Also trying to pass off Uncle Sam as Santa Claus doesn’t work, despite the white beard on both. Finally, no matter how bad you want to show off your new John Deere, you got to have a float behind it. Trying to say your float fell off so you can go the route is not good enough. Good luck with your entry.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hanging Bodies, Yankee Re-education & Security

This column originally appeared in the Smith Mountain Eagle on November 14, 2007.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where we’re about midway between two major eating holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving. For Halloween, it didn’t matter much what your hair looked like, but looks are important for Thanksgiving when all those relatives you haven’t seen since last year descend on your house and cast a critical eye on your housekeeping, your cooking, and your looks—specifically how much older you look than you did last year. While we can’t do much about your green bean and mushroom soup casserole or the stains on your carpet, we can get you fixed up enough that your relatives won’t insult your looks as much as they’re generally capable of. So come on down to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop where we’re running our “Makeover to be Thankful For” special. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Yo, Ida B. Whassup with all the violence here in the country? I mean, I moved my wife and kids out of a certain big Eastern city (initials might be N & Y) to get away from vermin and dead bodies. And what do I find here? Vermin and dead bodies! Man, like what gives?
My kids put up a bird feeder and all I see eatin’ outta it is bushy-tailed rats. I mean, city rats got naked tails, at least where we come from. Whassup with that? And the dead bodies. All over the sides of the roads. Where we come from, the bodies were in the streets and on sidewalks. (Or maybe in the East River weighted down with cinder blocks. Not that I have ever been involved with that!) At least your dead bodies have the decency to die beside the road. My kids, however, don’t like this any more than they did the city. They’re upset enough not havin’ sidewalks.

And now, Willie-Bob-Hank-Bubba next door got a dead body hanging in his front yard. Whassup with that? My kid’s all upset ‘cuz there’s this dead body bleeding all over the dirt. Gives him flashbacks to—uh, just forget I mentioned the flashbacks, OK? And it’s got horns coming out of its head. Is this some kind of demon that lives in these parts? I somehow thought the country life would be safer. You been here a while, Ida B. Whaddya think? Should we stay and get used to Willie-Bob-Hank-Bubba and his dead demonic thing? Or should we go back to the city?

And by the way, if you need “protection” in your bait and beauty racket or maybe you’re having trouble with folks not payin’ up on time, I know people. Just say the word.—S.O. Prano (new resident makin’ a new start)

Dear Soppie: Obviously you ain’t from around here. Likely it will take you a while to get used to local customs and wildlife. Fortunately Rock Bottom Community College is once again offering it’s “Yankee Re-education” class for newcomers, wherein you will learn such points of Rock Bottom etiquette as the proper finger to use when returning the Bubba wave, what you can and cannot shoot from a moving vehicle, dumpster safety after dark, when to dumpster dive and when to refrain from doing so, what to do when the well runs dry (and where to do it), how to confront loose livestock, and lots of other stuff. These classes tend to fill up fast, so you’d best enroll early. You might also want to sign up for the “Hazardous Plant and Animal Recognition” class, in which you will learn what cute little furry critters you can approach and which you ought not to get near as well as what plants not to hike through (Note: Until you pass this class, do not let your kids pet any furry little black and white animals. They are not kittens. And any plant with three leaves you do not want to get involved with.) If your wife wants to blend in with the natives, tell her to make an appointment at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop and we’ll see what we can do. If she has a heavy accent, please let us know, so we can have a translator available.

Dear Ida B. We have moved to a really rural area of the county and I am worried about security. We can’t afford one of those fancy security systems. Do you have any ideas about how we can protect ourselves?—Worried

Dear Worried: As a matter of fact, I do. Some of my regular customers down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop were just talking about this. Seems one of them got an email with suggestions to get a pair of men’s boots, size 13 or 14, and leave them on the stoop next to a copy of Guns and Ammo magazine and several very large dog dishes. Then leave a note on the door that you will be back in an hour because you are out buying more ammo and not to go inside because the dawgs attacked the mailman again and you had to pen them up in the house. Now, some of us didn’t think this would leave a strong enough message. Here’s how we improved upon the original suggestion: Duct tape cameras to trees around your property. You might alternate camera placement with “No Trespassing” signs. Also, plant poison ivy around your property. It’s pretty and green and tends to discourage trespassers, or at least it will leave its mark on people who trespass. About 25 feet in from the cameras/signs/poison ivy, put up more signs that read, “If you can read this, you’re in range.” If you have open fields or a big yard, put up signs that say, “Mine Field. Not responsible for accidents.” On your stoop, put up another sign that says, “Walk softly so you won’t wake up the rattlesnakes.” That ought to get the message across to trespassers.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Halloween, Peasants, Tattoos, Kids, & Toilet Paper

This column was originally published on Oct. 31, 2007, in the Smith Mountain Eagle.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where everybody is getting ready for Halloween, so they have just let themselves go and ain’t making any appointments for beauty services until after the fright season is over. When you’re sweating inside a gorilla mask for four or five hours, a new up-do is the last thing on your mind. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. Is Halloween a big deal in Rock Bottom like it is in big cities with all the parties, costumes, decorations, haunted houses, and trick-or-treating?—City Person

Dear City Slicker: Halloween is not a big deal in Rock Bottom because most Rock Bottomites do not generally get involved in anything requiring time, effort, or money. The exception, of course, is Christmas and that is only because they expect to get better presents than they give. Many Rock Bottom houses are already in various states of disrepair so they already look like haunted houses. Some might be actually haunted, but the owners do not make that fact known to potential buyers. As for costumes, residents generally find a look they like and stick with it no matter what. That is why you see so many Rock Bottom men still wearing pastel polyester leisure suits. My manicurist Honey Sue Sweetwater will not wear anything that doesn’t involve a halter-top, so this limits her choice of outfits, not that any of her regular male customers care. As for local teenagers, it is hard to tell if their purple hair, pierced body parts, and ripped clothes are actual costumes or just them trying to “find” themselves by looking funny. Members of the Rock Bottom Road Hunters Association sometimes try to pass their camo outfits off as costumes at Halloween, but many have never worn anything else so no one is convinced they in costume as a bush or a forest or whatever. Trick or treating does not go over well in Rock Bottom because too many folks have bad experiences with guys in masks demanding stuff from them. After you’ve handed over your 8-track player or your credit cards a time or two, you tend not to trust anybody knocking on your door for a handout. While there are plenty of folks out at Slick Water Lake who dress up in costumes and go to parties, what most Rock Bottomites do to celebrate Halloween is buy themselves a big sack of candy, lock their doors and turn out all the lights, and eat the whole sack themselves. This seems to work pretty good for all concerned.

Dear Ida B. A buddy of mine owns a game preserve in a remote area of the county, and he called me to come out and go hunting with him. My cell phone connection ain’t too clear, but I understood him to say we would be shooting red-neck peasants. Ain’t that illegal?—Just Checking

Dear JC: Is it possible he meant ring-necked pheasants? If so, you’re OK. However, if he is in a really remote area and he is feuding with his neighbors, you might want to decline his invitation because of possible legal implications.

Dear Ida B. At age 89 I married a young chick about 78. I don’t know too much about her, except that she lost a lot of weight before we met. She has a lot of tattoos that have gotten so saggy, I can’t tell what they say. They might be the names of former husbands. How can I find out whose names they are without coming right out and asking? She might take offense and then the honeymoon would be over. I thought about kinda stretching her skin out when she is asleep, but the problem is I fall asleep before she does.—Curious

Dear Curious: If all you got to do is wonder what your bride’s tattoos say, I would say the honeymoon is pretty much over. Especially if you’re sleeping through most of it.

