ANNUAL WRITING CONTEST
The Southern Humorists had us a writin' contest. Everybody who wuz
a member was invited to send in their very best articles and we even
had a real prize-winning judge that works fer a newspaper to do the
judgin' so there would not be any cheatin' or bribin' going on
(knowing our bunch). A few still tired to attach sacks of boiled
peanuts and slabs of barbecue to their entry, and had to be
disqualified. The moderator said the food was real good though. We
had $2.37 left over from the entry fees after paying fer prizes and
sech, so we won't get to have a catfish fry this time around. But we
are still real proud of our winners and if we had another 63 cents,
we would buy them each something real nice from the Dollar Store.
Keep a Man from Fishing
By Brenda C.Birmelin
It poured rain for three days and I was stuck in the house with my
retired husband whose only hobby is fishing. This was a lot worse
than being stuck in the house with grandkids. After all, I could
always take them to a fast food restaurant with an indoor
I was desperate. I needed a plan other than homicide or suicide.
“Why don’t you go to the grocery store, dear?” I asked. “We
only need about six things. I’m sure you can handle that.”
He jumped at the chance. He was as desperate as I was. He grabbed
his cell phone, the grocery list and the dog. The fishing dog at our
house goes everywhere the fisherman goes.
As soon as the door closed, I grabbed the remote and changed the
channel. Then I poured myself a cup of coffee and grabbed the
cookies I kept hidden for a special occasion. Getting the fisherman
out of the house after three days was an occasion worthy of
celebrating with cookies.
I propped my feet up and enjoyed the serenity a small retirement
house has when the master and the dog are gone. Not for long,
The phone rang. It was my husband, “What does auto. dw. det.
mean?” he asked.
“Automatic dishwashing detergent,” I replied.
“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “I know just where to find
that.” He hung up.
I grabbed a cookie and before I could get the first crumb in my
mouth, the phone rang again. "What’s t.p. mean?”
“Toilet paper,” I said.
“Oh, good,” he said. “I remember which aisle that’s on,”
By the time I finished eating three cookies, the phone rang again. A
confident man was on the other end. “It took three shoppers and an
assistant manager, but I found the pimentos,” he boasted. I’m
going for the bread right now.
Enough time lapsed for me to finish my mug of coffee before the
phone rang again. “I’ve got the manager, the assistant manager,
the deli manager and two customers helping me. We’re looking for
the feta cheese. As soon as we find that, I’ll be right home.
“Don’t rush dear, it’s raining, you know.” I hung up the
phone, put the cookies away and dumped my coffee mug into the sink.
I had work to do. The weatherman was predicting rain for tomorrow.
I grabbed pen and paper. I started the list: Portobello mushrooms,
chutney, almond soap, free range eggs and kale.
Now, that should give me time tomorrow to finish up the cookies.
Brenda is a native Tar Heel and a card-carrying member of the
UDC. She has written humor pieces for a local tourist publication
including one called, You Might Be a Coaster If... Brenda was
involved in a partnership-published book called, If Laughter's the
Best Medicine, I Can't Be Sick. She also has been published in
Women's Glibber and The Best Contemporary Women's Humor.
By Newt Harlan
"Fixin' things”-- That’s the art of making repairs with
limited tools and supplies, for those of you who don't talk
The other day down at the waterin’ hole I was remembering my
younger days, back in the 50s and 60s, when just about anything that
broke was repaired with balin' wire or barbed wire and a cowhand was
judged as much for his ability with wire pliers as his ability to
ride, rope or do other cowboy things. We used wire to mend broken
handles on shovels and posthole diggers, to patch broken saddle
leathers and girths. Wire tied up tail pipes and mufflers that got
drug off our trucks crossing ditches and logs. It replaced broken
throttle or choke cables and tied tail gates, trailer gates and
chute gates open or closed. I bet we found more than a thousand uses
for baling wire and barbed wire in addition to its intended use. A
hand good with wire could fix anything except the crack of dawn and
a broken heart and he'd make a pretty good run at fixin' the broken
The gang listened respectfully while I bragged about everything we
did with wire and when I finally shut up long enough take a drink,
somebody asked if I'd ever heard of duct tape. I allowed as how I
had, but had to admit that I hadn't given much thought to the ways
it was put to use fixin' things.
Hogjaw said, hell’s bells, just think of duct tape as high tech
balin' wire. He went on to say that duct tape had been used in the
space program for fixin' things for as long as there had been a
space program…He recalled how duct tape was the main thing besides
the astronauts’ ingenuity that allowed that crippled moon mission
to return safely to earth when they used it to rig up a CO2
converter from the moon lander so that it would function in their
This got everyone around the table to thinking of ways they'd used
duct tape to fix stuff. Muzzy used it to tape the rear view mirror
to the handlebars and to fix a broken reflector on his bike. Bubba
taped up a leak in the muffler on his truck, which fixed it good
enough to pass the state inspection and there were several folks who
had temporarily fixed broken truck windows with duct tape and
plastic garbage bags.
John Paul used it to mate a “flapping” sole to the uppers on his
work boot and managed to walk around on the repair job for almost
three more months before he finally had to buy a new pair. Joe Tom
said when his jeans were too long and the over length part kept on
fraying, he stopped it with duct tape around them. He said that he
also had used it to patch his jeans when he busted the rear end out
of 'em throwing a calf at the rodeo. Mary Agnes chimed it, saying
she had used duct tape to stop runs in her panty hose.
