Best Friends and Billy Clubs

Hello folks, let’s chat… The scientific community has big news. They’ve concluded that the brain stores practically every experience– including the most trivial memories– in something like cold storage, where they can be accessed later. Supposedly, this is why a skilled professional can help a crime witness remember details during hypnosis. If I’m understanding this right, everything’s there if you know how to retrieve it.  

Excuse me while I go all eighth grader, but duh? Selective storage and involuntary recall is the story of my life. I rarely lose my train of thought permanently, but I spend a fair amount of time waiting for it to wander back through. Dear scientists, tell me how to access my brain’s top secret file while it’s bent on spitting out related stories faster than Entertainment Weekly and you’ve done something.

For example, here’s how my brain storage works: When I mentioned crime earlier, my brain skipped to a story about Best Friends and Billy Clubs. And since I do love a good story…

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Several years ago, a friend of mine accompanied me on a book tour. For anonymity’s sake, I shall refer to her as “‘Red”. The two of us were well armed against all potential bad guys, thanks to Papa. He gave me a Billy Club, put mace on my key chain, and placed Wasp spray under my seat– because it shoots further, and off we went.

I remember the moment well. We were traveling a long stretch of practically deserted countryside when Red began thinking aloud. As she stared out the side window, Red began telling me she was convinced she could really hurt someone if they hurt her family.

In detail, my BFF elaborated on how she could tie their hands over their heads to a tree limb and whoop them down to their knees until her strength gave completely out. Yes, really.

When Red finally concluded her violent monologue, she looked my way and found me with mace in my hand and Papa’s Billy Club on my shoulder. Let the record show, this is one story I have zero problem recalling. It’s labeled and filed, right there under self-perseveration.

Valentine’s Day and Cockroaches, Methinks Not

Hello folks, let’s chat… California, our East Coast friends are at it again.  A zoo out there is offering a Valentine’s special, but not to celebrate your Sweet Thang. Oh, no, this special was created to celebrate your recent break-up. You can adopt a giant hissing cockroach or scorpion, name it after your ex, and mail them a picture of their namesake. This is just me, but I wouldn’t do that unless I was absolutely, positively sure you don’t want to get back together.

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As for me, my darling man and I will be celebrating 33 years together! We’ve learned a lot over the years about what makes our relationship work. Granted, Phil’s the private type, so I don’t expect he’ll be sharing his hard-won information with you guys, but never fear ladies, I have a ton of Bubba Communication tips in my book, Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy. Here’s a free one just for you: Give your man a heads-up when you’re about to communicate. Using cue words like “hunting club” or “football” will get his attention and it’s a lot better than raising your voice. That can get either gender in trouble.

For illustration I give you the story of my friend’s Aunt Sarah, Uncle Houston, and their golden anniversary party. The older couple was overcome with emotion at the big shindig as they looked around at all of their family and friends gathered together. So much so, that Uncle Houston turned to Aunt Sarah at one point and said, “Dear Sarah, I want everyone here to know that you’ve been a wonderful wife to me and an excellent mother to our children. For fifty years, you’ve been tried and true!”

Everyone smiled, except for Aunt Sarah who was hard of hearing. “What’d you say, Houston?”

He repeated in a louder voice, “For fifty years you’ve been tried and true!”

Aunt Sarah frowned, “What’s that?”

Uncle Houston got louder. “FOR FIFTY YEARS, YOU’VE BEEN TRIED AND TRUE.”

Aunt Sarah’s face registered shock first, and then offense. “Well, Houston,” she said. “After fifty years, I can get a little tired of you, too!”

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Stay classy~

Hugs,
Shellie

It’s a Party, Kinda

Hello folks, let’s chat… We’re just hours away from Super Bowl 49 and I’m not all that excited this year. (At least not about the match-up– I’m thrilled about the company. Thanks for the invite, Red!) Not having a favorite team has the potential of draining the drama right out of the big game and makes for a not so exciting Super Bowl party. I mean, my Saints didn’t make it and neither did my Manning boys.

Bummer.

On the other hand, I won’t have to peek between my fingers or sweat out a single third down. So, there’s that. In my experience, it’s easy to be impartial when you don’t have a dog in the fight.

