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.