Dear Ida B. I have moved down here to Slick Water Lake and really love it. However, my kids and their families stayed up north. How can I convince them to move down here? Having to drive all that way to see the grandkids is a hassle.—Jaz

Dear Jaz: You gotta be kidding, right? Most Slick Water Lakers ask me for advice on how to keep their kids from finding them. Some have even joined the witness protection program, changed their names, etc. However, if you want to attract your kids, my suggestion is offer them money. Lots of it. Few kids can resist the lure of money. If that doesn’t work, maybe you can arrange to have the grandchildren shipped to you. If they are teenagers, their parents are probably at wit’s end and would do anything to get rid of them until they’re old enough to ship off to college. Other than that, I am stumped. Maybe some of my loyal readers will write in with suggestions.

Dear Ida B. I read in the paper that toilet paper prices were rising as of January. Now I have a large family and this will affect me in a big way. Here’s how I plan to save: Every time one of the kids needs to “go,” I will tell him to go to a friend’s house and ask to use the facilities. If all six kids only go at somebody else’s house, that saves me a roll right there. What do you think of that?—Flushed with Excitement

Dear Tightwad: Not much. If you got six kids, all of them probably has a half dozen or so friends each. The parents of all those friends will likely send their kids to your house to “go.” Do the math here. Any savings you thought you might have will be down the drain.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Limp Hair, Heavy Metal, & Costly Book Reviews

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on Oct 17, 2007

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where most of whatever there is to do has mostly been done, so folks have headed somewhere else to do other things. However, if you stuck in Rock Bottom and want to fix yourself up so you don’t look like a fright at Halloween, give us a call down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop and we’ll see what we can do. This time of the year we generally have plenty of openings. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. The other day I was en route to a business meeting when I noticed that my hair was a little limp. Knowing that I had to look my best at the presentation I was about to make, I figured I could swing by home and use my curling iron to freshen my hairdo and maybe spritz on a little more hairspray. Well, no sooner than I walked in the front door, I heard all kinds of giggling and carrying on from the upstairs bathroom. Since my husband works second shift, I figured he’d just watched a funny TV show before showering. Well, when I walked in, I not only found my husband but also my best friend Poovie Mae and they were—well, words fail me, Ida B. Anyhow, after slinging my can of hairspray at Poovie Mae and knocking out her front tooth, which caused me to get splattered with blood, I ran out of there and backed my convertible out of the driveway and right into a garbage truck, which dumped its load on top of me (I had the top down). While the cop was writing me a ticket for reckless driving, my cellphone rang and it was the school saying my son skipped class to go shop-lifting. Well, I was late to my meeting and lost my job. Ida B., what should I do?—Distraught

Dear Distraught: If I was you, I’d make make an appointment right away for a body perm here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop. If you’d done that earlier you wouldn’t be in such a mess. Also, ain’t nothing like a new hair-do to brighten your outlook.

Dear Ida B. What do you think of heavy metal?—Luvs It Loud

Dear Loud Luver: I like heavy metal for lawn furniture. That plastic stuff just don’t hold up as good. I’ve got some heavy metal chairs I’ve owned for over three decades, and it still looks as good as new, except for a dent in one where I threw it at one of my ex-husbands. I also like heavy metal bumpers on vehicles. If you happen to collide with escaped livestock, that heavy metal bumper can be a lifesaver. Well, for you, not the livestock. I don’t care for heavy metal hair curlers, though. We tried them once down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop, and they weighed down customers’ heads too much and left rust marks on their scalps. Then there was that unfortunate thunderstorm when one of our customers had a full head of heavy metal curlers when the lightning struck, but I’m not at liberty to talk about that until after the case is settled. Consequently, we sold most of our remaining heavy metal curlers to be used as fishing sinkers, and folks seem to think they worked real well.

Dear Ida B. I have wrote a book while I was doing time—uh, when I had a lot of time on my hands, and when I had access to the printing facilities at the place where I was staying for 2 to 4 (but I got time off for good behavior!), I sorta self-published, though you might say my printing costs were underwrote by the government. Anyhow, I’ve got a thousand copies under my bed, or at least what I don’t have in the back of my pick-up on any given day. It is real tiring selling books off the side of the road, especially with the cops stopping by so often. Ida B., I know you have wrote some books, so I am now wondering if you could give me some advice on how to sell my book of existential poems that will touch your heart, “Although Mama Tried, It Was Incarceration That Adjusted My Attitude, or Zen and the Art of Making License Plates.”—Time Out

Dear Doing Time: Yes, it is true that I have written some books, and I have found that folks don’t buy books they have never heard of, but of course everybody who comes into Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop is given the opportunity to buy my books. Now the other day, our local poet, Anna Motter Peyah, who often conducts classes in written expression of the poetical kind at the Rock Bottom Institute of Livestock and Literary Management, has branched out. Since her classes in the “Passion of Poetry and De-Horning Cattle” hadn’t filled up the way she wanted, she had to get a part-time job as the person who writes up orders over at the Rock Bottom Automotive Repair Shop. Anyhow, she has a lot of time on her hands, since it don’t take long to write, “Fix this transmission by Tuesday,” which is what she has to write since her longer poetical attempts weren’t appreciated because no mechanic wants to read: “The Chevy is red, the tire is flat, the gas tank is leaky, can you fix that?” Anyhow, she has gone into the book review business. For $25 she will write a review and post it on bathroom walls in at least five Rock Bottom establishments. Her reviews all tend to be the same: “(Title) by (author) is a must read for anyone who wants (pick one: to have his or her heart or other major organ touched/to have a good laugh/to have a good cry/to read something that don’t have big words). If this is the sort of book you like, you will like this book.” You might want to look into her services. Then again, you might not.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Rats, Education, & Gas

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on Oct. 3, 2007.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where ain’t much happening this week, so lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. I understand that over in Big Mall City they are having problems with rats in their schools. Does Rock Bottom have a rat problem?—E. Eking

Dear Eek: Well, the little rats in the Rock Bottom schools generally drop out at an early age, but some of the rats I’ve been married to have been—oh, were you maybe referring to the 4-legged kind? In that case, Rock Bottom rats ain’t a problem; they’re a solution. The Rock Bottom schools have found creative ways to deal with their rats. In the elementary schools, each classroom has its own dog, either a Jack Russell or a rat terrier, which takes care of problems that arise and provide an interesting science lesson in survival of the fittest, fastest, and bittingest. When not dealing with rats, these feisty little dogs also help with classroom discipline. It only takes a few nips to the ankles to let a rowdy kid know he’d better stay in his seat.

At Rock Bottom Middle School, each class maintains a spirit rat, which they dress in class colors and use to compete against other class rats. Teachers decided that class rats provided the perfect way to introduce students to the rat race. Consequently, rat races are especially popular, and figuring odds and handicaps is a fun way for the kids to learn advanced math skills. While a few kids on the football team had been holding rat fights out behind the bleachers, this has been stopped and the rats involved are being patched up and rehabilitated.

At the high school, rats are used in the family life skills class. Used to, every gal in the class was assigned an egg, which she had to pretend was a baby and carry it around and tend to its supposed needs. That did not work too good, because some of them egg-babies got slung at other kids and a few got scrambled for the next day’s breakfast. By the end of the first week, there wasn’t an uncracked egg-baby left. Then, the school changed to having the gals haul around 10-pound sacks of flour, but those flour-babies left a dusting wherever they was sat.

When a bunch of the gals left their flour babies setting on a cafeteria table and returned to find the cafeteria ladies had used them to bake pizza crust, the family life teachers didn’t know what to do until the cafeteria ladies complained about the rat problem. The janitor trapped a bunch of rats and—since they looked too cute to get rid of—the teachers just assigned one to each gal to be her class project in baby care.

Well, it took a while, but eventually the gals really took to them rats. They made them little rat outfits in home ec and taught them tricks in physical education. Some even put ’em in strollers and rolled ’em all over town. If you think they’re not learning proper baby-handling skills, you just try putting a Huggie on a squirming rat. Any gal who can master that skill is prepared for the worst that a toddler can throw at her. At first, parents weren’t too thrilled with having to house and support the rats, but some of the daddies decided the rats, which the girls took with them on dates, were a good idea. Any boy who let his hand wander where it ought not to be was immediately bitten, and the bite marks were proof to the gals’ daddies that the boys were up to no good.

