Getting to be November

Well, here ’tis almost November again. November is another of those months left over from the Roman Kingdom, before the Romans kicked the Tarquins out and Rome became a Republic.

The people kicked them out because King Superbus Tarquinus’s son Sixtus Tarquinus decided he wanted a one night stand with a beautiful girl name of Lucretia who didn’t want to be a prince’s one night stand, if you take my drift.

Things sure have changed in the last couple of thousand years. Back then, kings and other politicians made one wrong move and they got rid of the whole kit and kaboodle of them.

They started by kicking them out of the country, but that wasn’t permanent enough. After Superbus tried to retake the throne a few times the Romans shortened him and his supporters a head and planted them. Put a big rock on top of the hole. And you never heard any complaints from Superbus and the other ex-officeholders after that. Not none.

These days, the violent act that got the Tarquins kicked out of Rome is what you see on the tube every night. And nowadays the media looks the other way when some big shot gets caught doing something like that, and they cheer when a big-wig’s kids do things that would make even Sextus Tarquinus blush.

Shoot, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that an explicit version of The Rape of Lucretia is going to be the next spectator event, live from the streets of Washington. D.C.\

And the newspapers will publish reviews and ads for it, as they do for the topless bottomless dancers, the “swingers hotline,” the “hot to trot mature ladies,” the “gay and bi boys and girls,” and the other feelthy ads they run next to the big one that says “The Clarion Ledger – what you want, when you want it.”

But the Romans threw the Tarquins out before the politicians discovered they could use tax money to buy their way to power, and the Caesars started fooling around with the months. You reckon there’s some connection?

Now, speaking of the Romans, I mentioned a while back that the tuba is descended from the old Roman war horn – the one they tuned to give the enemy a blast. Subsonic sound will still loosen an unwary or unprepared fellow’s tripes about as well as a dose of laxative – and it works instantly. But the subaudible noise from the Roman warhorns, the tubas, wasn’t the only trick in the Roman’s bag. No sir, the Romans were pretty sharp operators.

‘Cording to the Old Man, the Romans would march from one battle to the next with all their armor in a leather sack, along with a bunch of rocks and sand. The Roman footslogger had to march along carrying his rations, and TWIRLING that bag

Now, if you have ever had anything to do with sand, you know sand will polish metal like nobody’s business. And the way the boys from Italy did it, their armor was sure to shine like a mirror when they were ready to fight. And the Romans liked to attack in the morning, when the sun was about an hour high.

So when the XVIII legion was about to surprise the enemy, they put their shiny armor on while the enemy loaded up on a big breakfast. Then they would scout out a good way to attack from the west of the enemy, where the early morning sun bouncing off all that shiny metalwork would make the Romans look bigger, more numerous, and a whole lot meaner than they actually were.

Of course, the Romans had a sip of water for breakfast, a pebble under the tongue for thirst, and nothing else, so they had nothing to lose – while the Jews, Dacians, Teutons, Gauls, or whoever the Romans were conquering this week had eaten well and drunk deep.

So when the fat and happy enemy advanced to meet this legion of giants, the Roman tuba men would serenade them with a blast that would loosen them up, so to speak. It was hard to concentrate on sticking a Roman when their guts were griping! So somehow, the word got around that the Romans didn’t fight fair!

But anyhoo, November is the Ninth Month, and the run up to the tenth month, December. That’s one of the reasons November is a month of weddings -and has been since the Etruscans ruled Rome. But that’s not all November is!

It is the end of hurricane season. Which is a good thing, especially if you live where the big winds come every 40 years or so and tear down everything that has been built up since the last hurricane left for the north.

Anyhow, I see Hattiesburg is mulling over a curfew. ‘Minds me of the teen ager, about fifteen, called her mama at four AyeEmm. Mama was walking the floor, owl eyed, full of coffee, and she was a tad short with the gal.

“Don’t get upset, Mom. I’m perfectly safe. I’m in jail.”