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For illustration, I give you an unrelated but unfortunate story from my high school days. All these years later, it’s still hard to talk about it, but the truth is that one sad day I hit a dog with my car.

Accidentally.

In my defense, I was in a curve when the poor thing came out of nowhere and lunged at my tires.

The whole thing was unavoidable.

These are the things I found myself saying moments later to the father of one of my friends. I hadn’t known the family very long at the time, but their house was nearest the scene of the accident so I pulled into their drive in my emotional distress and knocked on their door.

Friend’s Daddy listened as I sobbed out my story. Friend’s Daddy was full of compassion as he patted me on the shoulder. Friend’s Daddy was very concerned about my distraught state– right up to the moment when he asked me what kind of dog it was and I told him it was a big red dog.

“Wait a minute!” Friend’s Daddy, said. “That’s MY dog!”

And just like that, he was anything but impartial. I think it remains one of the fastest times I’ve ever seen a southern gentleman go from “Bless your heart” to “I know you didn’t.”

Hugs, Shellie

Cullen the Angel Boy

Hello folks, let’s chat.. Before we officially file Christmas 2014 away, I feel it’s important for us to gather up any loose stories from the season. Remember, if you don’t capture the funny, it gets away. I can’t let that happen to Cullen the Angel Boy, as seen here with my granddaughter, Carlisle Mae! It simply begs to be told.

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My BFF, is an actress, set designer, director, extraordinaire. Over the years she’s written, produced and starred in skits at our home church that have become the stuff of legends. Christmas 2014 didn’t disappoint, not in the actual production, and not in the rehearsals that led up to it– which brings us to the merry moment I have in mind.

One Sunday morning leading up to the production, my husband and I found ourselves helping the talented Miss Foster teach the 3-4 year olds their own special routine. These wee ones were destined to be angels in the nativity scene. They wore long white gowns with beautiful feathered wings and each of them held a tapered candle in his or her wee hands.

Miss Foster took her place in front of the cherubs so they could practice their routine by mimicking her motions. Cue the music. As Phil and I watched, Miss Foster made a large sweeping motion to the right. The angels followed suit, sort of. Then she made a grand sweeping motion to the left, most of the angels mimicked her, except for Cullen the Angel Boy. That’s when we first noticed the gleam in his eyes. Granted, we never once considered that he was thinking to himself, “I know where I can put this candle.”

For there, directly in front of young Cullen was the backside of Miss Foster and it was all just too tempting. In the twinkle of an eye, Cullen the Angel Boy introduced Miss Foster to that candle and we have video footage to prove it.

For some of us, Christmas 2014 will forever be remembered as the year Cullen the Angel Boy added his own verse to that sweet children’s classic, “This little light of mine. It’s going where the sun don’t shine.”

Who You Calling Fruitcake?

Hello folks, let’s chat…I almost made it through the Christmas season without mentioning the controversial fruitcake. I’ve been resisting the temptation because I didn’t want to fuel the great fruitcake divide. However, a fruitcake funny fell in my lap and y’all know I can’t resist a good story, right?

By the way, the aforementioned divide is no myth. I’ve poked gentle fun at the fruitcake only a few times over the years because the response is always dicey. We anti-fruitcake people underestimate the passion of the pro-fruitcake people. Case in point, someone just paid $7,500 for an old piece of fruitcake from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s April 2011 wedding. That’s four going on five years, but who’s counting? Fruitcake people are curiously proud of the dessert’s shelf life. And now, my story…

I’m married to one of the sweetest people on the planet. Last Sunday Mr. Nice Guy and I were at my parents. I was putting some soup on to simmer for their supper when I heard Papa offer Phil “some of the best fruitcake he’d ever put in his mouth, guaranteed.” This man and I have been together for over three decades. I know he’s not a fruitcake fan, so I couldn’t help but grin when I heard Phil agree to try a slice. And I had to laugh when Papa served Phil a generous slab of fruitcake and added, “Eat all that and I’ll get you a bigger piece.”

Some time later, Phil and I were driving home when I asked him if he’d like to call in something for our own dinner and pick it up on our way through town.

“That’s fine,” Phil said, “but I’d rather get back out for it later, if it’s okay with you.”

I assured him I didn’t mind waiting.