So, while some schools consider rats a liability, in the Rock Bottom schools, rats are considered an asset.

Dear Ida B. Been reading in daily RagStar that purchasing power of our 17 cent per gallon gasoline tax is being "eroded" by inflation. We need a gas tax increase to keep up! Not sure about this erosion thing, but seems to me that if we purchase more gallons of gasoline year to year, then somebody (at the state capital?) gets more and more gasoline tax revenue year to year. More and more gas tax revenue to waste (sorry) no matter what hillside that inflation thing is eroding. —E.T. at Buck Run on Slick Water Lake

Dear ET: For some reason, I want to tell you to phone home. Could be your wife is looking for you. Anyhow, I would not worry about erosion out at Slick Water Lake. It is part of the economy. Every time erosion opens up a gully and it fills with water, a gang of real estate agents start calling it a cove, give it a fancy name, charge inflated prices for lots on either side of it, and sell those lots to yankees who think they’re getting a good deal. Then, when that gully dries up and fills with junk, those realtors will sell the yankees another lot on another gully with another fancy name at an even higher inflated price. If the gully is real big, then some out-of-state developer moves in, bulldozes everything off, builds condos, and sells those at even more inflated prices. All those realtors use a lot of gas driving around, and so do all those yankees who are looking for their retirement homes. Plus they will use more and more gas to drive their big SUVs miles to find somewhere to shop because it is hard to squeeze a shopping center in those gullies. If folks at the state capital get a cut, that is just how the wealth is spread around. Basically, this is how the economy works at Slick Water Lake. If they ever run out of yankees or eroded gullies, the whole economy will likely collapse.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Thanks to ET for letter #2. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stickers, Tomaters, Camping, & Run-downs

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on September 5, 2007.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where we are now back to normal what with Labor Day being over, most of the tourists and houseguests who have overstayed their welcome gone back to where ever they were from, and the kids back in school—leastways the ones who ain’t been expelled again. It is cause to celebrate, so we are running our annual “Wash Them Freeloaders Right Outta Your Hair” special. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. I seen in the Big Mall City paper that a neighboring county is doing away with the county stickers that go on windshields. The county where I mostly reside when I’m not incarcerated still requires stickers. I can’t afford them things anymore, what with having to pay those extra fees for reckless driving and all. I’m wondering if I couldn’t just scrape off what’s left of my sticker and say I’m from the county that don’t require them. It ain’t like they could check my driver’s license to see if I’m telling the truth. My license was revoked years ago. What do I have to lose?—Am I smart or what?

Dear What: Based on your letter, I don’t think you have much of anything left to lose. It sounds like you’re already a pretty big loser. I will enter your letter in my loser of the week contest.

Dear Ida B. The other day my wife sent me to the store for some of them sun-dried tomatoes to put in some kinda new-fangled recipe, but before I got there I stopped to help Bubba Jr., DeWayne, and Darrell rebuild a transmission. Darrell said he’d give me some fresh tomatoes outta his garden so I set them on the hood of my truck whilst we got the transmission fixed. By the time we finished, the store was closed, but those tomatoes had been setting in the sun for several hours and looked pretty dried out to me, so I figured they’d do. Well, don’t you know my wife pitched a pit and it wasn’t just because I was a little late—maybe five or six hours. She said she is tired of me disregarding her instructions and ruining her dinner party, which I maybe forgot she was having. Anyhow, now she says I owe her a new skillet on account hers got damaged while she was whopping me upside the head with it. Tell me, Ida B., what is it women want?—Clueless

Dear Clueless: I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a husband who is so stupid that he don’t come home when he is supposed to with what he is supposed to. I suggest you get her the new frying pan and you attach to the handle a gift certificate for Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop. Also flowers. And maybe candy. Possibly a new car and not one that you rebuilt. Then maybe you will be worth forgiving. But don’t count on it. Meanwhile, I am entering your letter in the loser of the week contest.

Dear Ida B. I have been living in various campgrounds around Slick Water Lake for the last few years. The problem has been that I no sooner get settled in that I got to move. Now I hear that a law might be in the works to allow us, uh, “campers” to stay at least six months at one campground. This will be a lot more convenient but brings up the question of etiquette. Currently, every few weeks me and my buddies have rotated. For example, I move from my campsite at Soggy Shores Campground to Bubba’s site at Camper’s Paradox and Bubba would go to Buren’s site at Boggy Bay Campground and Buren would go to Clem’s site at Mosquito Isle Campground and Clem would go to Clevis’s site at Stagnant Waters Campground and Clevis would move to my site. Now that we can stay longer, should we just pair off into two-man teams and swap back and forth every six months, or do we need to keep rotating? If we pair off, who decides who gets what campground? Some are better than others. —Camper in Transit.

Dear Camper: I think y’all ought to keep moving the way y’all are already doing. Y’all strike me as the kind who can wear out their welcomes pretty quick. In fact, y’all might consider moving to some out-of-state campgrounds. I hear they got some nice ones on the other side of the country.

Dear Ida B. I am tired of my mama-in-law running me down all the time and calling me a lazy good-for-nothing who ain’t fit to have married her daughter. Granted, I don’t have a job, but I’m a real go-gitter. My wife works two jobs and I drive her to both of them and then I go git ’er, even though it disrupts my TV-watching and my napping something awful. I usually let her ride right up in the cab of the pick-up, too, unless Ol’ Blue don’t feel like riding in back. What can I do to get my mama-in-law to stop running me down?—Misunderstood Male

Dear Lazy Good-For-Nothing: If I was your mama-in-law, I would run you down, too. Only I’d use an F-250 with four-wheel drive. Now get outta that recliner and go get a job! As it stands now, you are a strong contender for loser of the week down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop. I hope your mama-in-law is here the day that we do the voting.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free. If you need More Peevish Advice, it’s available on and at the General Store in Westlake. Or flag me down on the highway; I’ve usually got a copy or two that I can spare.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tight Dresses, Rental Dawgs, & Traffic

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on August 22, 2007.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop where most of my clients have been marking time until their kids go back to school and they can see some peace and quiet. Mainly they will have time to get theirselves fixed up again down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop. Some are concerned about a certain high school’s “tighter dress code” on account their daughters’ dresses are about as tight as they can get, and the gals don’t see how they can get them any tighter to bring them up to code. I just refer them to the Rock Bottom House of Polyester up at the mall where Spandex is always a good fashion choice. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. I seen a while back in the Big Mall City paper that some folks in one of them big cities has started a business wherein they arrange for other folks to get timeshares in dawgs. Kinda like the dawgs is owned by a bunch of folks instead of just one. Since I own quite a few dawgs that I only use during hunting season, I figger this is a good way to make a little extra cash and let others feed my dawgs at the same time. I would like to learn how this system works, on account I don’t think I did it right. What I done was drive Flossie and her pups out to one of them real classy Slick Water Lake neighborhoods. I didn’t see nary a dawg in sight, so I figured folks there might be needful of them. I thought I had the rope tied real good to Flossie and the pups when I knocked on the door of a big house, but when some lady opened the door them dawgs broke loose and commenced to running through the place. The lady commenced to squalling and carrying on like you wouldn’t believe whilst I tried to explain my rate system to her. Well, it weren’t long til them dawgs came running out with pieces of some fur coat in their mouths. Then the woman really pitched a fit. She said they had ruined her 1920s raccoon coat that she had just bought off eBay. (I’m not familiar with that store, but if it ain’t in Rock Bottom, it probably ain’t worth shopping at.) I tried to explain that a coat that old ain’t fit to wear on account you don’t know what kinda crawly critters have took up residence in it, but I don’t think she paid me no mind.