“Oh,” says Mom, followed by a short silence. “Enjoy yourself, Dear,” sez Mama, and hangs up.

I notice that all the teens the press asked about the curfew were against it – but none of them went to the Council meeting to oppose it. “Silence grants consent,” as the Italians say.

Speaking of teenagers, one of my friends in the teachin’ profession told me that one of his students was late. He came in spang in the middle of class.

“Coach,” the boy says, “I had to make my own breakfast this morning, so that’s why I’m late.”

“I don’t believe it, and we’ll talk about it later,” says the teacher. “Right now I want to know where the Mexican Border is.”

“That’s the problem, Coach,” the boy says. “I sure wish I knew! My maw ran off with him last night and that’s why I had to make my own breakfast.”

Well, Labor day is past, and all the amateur chefs can go get ready for Thanksgiving. You know, Adam was bound to have been the unhappiest husband who ever lived. He couldn’t throw up what a wonderful cook his mother was to Eve.

‘Course, Eve couldn’t throw up what a wonderful man her first husband was to Adam, either. That did help even things out.

And you know why Solomon was the wisest man in the world?
Solomon was the wisest man in the world because he had so many wives giving him advice!

Anyhoo, about half the politicians are running for president this year. Even though the elections are two years away. Me, I sort of agree with the Old Buzzard who was asked about his politics. The OB said, “I only vote for a man who runs for re-election. When a man runs for re-election, it means he hasn’t been able to lay his hands on it the first time.”

I remember when I was drinking a Coke in the Jackpot and one of the reporters came in and braced her editor. “I have a perfect news story! You’re going to love it!”

“What is this wonderful story, a man bit a dog?”

“Oh, no! This is a lot better than that. A bull threw a Congressman.”

Yep, we turn a goodly portion of the bull throwers out every election, but we haven’t treated them like they do losers down in Mexico. I used to play with a Mexican boy name of Miguel Huerta. Mike’s uncle was into politics, below the border. Mike was really sad about the deal his uncle got.

“Mi tio, my uncle, he run for alcalde, mayor, de Cuidad Victoria, and he was elected. He run for Juge de Estado, State Judge, and he made it. He run for Gobornador de Tamaulipas, and he made it. He run for El Presidente de Mejico, and he don’t make it. So he make a run for the border. He don’t make that neither.”

No sir, we turned a goodly portion of the rascals out, but we haven’t shot any losers yet. Durn it, I sometimes think we ought to at least hang them!!

A lot of politicians are as shallow as their Shakespearean
campaign speeches. You have heard them, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing. They all use the same “reform” speech, “I want housing reform… welfare reform… educational reform… I want agricultural subsidy reform… I want…”

And most of the audience would like to give them chloroform! Giving these vote buyers a lariat necktie and a short drop would be poetic justice.

You know why smart Congresspersons have an aide follow them around with three sharp pencils and a legal pad. That’s so they can remember to forget all the promises they made once they are safely elected.

I been hearing folks up and down the line say that neither the President nor her husband have gotten the message. Well, I ‘spect those folks that say if the prez and her consort don’t get the wax out of their ears the voters will hand out another spanking come November ’16 are perfectly correct.

I was talking to a frisky Young Lady of 83 years, up in Minnesota – and she told me why Michelle didn’t run for President herself. It’s the requirements of the job! A President must be 40 and a good leader – and everybody knows men quit following women when they turn forty!

Reading the news mags, the losers still don’t get it. It’s simple – the politicians didn’t agree with the voters. The voters felt the pols have a sort of bridge character – their honor is weak and they are simple. The reasons for all the defeats weren’t hard to figure out. Like the little boy said…

“My uncle’s a politician.”

“What’s your uncle running for?”

“They looked up his record and he’s running for a plane!”

Now, I’m a liberal, at least I was a liberal until the money men became the predominate influence in liberalism. I guess we must have come full circle, because nowadays “conservatives” talk like Jefferson/Roosevelt liberals, while the “liberals” sound like a cross between Marie Antoinette and Karl Marx.