Several of the group allowed that they got extra mileage out of
their socks and drawers by patching holes and rips with duct
tape--nobody sees 'em anyway. Dogeye’s grandpa used duct tape all
the time to fix his eyeglasses when they broke, but finally he had
to get new ones when it got to where all he could see was duct tape.
The barmaid, Little Britches had the most unusual use, at least it
was unusual to us. She said that whenever she wears a strapless or
low cut gown or fancy dress and she doesn't want to wear a bra and
have to worry about straps showing, she uses duct tape for lift and
separation. I'm not sure we were quite ready for that much
information and it pretty much made tips about patching holes in
boats and gas tanks, even in emergency situations, seem
I know one thing for sure, whatever lift and separation means, you
sure as hell can't do it with barb wire or balin’ wire.
Newt Harlan has a B.S. From Sam Houston University in
Huntsville, Texas. After working as a bartender, locomotive fireman,
oilfield roughneck, spending 4 years in the U.S.A.F. during the
Vietnam era and 35 years as an itinerant steel salesman, he is now
semi-retired, dabbling in steel sales, and writing. His fiction has
appeared in USA Deep South, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal and
DeadMule.Com. among others.
You Say Tomato, I Say "Mater"
By Ike Martin
I once worked for a Yankee who had lived in the South for 30 years
and still criticized it constantly. When he found out I was Catholic
— as he was — he told me, “But I’m a <<Yankee>>
Catholic," as if there were such a thing as “Rebel
Catholics.” Well, actually there are, but they’re called
To my boss, nothing in the South was as good as it was in his
hometown, Bah-stun. This guy was the poster boy for what we
Southerners affectionately call a “damn Yankee” — bless his
There was the time he flew into Memphis to spend the week working my
accounts with me. While driving down I-55 to Jackson, we passed a
sign, and I said, “That reminds me, on the way back, we need to
stop in Grenada to see an account.” My boss asked, “How did you
pronounce that?” I said, “Gruh-NAY-duh.” He laughed. “You
hillbillies! It’s <<Gray-NOD-duh>>, like the car.”
Well, to my way of thinking, he had just demonstrated he wasn't the
brightest bulb in the chandelier. We had driven approximately 100
miles through the Mississippi Delta. Hillbillies? There are no hills
in the Delta! This is where area carpenters come to make sure their
levels are working.
We argued for three days about the proper pronunciation of the town.
As we headed back to Memphis, I decided to prove that we Southerners
were good pronouncers. I said, “I’ll tell you what, let's pull
off the interstate at Gruh-NAY-duh and ask someone to pronounce the
town's name." I whipped into the first place I saw, the Red
Monkey Liquor Store. An old man was rocking in a chair outside the
door, so I rolled my window down. “Sir, would you tell me where we
are? And pronounce it very slowly so there's no chance for
misunderstanding.” The old man looked at us for a long minute,
then answered, “R-e-d M-o-n-k-e-y.”
After that trip, we became more tolerant of each other’s culture
— and lack thereof. But it was a trip to a national sales meeting
in Atlanta that led to our most memorable encounter with the
idiosyncrasies of the South. After the meetings one day, my boss
invited me to have a drink. We drove to place named after a very
famous Formula One driver, Taz Fortunato.
When we entered, we saw that it was not only a bar/restaurant, but
also a state-of-the-art game center with an indoor go-cart track. We
were sitting at the bar discussing the place with the bartender when
two young guys sat down and asked the bartender if he could make a
Flaming Moe. The bartender proceeded to mix this weird concoction
that included cough syrup, and it was, indeed, flaming. The two guys
looked at their bonfires and began to chug. "No, put them out
first!" the bartender yelled, but it was too late. The two
nouveau Flaming Moers stood there dumbfounded, patting their crimson
cheeks before running to the men’s room.
The bartender shook his head, explaining that the Flaming Moe was a
Homer Simpson creation, currently one of the hottest drinks in
America. My boss laughed. “Southerners should never watch
something as intelligent as <<The Simpsons>>!”
Then the bartender told us that if we really wanted to really see
"some Southern," we should go upstairs. We grabbed our
drinks and climbed the stairs to another bar. This one was encircled
in glass with a panoramic view of an indoor Grand Prix–style
Out on the track was a line of good ol' boys waiting their turn to
hop into a Formula One–style go-cart and pretend to be Mario or
Danica — a Mario or Danica who had consumed about eight beers
chased with a couple of Jåger bombs.
All nine go-carts were filled with Formula One wannabes. Most of the
drivers had some “response issues,” a particular challenge on
hairpin turns. Half of the drivers went into tailspins through the
curves; the other half tried in vain to circumvent the
Add to this scene one fellow who had obviously confused Formula One
racing with bumper cars. The racing term for giving an adversary a
slight nudge is called “swapping paint.” Well, this guy was
swapping fenders. He rear-ended, banged into, and sideswiped most of
the cars. He then brought everything to a screeching halt when he
barreled broadside into a confused driver who was trying to
disengage his cart from a hay bale. The attendant quickly introduced
the red flag to this madhouse, while track personnel ran to the
melee. "Crash," the bumper car driver, was escorted from
As Crash got closer, I turned to my boss and said, “Hey! Isn't
that your Northeast rep, Seeley from Bah-stun?"
My boss sat in silence for a moment, then quickly recovered.
“Yeah, that's Seeley. But he’s from <<South>>
Ike Martin is a freelance writer living in the Memphis area.