Now, Ida B., my question is, how do I get her to pay the vet bill for them pups. Eating that coat made them real sick to their stomachs, and one thing you do not want is several hound dawgs throwing up all over the seat of your pick-up on a regular basis. After I dropped the pups off at the vet, I drove the pick-up through the carwash with the windows down and that took care of the mess, so I figure she owes me the $5 for that expense, too.—Needs to Collect

Dear Needy: Odds are good she ain’t gonna pay you. I figure you just need to cut your losses. Maybe you can claim it as a deduction on your taxes, but I’m guessing you never got around to paying taxes. You might be thrilled—or at least consoled—to know that your letter qualified you for the “Stupidest Thing a Man Has Done This Week” award that we give here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop. All of my customers voted you as the winner. When you come in to collect your complimentary can of nightcrawlers, please do not bring your dawgs.

Dear Ida B. I have condo at Slick Water Lake where I spend most weekends and holidays, and I am having a terrible problem getting there. Once there, I have a terrible time driving from one place to another. All the roads are full of cars—sometimes bumper to bumper. I have tried blasting the horn on my Hummer to try to get people to move out of the way, but there’s not much “out of the way” left, what with all the shops and condos built right up to the roadside. Is something going to be done about the crowded road situation?—Impatient Out-of-Towner

Dear Out-of-It: As a matter of fact, some plans are in the works right now. Town council, which meets at the Rock Bottom Bar & Grill after bowling on Thursday nights was discussing the matter recently. Their plans ain’t been leaked to the press, but they have been plugged into the gossip pipeline here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop by a very reputable source (my manicurist, Honey Sue Sweetwater who moonlights as a waitress at the RBB&G). It seems that several folks are going to build helicopter pads around Slick Water Lake for purposes of emergency transport. Most situations will qualify as emergency. For example, when you want to go to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop, ain’t that an emergency? If so, the helicopter will pick you up and drop you off. All you got to do is stand on your deck and catch on to the rope ladder that they’ll drop. If you are afraid of heights, you’d best get over it. Another option is the Slick Water Lake Ferry. A group of investors are planning on operating ferry boats to take you from one place to another on the lake. If you don’t want to go any particular place—no problem. The Ferry can convert to a sight-seeing boat pretty doggone quick. This should take care of some of the traffic problem, or at least move it to the air and the lake.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free. But if you want to pay for my advice, More Peevish Advice is available. It’s the perfect gift to give houseguests who have overstayed their welcome, and I know some of y’all still got guests who came for Easter week and ain’t left yet.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Plots, Umbrella Rage, & Assorted Debris

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on August 8, 2007. The Britney Spears reference dates it a bit. . . .

Howdy, Ida b. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom US of A, where we are in the home stretch of summer, and it’s too hot to do much of anything. If you ain’t got nothing better to do, you might as well come on down to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop and get a new look for fall.

Dear Ida B. My husband and I love our home on Slick Water Lake and we want to stay here forever. However, we have noticed that there are very few cemeteries in the area. Do you have any idea where we can get a burial plot?—Aging Gracefully

Dear Gracie: Lots of folks are dying to stay in the area but must face the fact of being shipped elsewhere when the inevitable happens. But the grave situation you face is opening up. Over at Rock Bottom Church of the Surging Inner Spirit, Rev. Al E. Looyah is willing to make a deal for the few remaining plots in the church cemetery and is currently accepting sealed bids. Just slip yours into the collection plate next time you’re there. At the end of the year, Rev. Al will announce the winners. Also, if you so choose, you may buy a section of the church parking lot to be buried in. Your headstone will mark the memorial parking space in your honor. In fact, if you want to buy a plot and erect your headstone now, you will be able to park your car right there every Sunday and most Bingo nights if you pay a slight extra charge for the parking fee. Rev. Al figures this is a win-win situation for everybody.

Now, if you ain’t a member of Rock Bottom Church of the Surging Inner Spirit, there is another option: Slick Water Lake Country Club. The management of the club figured that it wouldn’t hurt the golf course much to inter folks underneath it and could provide a needed service as well as extra income for the club. In fact, many members spend most of their lives golfing, so spending eternity on the golf course is right up their alley. The only downside is that you can’t have a headstone unless it is flush with the ground and if you elect interment in one of the sand traps, you can’t have any marker at all. Likewise for the putting greens. And you can’t have a graveside service during tournaments. Of course, preference is given to those who are already members for the RBCC’s “Hole in One” Burial Plan.

Some developers on the few open spaces around Slick Water Lake are being pressured to include green space in their development plans. A couple of them figured that they can combine green space with a cemetery, and kill two birds with one stone. Look for the “Buy a Lot, Get a Plot” promotion that guarantees homeowners a final resting place within sight of their chosen homesite.

A few of the Rock Bottom agrarian professionals are thinking about selling space under their hayfields, but they haven’t worked out all the details yet. It probably wouldn’t hurt to approach a few privately and slip them a few dollars to reserve a place, if a pastoral—or pastural—setting is what you had in mind.

Dear Ida B. I been hearing about Britney Spears apologizing to folks for her umbrella rage. Why do you reckon she was mad at her parasol?—A fan

Dear Fanny: She wasn’t mad at her parasol. She was mad at somebody in a car, and hit the car with her umbrella. We discussed this at length down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop, and the consensus is that she could have done a lot better at pitching a fit. One of the alternatives suggested by my customers was kicking in a car door, but those who have tried that said not to wear flip-flops or sandals when you do it. Steel-toed boots, while not especially feminine or dressy, are the only footwear you want to wear for car-door kicking. Another customer suggested bashing somebody’s head into a doublewide (a singlewide works just as well but is not as spectacular), but legal fees and repair bills can be expensive for this.

Dear Ida B. We live out on Slick Water Lake and we’re just appalled at all the debris that washes into our cove every time it rains. Can’t somebody do something?—Pristine

Dear Priss: As matter of fact, something has been done. Several dozen committees were formed to deal with this very problem, and they came up with an idea based on the Rock Bottom Rescue-a-Roadway program wherein street-walkers pick up trash. Originally they wanted folks to sign up to wade in the shallows and pick up trash along the lake, but they found out it is durn hard to stuff a 500-pound log into a plastic trashbag and most folks don’t find it comfortable to wade over riprap. Consequently, they came up with the “Cruise the Cove” program, wherein teenagers are issued jet skis for the purpose of towing the flotsam and jetsam out of coves as fast as they can. The kids have a good time, and except for the occasional swimmer or skier knocked over by the towed log, everything seems to be working out. Well, there was the instance of a couple of party-goers who saw an odd shaped log zipping across the lake and didn’t see the jet ski towing it and thought that the Lock Ness monster had moved into Slick Water Lake. Fortunately, there are enough weird things happening at the lake that most folks didn’t get overly upset at the rumor, other than a few committees putting up signs that say “Don’t feed the Slick Water Lake monster within 50 feet of the shoreline.”

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Courtly Stuff & Statue Beheadings

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on July 11, 2007.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop located in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where it is too doggone hot to do much of anything, but for some reason we have a steady stream of male customers wanting manicures now that my manicurist Honey Sue Sweetwater has started wearing her bikini to work so she can go straight to Slick Water Lake after she gets off. Now lessee what we got in the mail. Most of it seems to be of a courtly nature.

Dear Ida B. I was in downtown Rock Bottom the other day and weren’t nary a soul on the street. I walked past the courthouse and happened to look in the window. The place was packed with old codgers just setting there and watching a trial. What is going on? Was there a big case that I didn’t hear about?—Visitor

Dear Visitor: Not much happens in Rock Bottom to warrant a big case. We don’t have much criminal activity here on account nobody has anything worth stealing, so most criminals go to bigger cities to commit their crimes. What we do have in the courthouse is air conditioning and comfortable chairs, so a lot of locals wander in to partake of those amenities after they’ve gotten a manicure from Honey Sue Sweetwater here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop. Plus they get entertained by finding out who is passing bad checks, who shop-lifted, who trespassed and how, and who is involved in domestic disturbances. Watching trials is better than watching reruns on TV, and you are likely to know or be kin to the folks involved. Shortly after court is dismissed, news of who is guilty and what they’re guilty of hits the streets. Soon all this gossip makes its way to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop where we improve on it considerably.