Listen carefully and you will hear the Nuliberal slogan, “Take everything from those that have anything and give the cake to the poor. Put my address on the rest, but don’t tell anyone.”

In a way, politicians remind me of an old story about the two morons in an school for the mentally shortchanged. This particular school had a lake in front of it. One of the goofs couldn’t swim a lick, t’ other could swim like a fish. The one that couldn’t swim tried to swim across the lake. Naturally, he got just over head deep and sunk, plumb out of sight.

The guy who could swim jumped in, found the other fellow, pulled him back to shore, and hauled him up on the dry. Then he singlehandedly carried him into the school and put him in his dorm room.

The psychiatrist running the place questioned the shortwit, who told him why he rescued the non-swimmer: “The guy is nuts trying to swim across that lake, when he can’t swim a stroke. I can swim and I saved him. He’s a brother human being, that’s wh
y.”

The doc says, “You are a hero and obviously you don’t belong in this school for the mentally handicapped. I’d like to talk more about it to you, tomorrow.”

The swimmer was summoned back to the psychiatrist’s office the next day, and questioned about the rescue. He told the same story, almost word for word.

“Well, I have some sad news,” the doc said. “Your heroism was all in vain. Do you know, after your brought him back in out of the water, he hanged himself?”

“Yeah, Doc, I did it. I hung him up so he could dry!”

Yep, our pol’s do as much bad as they do good. They don’t pay attention to the probable results of the laws they pass. When something causes more trouble than it cures, their remedy is more of the same. Even when they do something right they use a sledgehammer to drive tacks. As Will Rogers said, “Congress is the funniest thing in the world. Every time they make a joke, it’s a law.”

Of course, politicians do have a problem. Sometimes people remind me of the fellow that came to a screeching halt behind Mullendore the banker, while Ten Eyck and Shorty Breck were trying to teach Mullendore to play Sheepshead. The Germans call that game Schatskopf, and you don’t learn it overnight.

This pest kibitzer kept telling Mullendore to play this card or that card. “Play the seven instead of the nine.” The advice worked! Next hand it was “Not the King, play the Jack.” Again the advice worked!

The next hand put Mullendore completely at sea. He couldn’t make head nor tail of his hand. So he turns to the pest and says “Should I play the deuce or the ten?”

“I’m glad you asked me that. I been meaning to ask you something, too. What game are you playing?”

Much of the time, the people don’t know what game the politicians are playing. We let too many politicians get by with talking right and voting wrong. And, like they say, power is habit forming. So is spending money.

Congress has left this country as broke as a pickpocket in a Nudist camp.

Not that you could get a pol to admit that! Sometimes Congress reminds me of that old story about the guy whose sight and hearing were failing him.

Doc looks him over and asks if he drinks. “Not much, just a fifth every day or two,” says the patient.

“Well,” the croaker gasps. “That’s why your eyesight and hearing are failing you. You have to give up alcohol in any form whatsoever.”

A month later the sawbones was at a party and here’s his going blind and deaf patient – stewed to the gills! The croaker came down on the lush like a ton of bricks.

“Didn’t I tell you to give up drinking? Don’t you know that you will become totally blind and utterly deaf if you don’t give up drinking. Why in the world would you give up your eyesight and your hearing just to get drunk?”

“Doc, itsh lige thish,” slurs the drunk. “Whad I been drinkin’ is sho mush bedder dan wat I been sheein’ an ‘earin’ a’ I deshided to shtay drunk.”

Yep, a lot of Congresspersons are so drunk on the power of the office they forget to pay sober attention to the good folks who granted them that power.

I heard that a couple of soon-to-be-unemployed Senators came to Washington in ’70. Their wives had become good friends but every time these two met they quarrelled. Finally, these two lame ducks met in Chicago, in O’Hare airport. Naturally, a row started – and their wives intervened!