“Good,” Phil said, “I’m not hungry. I had to eat fruitcake.”

And then, almost like an afterthought, Mr. Nice Guy added under his breath, “I don’t like fruitcake.”

That’s my man, y’all, healing the Fruitcake Divide one slice at a time. From Mr. Nice Guy, the Belle of All Things Southern and our immediate family, we hope y’all had a very Merry Christmas and we wish each of you a Blessed New Year~

Hugs,
Shellie

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Standing left to right, daughter-in-law Carey and our son Phillip holding Baby Weston. The two of them are on either side of DeeDee, the lovely young lady they brought into our family during her teen years. My husband Phil is holding their two young belles, (left to right, Emerson Ann and Carlisle Mae.)

Standing right to left, our daughter Jessica with our son-in-law Patrick. I’m holding their two young beaus, (left to right, Grant Thomas and Connor Phillip.)

 

All Things Southern Holiday Travel Advisory and or Alert

Hello folks, let’s chat… Just a few days ago, while some of us were getting ready to slay the Turkey and others were camping out in anticipation of Black Friday, a combination of both Straight Running Crazy and Nekkid News appeared and disappeared on the national radar.

It happened in the Boston airport where the occupant of a ladies’ restroom was surprised by the sudden appearance of a nekkid man who fell through the ceiling and into the stall. Without so much as a “Pardon me, is this seat taken?” Nekkid Man ran out the door and assaulted an elderly fellow before the police could arrive to restrain him.

What with everybody making plans to go to grandma’s house for Christmas, I thought you should know, but let’s all remain calm. There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation, like he was in a hurry to get through security, that sort of thing. Or, he may have been part of a flash mob. What? Oh, okay, never mind that. The thing is, there’s no indication that this is anything more than an isolated incident, but because I have your collective back, I convened a select group of family and friends to come up with a plan should something of this nature happen to you and yours.

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What we have here is the first annual All Things Southern Holiday Travel Advisory and or Alert– and quite possibly the last. In no particular order of helpfulness, here are their suggestions.

Should a Nekkid Person suddenly appear while you are in transit, Mama says you should “Remind him that he is going to catch his death cold.” I don’t know.

Bubba says, well, I can’t tell y’all what Bubba said. Mama would have my hide.

I can give you Paulette’s suggestion. Paulette says, whatever you do, maintain eye contact.

Yeah, you’re welcome. Y’all be safe out there and Merry Christmas!

Hugs, Shellie

I’ve Been Afraid of This

Hello folks, let’s chat…Week in and week out I do my dead level best to try and keep y’all entertained, informed, inspired– and protected. Towards that end, I’m here today with a SRC medical alert.

Longtime listeners will remember that SRC is the acronym I created for Straight Running Crazy, a condition whereby one is no longer detouring from more lucid positions, hence they’ve gone straight running crazy. New listeners can read more about this dangerous condition in my humor books and join our SRC foundation on Facebook. But, I must move on, research has come in to support what I’ve suspected for quite some time. Apparently, stupid really is contagious.

Scientists at John Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska contend that they’ve discovered a virus that makes you stupid. They say it challenges the brain’s thinking functions, affecting spatial awareness and visual processing. And get this, they tested volunteers and found a high percentage of ‘em had the stupid virus lying dormant in their throats.

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I’d love to know how they selected these volunteers and how they broke the news to the poor souls who flunked out. There’s only so much you can do with that good news/bad news trick.

Don’t freak out on me, y’all, but this explains a lot of what we’re seeing on the evening news. Exhibit A, ripped straight from the headlines: A giant solar plant in California that received a government-backed $1.6-billion dollar loan has gone belly up. So, what are they doing? Applying for a government grant — to help pay off their government loan. Somebody’s not covering their mouths when they cough.

Lookahere, I have some hair-dos in the eighties that would suggest I’ve carried this virus a couple of times myself, but that’s beside the perm. I mean the point. We need to raise awareness and fast. Our struggling job market can’t take another hit. If news gets out, this could be yet another blow to work productivity. I can hear it now. “Sorry, boss. I can’t come in today. I’m feeling stupid.”

Are y’all with me? Let us race for the cure.

The Gift that Keeps On Giving

It can be great fun to prank your BFF but there are things you should know.