My dee-vorce lawyer, Maycomb Philmore Payne, says he is now being asked for his autograph pretty regularly by some of his fans in the courtroom, so he is thinking about having little legal action figures made up to sell during court recesses.

Commonwealth Attorney Noll Prost has given some thought to charging admission to some of the more spectacular trials, but figured if he charged the spectators for watching, he might have to pay the accused for appearing. Consequently, it is still free to watch court cases in air-conditioned comfort, so that is why it is popular with a lot of Rock Bottomites. Also many wives lock the old codgers out during the day so they don’t get underfoot, and they have to go somewhere until their wives let them back in.

If you’d like to watch the proceedings, you’d best get there early for a good seat. They go fast on hot days.

Dear Ida B. Regarding the previous letter, does the Rock Bottom court have anybody like that TV Judge Judy. She is really hot!—Court-Watcher

Dear Old Codger: The Rock Bottom judge, the honorable Thoreau D’Booke Adam, is not exactly what you’d call hot except when the air conditioning at the courthouse goes on the fritz. In fact, many who have been found guilty by him say he is kinda cold-hearted where mercy is concerned. Since he is getting up in years, possibly his replacement will be hotter.
Ms. A. Judy Kater is a young up-and-coming defense attorney who might move up to a judgmental post when Judge Adam retires or expires, whichever comes first. She is about the only other official in court who might be considered hot on a fairly regular basis. However, her defensive clients are mostly the ones who are charged with writing bad checks, and when she gets them off, they pay her by check. Then she has to get a warrant against them when their checks bounce, they hire her again, they pay her by check—well, you can see how she stays busy but doesn’t make much money in the legal field. Therefore, she sometimes models for the Rock Bottom House of Polyester up at the mall to make a little extra money and to get her courtroom attire at a good discount. The week she was modeling swimwear in court, there was standing room only in the courtroom and not just when the bailiff said, “All rise.”

Dear Ida B. In the town where I live, some feller run his truck into the statue of our generic Confederate hero and demolished it. Has anything like that ever happened in Rock Bottom?—Rocky Mounty

Dear R.M. As a matter of fact, it has. Just last week, a mule kicked the statue of the Unknown Confederate Camp-Follower and knocked off most of her skirt. At first a lot of folks were indignant, but then they realized two important things: (1) the repairs would cost money and (2) the Unknown Confederate Camp-Follower did her best work without her skirt. Thus, they figured they could live with the damage.

For those of y’all who ain’t heard about the Unknown Confederate Camp-Follower, she was the gal who entertained General Hooker and his troops so well that he forgot about invading Rock Bottom, so all of the deserters who had been hiding were saved. Since Rock Bottom didn’t have any other Civil War heroes to speak of, unless you count General C. U. Later who was bitten by an alligator while hiding in a swamp (the “C.U. Later/Alligator” skirmish), 19th century Rock Bottomites decided to honor someone who had done something to benefit them.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.
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Monday, June 02, 2008

Hands-On Religion, Romance & Tick-picking

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on June 27, 2007. My attempt to be timely now appears sadly out-dated. Remember when Paris Hilton was in jail? And my book has been out for nearly a year!

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop located in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where Rev. Al E. Looyah wants me to tell y’all that he will not be conducting services at the Rock Bottom Church of the Surging Inner Spirit for a while on account of he had to go to California to do some hands-on ministering to a little gal named Paris Hilton who is having a hard time coping with her imprisonment. Rev. Al is especially good at hands-on ministering to good-looking little gals, especially those with money. Anyhow, he says that the congregation can just play Bingo on Sunday mornings until he gets back, as long as they tithe 10% of their winnings. He is aware that most of the congregation does their most fervent praying during Bingo, especially when some good prizes are at stake. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. Now that Paris Hilton is doing time for all that wild stuff she did, what do you reckon that little accessory dog of her is doing? Are little bitty accessory dogs popular in Rock Bottom? Doggie Lady

Dear DL: I figure that little Tinkerbelle dog is celebrating. Finally he can just be a dog instead of having to wear all them little outfits and get taken to places that ain’t fit for a dog. As for Rock Bottom having little accessory dogs, the only place you will find them is at the Rock Bottom Mobile Home Park where the homeowners association rules require at least three chihuahuas per singlewide and five per doublewide. These feisty little dogs provide security because bite marks on the ankles can discourage many a would-be burglar. However, they are also accessory to a number of crimes, becuase it’s easy to get your pocket picked when you are distracted by something biting you on the ankle.

Dear Ida B. My potential fiancee and I will be at Slick Water Lake to look at condos we’re thinking of buying, and I want to pop the question to her in a romantic setting. I’m thinking of a picnic in a meadow, with wine and whatever gourmet meal travels well in a picnic hamper. As we lie in the grass, I want to propose to her. Afterwards, we will run through the tall grass together. What do you think? Where can I find a suitable meadow in the vicinity of Rock Bottom?—Romantic at Heart

Dear Lunatic at Heart: All of us down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait shop are laughing about your plans. For a while, we couldn’t figure out what a meadow was because no one around here uses that term. Then we figured that it was either a hayfield or a pasture on account of the tall grass. Of course, at certain times neither will have tall grass depending on whether the hay has just been cut or the grass is all gnawed off by whatever livestock is living there. Anyhow, after we all stopped laughing at your stupidity, we decided that you need a little educating in the ways of rural America.

For one thing, tall grass ain’t romantic on account of the critters therein. Granted, picking ticks off each other can be an intimate experience y’all will not long forget, but there ain’t no easy way to get the chiggers off yourself, much less someone else. Chiggers are an irritation that keeps on irritating. I will not even get into the snake-in-the-grass problem.

Now, should you try to have the romantic moment in a cow pasture, you have an additional set of irritations. Cows are not picky where they go, and I’m not talking direction here. If you plop down in a pasture, you are likely to experience a cow pie up close and personal, and I’m not talking pastry. Also, if you do much cavorting around and running, make sure you ain’t wearing a red garment (or if you have divested yourself of garments make sure your sunburn ain’t too red). Otherwise, you might get a little more personal attention from the bull than you would like. I hope you can run fast. Trying to out-run a half-ton of angry bovine don’t exactly make for a romantic encounter, especially if you have to stop and scratch your chigger bites.

As for gourmet meals, all you can get in Rock Bottom is something deep-fried, which is likely to attract a lot of flies while you are busy popping the question. One advantage to the deep-fried food, though, is that if your intended has fat fingers, the grease can help you slide the ring on a little better.

If it’s a romantic setting you’re after, most of us down here at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop suggest that you and your sweetie just go to the Rock Bottom Drive-In Movie Theater (which has a full service snack bar), park in the last row where you have more privacy than up-front, and wait for a dull part in the movie before you propose.