“Boys,” the wives said, “this has to stop. You are both in the same party, you are in the same boat, you will both be out of office in January, and you will both be looking for a job. Let’s go to the bar, have a drink, and make peace.”

So they went to the bar, and everybody got a drink. The wives turned to their husbands and said “Now, make a toast to each other.”

One of the lame ducks raised his glass and said, “Here’s wishing for you what you’re wishing for me.”

“Oh, oh, oh, now you’re starting all over again,” yelled the other.

I used to know a long tall drink of water, name of Willie. Willie and I used to put on boxing gloves and have at it. Willie became headwaiter in a fancy Tulsa cafe. Willie told me that they had a big banquet one night for a presidential candidate. Boy, was this loser putting on the dog!

“Waiter,” he says to Willie, “Make sure the caviar is imported, because I can’t tell the difference.”

A lot of pol’s were kicked out because they couldn’t tell the difference. They knew where the power and the money was, though.

Willie got to be headwaiter because he tickled his boss. A Congressman from Tulsa came in at the height of a big rush. All Willie’s tables were full, so the pol was seated at another waiters table. After Willie toted three, four orders past him, the Congressman hollered, “Do you know who I am?” at Willie.

“No, Sir, but I’ll ask around and if I find out I’ll come back and tell you,” says Willie, straight face. Tickled his boss, plumb, but it didn’t strike the little pistol with the big bang as being funny, for some reason.

Yep, a lot of folks voted Republican. Looks like some of them thought their dog would leave home if they voted for a Democrat.

You know, a lot of the defeated politicians are in the same boat as Wyatt Cochran was. Wyatt worked in Joe Nichols’ sawmill for 25 years. Joe got tired of seeing Wyatt out behind the stacks taking a smoke, or Wyatt on top of the stacks taking a nap, or Wyatt out in the parking lot working on his car, and Joe was really tired of keeping his legs crossed at the backhouse waiting for Wyatt to come out, so Joe fired him! Wyatt took it pretty calmly, at that.

“Mr. Nichols” he says, “I been here twenty six years next month, and if you are going to fire me at least give me a good letter of recommendation.”
“I guess I do owe you that much, Cochran,” says Nichols. ”
Charlotte, write Wyatt a letter of recommendation. Put it: `To Whom it May Concern: Wyatt Cochran worked for me for 25 years. When he left I was perfectly satisfied.’

You can bet the voters will be perfectly satisfied when the losers leave office. They just aren’t leaving until January! They are draggin’ their feet!! Hadn’t thought of Sawmill Joe in years. Joe was a widower. His first wife was struck by lightning in ’29, and his second wife died just after Pearl Harbor. Everybody had Joe pegged for Salisaw’s perpetual most eligible bachelor.

It surprised everyone when he started dating a girl name of Eunice from Fort Smith. Jack Sharpe said he was sitting in the Rexall in Muldrow and Joe and the Fort Smith gal were in a booth, behind him, where he could hear every word.

“I seem to be very popular with the men, Joe. Tell me, is it my eyes or my figure?”

“No, neither one of those, Eunice.” says Joe.

“Is it my hair, or my complexion?

“Neither of those either, Eunice.”

“Then it’s my personality?”

“No, it’s not your personality either.”

“Well, I give up!” says Eunice.

“That’s the reason!” Joe says.

Like they say, “A dame is as strong as her weakest wink.” Joe dated Eunice for about a month. Before anybody knew Joe and Eunice weren’t a regular thing, Joe put the word out the mill would be closed for a week. “Soft market, lack of demand” he said. “Going to buy some machinery,” he said.

Then Joe and his secretary, Charlotte Curtis, went on a buying trip to Memphis. When they came back she was Charlotte Nichols. “Nothing like a little competition to make a woman decide,” he said. I always figured the thought of having to find a new secretary was even more decisive!