You could come home from a road trip to find plastic bugs hidden around your house to take years off of your life span because that revenge minded BFF has gained entry to your home. And you may think your dearly beloved Dixie Belle had a doggie accident in your bedroom while you were away when it’s really a mound of disgusting plastic. And you may live on edge in your own home wondering where the next plastic roach and/or spider could be lurking.

Yes, all of these things have recently befallen me, and more.

I ran into my BFF’s mother and she apologized for her daughter’s behavior before asking innocently, “So, did you ever find the bat?”

Bat? We were interrupted by another friend, but I left our unfinished conversation thinking surely she was joking. Surely there wasn’t a bat in my house. Wrong, Shirley. After spending a week on full alert for the little guy, wondering if he was dead, alive, or plastic, I sort of relaxed. Silly me. Days later I reached my bedroom early enough to read instead of falling in bed comatose like that old-fashioned Nestea plunge, only to be startled by a nasty fake bat hiding under my lamp shade.

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Indeed, I had zero problem staying awake to read.

Have I found everything she planted? Who knows? Just yesterday, I discovered Pedro the Panty Python in my lingerie drawer, complete with an introductory name tag tied around his neck. This particular prank seems to be the gift that keeps on giving, and not in a good way.

On the other hand, that very line moves me to a great celebration.

Would you join me in praising the unparalleled present God offered the whole world on an old rugged cross? Far from being hidden or obscured, His only begotten Son was lifted high for all to see.

Jesus rescues us and then He rewards us for simply embracing that redemption. In every single way, He really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Hugs,Shellie

 

Did You Hear About the War on Okry?

Hello folks, let’s chat… I’m exceedingly grateful for law enforcement officials. Today’s visit shouldn’t be construed as me picking on them. This disclaimer feels necessary because of a story I did once that I’m not at liberty to discuss again in any way for whatever reason, so help me game wardens everywhere.

You can however, consider this a follow-up of sorts to last week’s column on the dangers of sniffing cow dung to get high. I’m not sure how the stories tie in exactly, but we’ll just get started and see what happens. It’ll be more fun that way.

That said, our story begins with a man named Dwayne who was recently surprised in the privacy of his Georgia home when heavily armed deputies and a K-9 unit descended on his property. They were aiming to arrest him and destroy his flourishing marijuana crop. The alert officers had identified the illegal plants while flying over his property, only the pot they had spotted was actually okra. Perhaps you weren’t even aware that there was a War on Okry, as many of my people refer to it. This is why you read All Things Southern.

 

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The officers ended up apologizing and all is… kinda well.

Poor Dwayne remains concerned that their very public raid has damaged his reputation in the community. I say, shake it off and work this thing, buddy! The clock’s ticking and you’ve got fifteen minutes of fame here to maximize the publicity over that renegade okra. Gumbo Gone Wild has a great ring and making the best of a bad situation is the southern way after all. It’d practically market itself, but I can help you with slogans. How about “This is your brain on okra”? I know. There’s more where that comes from.

My work’s almost done here and I’m still not sure how to tie this in with cow dung sniffing, other than to warn y’all that I’ve experimented with okra and it’s definitely a gateway drug. Fry it and you’ll be moving on to green tomatoes before you can say, “Is that a cop in the cabbage?”

Hugs, Shellie

My Apologies to Cows Everywhere

Hello folks, let’s chat…The email read, “Dear Shellie, do country people really tip over cows for fun? Heavy, sigh. As head scientist here at All Things Southern, I’ve come to expect such questions to pop up occasionally. Let it be known that I do my best to address them professionally by thoroughly researching the issue instead of firing off an email based on my own experience, meaning I type the subject into google and laugh myself silly first.

While there remains a percentage of people out there with screen names like Beast Boy who insist they’ve personally tipped over countless cows, I’m comfortable with my long held position on this one. Cow tipping is a myth, a bogus adventure much like snipe hunting. I suspect both legends originated with some country soul bent on pranking an unsuspecting city slicker cousin into attempting the impossible.

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That said, my time spent on bovine research earlier wasn’t entirely wasted. I did land on something new and interesting, at least to me. Some folks were commenting that it was old news. I’ll let you decide.