Dear Ida B. Can you suggest some good summer reading? I will be having guests arriving weekly at my Slick Water Lake home, so I need something escapist that doesn’t have a complex plot, can be read in spare moments, and can be easily replaced if my guests steal it when I’m not looking.—Lite Reader

Dear Lit Reader: You are in luck! My latest book, More Peevish Advice, is now available. It certainly meets all your criteria. In fact, More Peevish Advice will make its world debut on July 11 at 2:00 p.m. at the Daily Grind in downtown Rocky Mount. Please do not confuse Rocky Mount with Rock Bottom; one is hilly and the other ain’t. I am able to get away from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop on account everybody is too sweaty in mid-July to want to get their hair fixed.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hitting Rock Bottom & Trading Spouses

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on June 13, 2007.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop located in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where it has been hot and humid so lots of folks have suffered from limp hair syndrome (LHS). If you are a LHS sufferer, do not despair—Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop can help. For one thing, thanks to computer technology and the plastics industry, we can design a plastic replica of a good hair-do and attach it to your head so, at least from a distance, you project the appearance of good hair. This is expensive, so the ladies partaking of this solution mainly live at Slick Water Lake where they are pleased with the results while water-skiing and jet-skiing. Well, except for the one who the one whose head was inadvertently hooked during the last bass tournament and was reeled again against her will. Luckily, she escaped during the weigh-in and—since the hook was embedded in the plastic and not her head—suffered no actual injuries, other than being embarrassed about her weight displayed to the onlookers. Now lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. I read on Britney Spears’ blog that she “hit Rock Bottom” which then caused her to go into rehab” When did she hit and was Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop one of the places she hit?—Britney’s Big Fan

Dear Brit’s Big Fannie: I cannot verify this, although it may have happened. With all the tanned scantily-dressed young gals with attitudes that come into Rock Bottom nowadays, it is possible that she came in and was unnoticed except by some of the old coots who hang around the bait tank and pretend to be too helpless to dip their own minnows so they often ask young gals in short skirts to lean over the tank and dip out minnows for them. She could have been the one that leaned over so far that her hair went into the tank and got full of minnows, and who then grabbed my best cutting scissors and sheared off all her hair to get the minnows out. If that was her, she owes me for the damage to my scissors when she flung them at the old coots who were making comments about her, the loss of income from the minnows that I couldn’t get back into the tank in time, and the expense of having to hire someone to sweep up her hair that she left all over the place before she ran out and jumped into her sports car and sped off. I don’t know where she went after she left, but rehab is as good a place as any after you leave Rock Bottom.

Dear Ida B. My husband, Big Earl, is getting to be a real problem—and I mean more so than most men. All he does is set in his recliner and bark out orders. I thought for sure he would get out of the house when fishing season commenced, but he says the lake is too crowded and it’s too hot. Also, he might be still be hiding out from his latest fishing incident. See, he finds it a lot more efficient to just throw a stick of dynamite into the lake and let the fish float to the top. Then he scoops up what he needs and leaves the rest for others. Well, the last time he done this, he flung the dynamite into what he thought was a quiet cove but was actually where the Kamikaze Kayakers go skinny-dipping. Well, right after the BOOM, the air was filled with curses and a couple dozen nekkid women and air-borne kayaks heading straight for him. Big Earl says he was lucky to get away alive, and he still has dreams about nekkid women with paddles.

Anyhow, I have been watching these TV shows about trading spouses and houses and such. How does that work? I would like to trade up from Big Earl, and our leaky singlewide that needs major repairs. If I could get a makeover in the bargain, that would be a plus.—Big Pearl

Dear Big Pearl: Yours is not an uncommon complaint in Rock Bottom. In fact, so many clients of Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop have complained about their husbands and expressed a desire to trade them in on another model, that we are running a “Grab Bag Hubby Swap Makeover” special. How it works is like this: in order to lure some unsuspecting husbands in to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop, we will advertise some bait specials too good to resist at an agreed-upon time when their wives will be here getting makeovers. When I blow a whistle, the wives will leap out of their chairs, throw a sheet over their husbands, and duct-tape it firmly in place. The men will be herded to a corner of the shop where my manicurist Honey Sue Sweetwater will attach numbers to them. Then, after each wife finishes her makeover, she will draw a number and take home whoever matches that number. As soon as she gets her match home, she will start nagging him to do whatever repairs her home needs before she releases him into the wild to find his way home. We realize that this is only a temporary solution, and there is the slight possibility that you might get your own hubby back, but it is the best we could come up with.

If your hubby won’t be lured in by our bait special and flatly refuses to leave his recliner, I suggest you duct-tape him into it and haul him in an appliance dolly down to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop. Hope this helps.

Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Porch Setting, Road Walking, & Picking Up

This column was originally published in the Smith Mountain Eagle on May 30, 2007.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where we are gearing up for the official Memorial Day onslaught of tourists to Slick Water Lake. Rumor has it that many long-time lake residents have already started hiding inside their homes with the blinds drawn tight and ain’t answering their phones or emails until Labor Day to avoid the steady stream of company they would otherwise get. Others have taken to their boats and won’t come ashore until under the cover of darkness. Several have visited Ida’s salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop to get their appearances changed so relatives would not recognize them. Now, lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. Rumor has it that you left Rock Bottom to attend the Grand Re-Opening of the Smith Mountain Eagle. I was speedin’ down Rt. 616 about 2:30 on the afternoon of May 11, 2007, and could have sworn I saw you settin’ on the porch. I would’ve stopped, but when you’re doin’ 75 while towin’ a ski-boat, it ain’t advisable to slam on the brakes. Was it really you or did my near-sighted old eyes deceive me?—A Fan

Dear Fanny: Your eyes have it right. That was me setting on the SME porch. They had a real nice shindig in their new place. Since they offered free eats, naturally a lot of folks stopped by. Their new place still needs work. There wasn’t a rocking chair to be had on their porch, much less a comfy truck seat to set on. While their front yard had plenty of shrubbery, it lacked a car up on blocks or a major appliance out front to make a distinctive decorating statement. Plus there wasn’t a pink flamingo or a painted truck-tire flower bed in sight. Anyhow, everybody had a real good time. It’s just as well that you didn’t stop. That left more food for the rest of us.

Dear Ida B. I’ve been away from Rock Bottom for a while, but got out early on good behavior, so now I’m back. The place sure has changed since I’ve been gone. Why are there so many potholes in the Rock Bottom roads and what’s with all them new road signs? Plus, I’m seeing a lot more women walking the streets than I used to see. What’s going on?—Pa Rolled

Dear Pa: What you are seeing is the effects of the highway department’s “Rescue a Road” program wherein former litterers now pass theirselves off as responsible citizens by picking up the litter they threw down months earlier. They get their names painted on signs which consequently block the views of what little bit of scenery Rock Bottom used to have, provide new places for wandering dawgs to lift their legs, and give the Rock Bottom Road-Hunters more places for target practice. Since the signs cost the highway department plenty to put up and maintain, there ain’t money left to fix the roads.

Mavis Peabody started the whole road rescue thing in Rock Bottom when a friend of hers bragged about how she got recognition for allegedly cleaning up a road that nobody ever littered in the first place. Mavis, who figured having her name painted on a sign is a lot classier than having it wrote on a bathroom wall, signed up to pick up trash along the cleanest road in Rock Bottom. The road she picked is halfway between two fast food eateries, so along this particular stretch, folks have already thrown out their trash from the first place and won’t have any more trash to throw out until they get to the second place. Mostly Mavis just sashays along the road with her designer litter bag and tries to look busy.

When Glorie-Hallie Looyah, wife of Rev. Al E. Looyah of the Rock Bottom Church of the Surging Inner Spirit, got wind of what Mavis was doing, she didn’t want to be upstaged. Glorie-Hallie has a certain reputation to maintain, so she convinced the Surging Sisters of Sunshine that they ought to walk the streets to see what they could pick up, too. Of course, Mavis had already got the best street, so the Surging Sisters had to make do with what was left.
When the Surging Sisters realized folks might see them bend over and pick up trash, they signed up for the “Sags ’n’ Bags” class at Rock Bottom Fitness Center to get their saggy parts perked up. Then they had to buy special exercise outfits with shoes to match. (I know all about this because after each class they have to come in to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait shop and get their hair-dos redone because all that sweating and grunting and shaking and shimmying can really do a number on a hair-do, regardless of whether it is done in the gym or behind closed doors or right out on the street.) Finally, they decided to get new outfits to wear during the actual pick-up process, and they had to color coordinate with each other so they didn’t clash.