Anyhow, Joe was a sentimental bloke, when it didn’t get in the way of business. When Joe married his second wife he brought her home and told her: “You can change this house anyway you please. Throw everything out, paint it, and take the truck to Tulsa or the Fort and buy all new, if you want to. But my first wife’s hat is on the closet shelf. Whatever you do, please don’t disturb it.”

When he brought Charlotte home he made the same speech. “Do anything to the house you want to do, but my first two wives favorite hats are on the closet shelf. Whatever you do to the house, please don’t disturb them.”

“I won’t touch them, Joe, but I will tell you one thing. The next hat that goes up there will be a John B. Stetson with Joe Nichols written on the band.”

Anyhow, Joe Nichols was one of six brothers. And one sister. It works out that way sometimes. A woman decides she is not going to have a girl, and bingo, last time is a charm.

Joe’s mama was full blood Osage – but six of the kids looked more Scots than anything. ‘Fact, only two of the Nichols kids were anything but tall, rawboned, with sandy red hair and blue eyes. Sister was shorter and rounder. ‘Fact, Sister was built like a brick biffy. Dolly Parton type! Anyhoo…

Talking about this-n-that reminds me that the odd one of Joe Nichols’ brothers was a pretty tough kid. He had dark hair, black eyes, and a real swarthy complexion, so of course they called him “Blondy.” Blondy had the rep of being a real cool character, never got excited in a pinch, always ready to help a fellow in trouble, but maybeso a tad short up top.

Blondie was a genuine Nuliberal Democrat about property rights, too. Blondy figured what was yours might as well be his, and he didn’t bother to ask you if that was agreeable with you before he took it! One time Blondy tracked down Pretty Boy Floyd. He wanted to join the gang, you know.

Pretty Boy knew of Blondy, but he wasn’t quite sure whether Blondy was working for the cops or not. Pretty Boy gave Blondy nothing but a stall while he checked Blondy out. After the inquirys came back clean Pretty Boy began to question Blondy about what he had done.

“Well, you know the First National in McAlester was robbed. I done that job,” says Blondy. “And you know the Garvin County Bank, in Pauls Valley. I got two thousand out of that bank.”

“Well, that sounds all right. I’ll tell you what. There’s a fat bank up at Stilwell, and we’re planning a withdrawal. You got any reason why you wouldn’t hold up a bank that close to home?” asks Pretty Boy.

“Oh, no, we couldn’t rob the Cattlemens Bank,” gasps Blondy. “That’s where I keep my money!”

Blondy was under suspicion, and the law just missed catching him several times. After Pretty Boy went out of circulation he slipped off to Tulsa and caught a boxcar going to San Diego. They say Blondy joined the Army there.

I know he was captured when Corregidor fell. Blondy was tough, the Japs and dysentary were tougher. I did hear a story that Blondy was helping another prisoner and the Japs killed him for his trouble. Bataan death march.

You know, I heard Joe Nichols tell a joke one time. He said his cousin was a good housekeeper and a fine Christian woman, but she was terribly, terribly ugly. Besides being beat with a double ugly stick, she was plump. Had a couple of double chins. What you might call ripples in the ocean. Every time she talked she broadcast over short waves!

Her father had an awful time getting her married off. She was 21 before she married, getting well into spinsterhood, you know. Anyhow, a neighbor heard that the gal had finally gotten married, so he goes by the place to congratulate t’ father of the bride.

“I hear your homely daughter finally got married. Who’d she marry, anyway?”

“Sister married a doctor,” said Mr. Nichols.

“A doctor! Why most women would give everything they have to marry a doctor! How lucky you are that your terribly homely daughter married a doctor!”

“Well, he ain’t exactly a doctor, he’s a bank cashier” said Mr. Nichols, “but, oh, did he ever take away a pain in my neck!”

Speaking of bankers, you hear the one about the shoe shine boy that offered to shine a bank president’s shoes.

“Shine your shoes, mister?” says the boy.

“No!” says the banker.

“Shine ’em so you can see your face in ’em, mister.”

“No”

“Coward!” sez the boy.

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