Story has it that glue sniffers have moved on to a popular new thrill. They’re now sniffing cow manure to get high. No, I’m not making this up but I would like to personally apologize to cows everywhere. First we blamed y’all for blowing holes in the ozone. Now this. I may never be able to stop at Chick Fil A again without thinking about this story, and I doubt that fine company will appreciate being mentioned in the same breath should this piece find its way around the Internet, but we’re in this thing now. So, hear me out.

People, this is why mood altering drugs of any size, shape– and smell are so incredibly dangerous. Like the old song said, “Next thing you know you’re just walking around behind the little animals.”

My research didn’t indicate this to be true, but I feel sure I know what the cow says to the sniffer. Are you ready? Are you sure?

“Pull my hoof.”

Sue me. It was just too easy.

Hugs, Shellie

Southern Mamas Opine on the Call Home App

Hello folks, let’s chat…I’m somewhat confused, and a bit concerned over all the new tech toys, particularly those they call “wearables.” For instance, say you’re a self-conscious young girl who’s taller than all the boys in your class, always needing to be reminded to stand tall. And let’s just say — hypothetically, of course– that your Southern Mama is constantly pulling your shoulders back and reminding you to suck your stomach in? Well, help is here, y’all. You can get yourself a custom corset instead, one fitted with sensors and speakers so that every time you slouch it will emit a loud and irritating sound. Some people might say that’s six of one and half a dozen of the other, but I’d never say that cause Mama might be listening and hey– at least you can remove the batteries.

And how about the matching tech bracelets you can share with your loved one? Push a button and it vibrates on the other person’s arm. These could be used for an emergency or simply to tell the other person that you’re thinking of them. Or, if you’re the church pianist you could buzz your girls to quit talking during the service instead of glaring at them– and before their father thumps them on the head with his big old men fingers. Again, hypothetically.

There’s much, much more, but they all raise serious questions our society’s increasing inability to communicate.

I’m thinking of the recent debut of the Call Home App. Have you heard of this?

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It was developed by an irate mother whose kids wouldn’t answer their cell phones. The parent can shut the child’s phone down until they call home for a code to unlock it. Apparently, there’s one exception– they can call their parents or they can call #911.

I’m just saying, I broached this with a group of my girlfriends, all Southern Mamas, and there was a clear consensus. Should it get to the point that they have to shut down their child’s cell phone to get him or her to answer it, #911 would be that child’s best bet.

Everybody Puts Their Drawers on the Same Way

Hello folks, let’s chat… As part of our instruction in the social graces, belles are taught to keep our stomachs sucked in and our noses lowered, (lest we drown when it rains). We’re also encouraged to remember that everybody puts their drawers on the same way, one leg at a time. This because Southern Mamas can’t abide their offspring succumbing to intimidation. Our training serves us well. For illustration I bring you a story from a recent trade show.

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I was delighted to catch up with author friend, Olivia deBelle Byrd. Olivia is a southern humorist like myself. She likes to say if you can’t make a living as a southern humorist with a name like Olivia deBelle Byrd, you aren’t trying. Olivia has recently released a gentle love story set in a bygone era entitled Save My Place. Last weekend she found herself presenting this debut novel on an unlikely panel with two distinguished MBA’s from Harvard and one internationally published college professor– all with resumes long as my arm, all there to present their serious war volumes. In the very middle of them sat Olivia deBelle Byrd, who considers her claim to fame being a proud Kappa Delta oliviafrom Birmingham-Southern.

I was front row center, sending “You go, girl” vibes. It proved necessary.

Olivia may have been trying to figure out how she wandered into battle but knowing how the other soldiers pulled their drawers on helped put steel in her spine. Every time the discussion turned to her, Olivia deftly segued the heavy war talk right back to her own tender tale with grace and wit that charmed the room.

We had supper together that evening, and in the bounce back style that would make any Mama proud, southern or otherwise, it was clear that Olivia deBelle Byrd hadn’t simply survived a tough situation, she was planning to maximize it.

“Just think, Shellie,” Olivia said with a smile. “Now I’ve got myself a war-ah story.”

Pretty sure she gave the word an extra syllable for good measure. Well played, Olivia deBelle Byrd, well played.

Hugs, Shellie