Well, it turns out that—what with all the shopping, exercising, coordinating, and hair re-doing—they don’t have time or energy to actually do any picking up, but they still walk the streets so folks can admire their outfits, toned-up bodies, and hair-dos. As Glorie-Hallie explained when she was getting her legs waxed the other day, “Doing good deeds ain’t important; having folks think you are doing good deeds is what actually counts.” She was about to say more when I ripped off a big piece of wax and leg hair, and she commenced to screaming and cussing, which kind of derailed her train of thought.

Well, that’s it for another go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free. However, my new book, More Peevish Advice, is available, but you will have to cough up some cash for it or whip out some plastic. It’s the perfect gift to give to folks you don’t like but are obligated to give a gift to, and you will want to buy a copy to put in your guest room so maybe your unwanted guests will take the hint.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cheese Curls, Betting, & Short LIfe

This was originally published on May 16, 2007

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where we are starting our Pre-season Bikini Wax Special. If you get it done now, the scars will have healed by the time bathing suit season is officially here. Plus most folks won’t have opened their windows yet, so not many will hear your screams. Now, lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. My wife has a real classy desk job and makes enough money to keep me in beer and cheese curls, pay the cable TV bill, and put gas in my pick-up, so I ain’t complaining. However, all those years of setting in a chair have caused her to get kinda broad in the beam. How can I tactfully suggest that she get herself back the way she used to be before I succumb to the temptations offered by the woman down the road?—Big Bun Watcher

Dear BBW: Before you speak up to suggest, you got to be sure that you are still the way you used to be, else you got no room to complain. If you do speak up, keep in mind there ain’t no tactful way, so be prepared to duck, move out, buy some lavish presents, or a combination thereof. If your wife don’t run you off, you had best not let your eyes stray beyond your property line if you know what’s good for you.

Dear Ida b. Is there anything new to do in Rock Bottom or is everybody gonna just stand around like usual and bet on what color the stoplight will turn next.—Bored

Dear Bored: You are in luck. O.L. Buzzard, of Buzzard’s Taxidermy, Tanning Salon, and Day Care is branching out into new a new business: Rock Bottom Community Center Extension at Buzzard’s. He is offering a bunch of classes, some of which might appeal to you if you ain’t too picky or are desperate for something to do.

Buzzard says the human form drawing class is now full, since the new instructor Heddy Lamoure also is the model. The “I Want To Be Your Friend” anger management class has had to institute a few rules. For example, Buzzard don't care if you do have a “concealed and carry” permit, he says no hand guns in class unless he is the one carrying. The redneck yoga class (you can wear long camo johns instead of tights and use the bedliner from your pick-up instead of them sissified mats), features new body positions and is also instructed by Heddy. (Buzzard wants to thank Heddy for making this center so profitable after Bunhilder, the prior instructor, left for a new position at the Elsewhere Fitness Salon, location unknown.)

Two other classes sure to be popular are the “Ancient Art of Tattoo” by an ex-basketball star now doing community service and “Greener Vehicles Through Do-It-Yourself Camo Painting,” using easily available spray cans from your local hardware and gun shop. The “Advanced Deer Hunting Techniques,” which the game warden raided, has now been reinstated, after growing crops in certain locations was been found to be good crop rotation and not baiting as the game warden previously said.

Anyhow, Buzzard says to come in and sign up. If you sign up for two or more classes, he will give you a substantial discount on any roadkill you bring in to have stuffed and mounted in exciting actions poses. He regrets that this offer will not apply to skunks for obvious reasons.

Dear Ida B. I heard that a big paper in DC has a “Life Is Short” contest and they pay money for essays about something in your life. Does the Rock Bottom News do that —A Reader

Dear Reader. No, but the Rock Bottom News has a “Life’s Too Short” section wherein they print whatever is on people’s minds as long as it ain’t much and there’s extra space in the paper that needs to be filled. Here’s a couple of them:

“Some items of social gaucherie still make one's ears burn at the awful recollection. When I was in 5th grade, I crashed a birthday party. The class beauty, Lillian, invited everyone but me, and I assumed (fatal word) I was included. So I showed up, not bearing a present, yet was graciously welcomed by her mom. All of a sudden, during a game of Pin-tail-on-the donkey, it hit me, and I slunk out the door without even a goodbye to the hostess. Eeeeyowww! I can feel the shame to this day.”—Claude Hopper

“My philosophy of education is this: Give to each child within your care all the neuroses the child can bear. I find this stimulates their minds so they get twitchy when I approach them. Giving them an eye that radiates a little madness fills them with doubt as to their safety. Just keep the neuroses bubbling, and they’ll march to any tunes you whistle. 'Course, they don’t learn much, but the teacher finds he/she can relax after school better.”— Elmer Glutch (English teacher for 35 years at Beanblossom High in Gnawbone, Indiana)

“Can a person declare his own junk to be junk? Walken D. Rhodes went ballistic when he took a stroll down by Anne Teek’s House of Usable Stuff and spotted his old lawn chairs! Says he tossed them out at the dumpster and they didn’t quite make it in, but he figured his intentions were obvious. When he asked Anne, she declared she acquired the property from Lana DeFill who manages Rock Bottom Re-cycling Systems (Motto: “Your trash is our profit.”). Mr. Rhodes, claiming he’d never relinquished title to his discards, proceeded to rearrange those chairs in the deck of his pick-up and told Anne he was gonna make another stab at sinking them in the dumpster for good. Rumor has it that his pick-up was closely followed by the Rock Bottom Recycling System van as he pulled away from Anne’s shop.”—Mavis Peabody

Well, that’s it for another go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free. However, my new book, More Peevish Advice, is out and you will have to cough up some cash for it. (Thanks to DR, FF, AW, and EW for this week’s inspiration.)


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Celebrities, Working Wives, & Wild Gals

This column originally appeared on May 2, 2007.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in downtown Rock Bottom, US of A, where things are warming up, and men are coming out of their recliners and venturing out. If they’d just remember to wipe their feet before they come back in, their wives would be happier. Now, lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. About couple weeks ago some gal wrote you and said she wanted to be a big celebrity like Paris Hilton. Don’t she know that them celebrities never get a bit of privacy. Everywhere they go, folks is always taking pictures of them. Them popper-ratsies stick their camera right up in celebrity faces (and other places, if you recollect that embarrassing picture of Britney). Why would anybody want to put up with that? Ida B., you are the biggest celebrity in town. Has anything like this ever happened to you? If so, how did you handle it?—Values Her Privacy

Dear VP: This only happened one time. I had just got off the bus after returning from the annual Southern Hair Extravaganza up at the state capital when some out-of-towner looked at my new retro sequined bee-hive hair-do and said, “Nobody back home will believe this! I gotta get a picture!” Well, that feller stuck his little camera-phone only inches from my hair. I grabbed his wrist before he could knock more than a half-dozen sequins off and wrestled that phone away from him. Fortunately I was wearing a mini-skirt which allowed me to raise my stiletto-clad foot to the right height to kick him in a place so he’d remember not to ever mess with me again. While he was doubled over, I was able to put his phone where it deserved to be. I understand it took Dr. Derry Ayers up at the Rock Bottom Institute of Proctology most of the afternoon to remove the phone. I doubt that guy will tell anybody back home about this. Even if he did, I doubt they’d wouldn’t believe him.

