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.