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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