Dear Ida B. My wife wants to quit her job and stay home. She says she started working to pay for the kids’ education, but since they all took after me there ain’t no sense wasting money on ’em when the state can educate ’em while they’re incarcerated. I tell her we need her to keep working on account we need the money for groceries, the light bill, insurance, and occasional repairs to the doublewide. She says it ain’t fair that I stay home and she has to go out and work. I’ve tried to explain to her about my jobs—I’m a free-lance hunting/fishing adviser in season, a restorer of junk (I mean antique) cars, and a landscaper when I can borrow my buddy’s bull-dozer and/or chainsaw—and I am often paid in beverages or other compensation instead of actual cash. Also, when I am consulting about fishing with some of the younger women who often wear their bathing suits so they won’t get their good clothes messed up, my wife just wouldn’t understand if she happened to walk in and see me with my arms around the client while I try to show her the right way to hold the pole. (Before we head to Slick Water Lake for the real action, me and the client generally practice in the bedroom of my doublewide where there is a big enough mirror so the client can see her position.) Also, we really need the insurance because I have had several work-related accidents, the latest being when I was chainsawing down a tree to get a clear shot from my deerstand in a neighboring tree when the property owner surprised me causing me to drop the running chainsaw on my foot and get tangled in a barbed wire fence as I tried to get away before he opened fire with his 30-06, which he did anyhow, but luckily he didn’t hit any vital organs although I did need several stitches in various parts of my body. Let me tell you, Ida B., it ain’t cheap if you have visit the emergency room of a Sunday and take pot-luck with whatever doctor is on call. Anyhow, you can see how my wife has got to keep working. At the office where she works, she meets all them Slick Water Lake women whose husbands support them, and it has give her some uppity ideas. What can you offer in the way of advice?—Kinda Hurt by her Attitude

Dear Worthless Sponger: My advice for you is to take some responsibility and get a real job. I advise your wife to see my dee-vorce lawyer, Maycomb Philmore Payne. He can help her more than I can.

Dear Ida B. I been reading about them “Gals Gone Wild” videos and how some feller is making a pile of money on college gals partying real hearty. Wanting to get in on the action, I sold my wife’s car (she’s visiting her sister and won’t be back for two weeks) and bought me one of them cameocorders. I went out to Rock Bottom Community College and Agrarian Science School to see what I could get, and they was all on spring break. Then I went out to Slick Water Lake hoping to catch some gals skinny-dipping, but it was too cold and some gal on a jet ski slung water all over me. Then I took to roaming around Rock Bottom, but the only shots I could get were of fat women doing yardwork, and I don’t think anybody will pay to see that. I’ve heard your manicurist is good for some action. Do you think she’ll let me make her a star?—Lights, Camera, Action!

Dear Ready for Trouble: My manicurist, Honey Sue Sweetwater, says to tell you that if you try to interrupt her while she is giving a customer her undivided attention, you will see more action than you bargained for. The action will include—but not be limited to—her punching your lights out and tossing your camcorder into the bait tank that is currently filled with crawdads, some personal attention from her foot-long nail file that has a real sharp point on the end, and the ridicule of my customers, all of whom will be cheering for Honey Sue. One of them just might be your wife, who planned to sneak back early to surprise you, and she ain’t gonna be happy to learn you sold her car.

Well, that’s it for another go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free. However, my new book, More Peevish Advice ought to be out in about a month and you will have to cough up some cash for it. [UPDATE: It's here!]

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Problems with Some Men

This column originally appeared in the April 18, 2007, edition of the Smith Mountain Eagle.

Howdy, Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop where Spring has sprung, the pollen count is high and everybody is sniffling and sneezing. If you need a new look to complement your red nose, come on down to Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop and we’ll see what we can do. We do have in our extra heavy duty hair spray, so now matter how hard you sneeze, your hair will stay in place. Now, lessee what we got in the mail:

Dear Ida B. My English class is studying MacBeth and I can’t make head nor tails of it again this year. It don’t make much sense and all the characters talk funny. Can you help? —Senior again

Dear Repeater: You are in luck. That is one of my favorite plays because it shows just how important it is for a woman to nag her husband in the proper way. Plus all stupid men are killed off in the end, which is a good lesson for them.

Now, as I recall, the play starts after a bunch of guys won a battle commanded by King Duncan. Back in those days, kings got right into the thick of the action instead of riding around in limos and stuff. One of the heroes was named MacBeth, which is a sissy name, so let’s call him Mac. Him and his buddy Banquo (another stupid name, so let’s call him Bubba) are riding around after a big battle and carrying on like men will do after they win something big, when they come upon three ugly women. Mac and Bubba think the gals are witches because they talk and act funny, but could be the women was just under the influence of something and they looked bad because Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop did not exist at that time. Anyhow, since they aren’t good-looking, Mac and Bubba didn’t fool around with them. They got to talking, and these strange women tell Mac he’ll be Thane of Cawdor, which was a big deal back then, and then he’ll be king. Well, Mac doesn’t quite believe this, but he plays along. They tell Bubba he won’t be any big shot but he’ll beget kings, so at least his boys will be well-fixed and might look after him in his old age. It turns out that King Duncan does let Mac be Thane of Cawdor as a reward for winning (and since the previous thane was conveniently dead).

Now, since Mac is obligated, Duncan decides to spend the night at Mac’s castle rather than have to pay to stay somewhere else. That’s where all the problems start, as many of y’all know who has had unexpected company pop in. Mac’s wife (who doesn’t seem to have a first name) decides that if her hubby kills Duncan, he can jump the line to become king (which means she’ll be queen, another incentive for poor hospitality on her part), so they decide to do that.
Getting Duncan’s guards drunk is the easy part, because they probably didn’t get many perks being bodyguards and would welcome any six-packs handed their way, especially by a real friendly-acting lady. It takes a good bit of nagging on Lady Mac’s part—she was ready to kill Duncan herself if she had to—but she finally gets Mac to stab him. If they had thought about it, poisoning would have left a lot less evidence (like blood all over the place) and would have looked considerably less suspicious. When she tells Mac to screw his courage, she’s really saying, “Stop being such a wimp and kill off the old buzzard!” instead of something off-color.

Anyhow, after Mac stabs Duncan, Mac goes kinda nuts, hearing voices and all, which makes you wonder what he’s under the influence of. He’s so out of it that he can’t even put the blood-covered daggers beside the passed-out guards, so Lady Mac has to do it for him. (Now some of y’all women can identify with this. Your hubby can probably gut a fish just fine, but can he remember to clean up the sink afterwards or throw away the discarded fish parts? No, you got to go clean up after him. What is it with men anyway that they don’t finish what they start?)
Anyhow, the Macs might have got away with what they did if somebody hadn’t started knocking real loud on the front door. The weather was getting bad, so they had to let in the knockers, which turned out to be MacDuff and Lennox, who just happened to be in the neighborhood on such a stormy night and who just happened to want to see their buddy Duncan right now. Mac does his best to act surprised to find Duncan dead and stabs the guards for killing Duncan, which we know they didn’t do. However, this did spare them a bad-hangover the next morning.

Naturally Mac gets to be king and ought to live happily ever after, but some men just can’t accept responsibility, and Mac is one. He goes completely nuts. So does his wife, who sleepwalks all over the castle and finally kills herself, which is a shame because she was the one with good sense. It is also a shame that Dr. Phil didn’t exist in those days because he could have set her straight or at least got her into a good counseling program.

Without a wife to keep him in line, Mac starts killing folks right and left, including Bubba’s kids, but one gets away. Then a whole bunch of other folks get killed, including MacDuff’s family, which really sets MacDuff off. Mac consults the witches again and he thinks they give him good news, but you just can’t trust women who don’t get their hair done on a regular basis.
Anyhow, MacDuff’s buddies disguise themselves as shrubbery and sneak up on Mac’s castle. If Mac’s wife had been alive, she could have pointed out that landscaping don’t change of its own accord, but Mac is so dumb that he don’t realize what is happening. The gals with bad hair told him he wouldn’t be killed by a man born of woman, so—not being clued in to obstetrics (like he would be in he hung around Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop when some of the customers are discussing the grittier points of giving birth)—he figures he is safe. Turns out MacDuff’s mama had a C-section, so she technically didn’t give birth. When Mac hears this, he kinda loses his focus and MacDuff hacks off his head. Since Mac already lost what little good sense he had, losing his head is kind of superfluous. With most of the characters dead, the good thing is that there won’t be a sequel.

One thing you can count on with Shakespeare is that in his tragedies everybody ends up either dead or disappointed, which is kinda the way life is in Rock Bottom. However, if you get your hair done at Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Life Bait Shop, you will be happy about that for a while.

Well, that’s it for another go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.