Rain Drops In My Snailing Floof
I had a couple of great ideas for a Sunday column this week but unfortunately forgot them.
Actually, that's not true. I had ONE great Sunday column idea but it just didn't go anywhere, so I ditched it.
Welcome to the world of the lonely Sunday columnist.
Great column ideas come and go like Tootsie Rolls at a pee wee football game. Thus a Sunday columnist must be ruthless and ever-vigilant in choosing his subject matter in order to keep his readers fully informed, deeply engaged, and at least somewhat awake.
The great column idea I ditched, if you must know, was about rain. As you have probably noticed from the mold growing in your ears, it's been raining a lot lately this summer in the Sandhills. So rain is a very timely subject. The reservoir is brimming, people are sloshing about, and some are even carping about having too much of the stuff.
I'm not one of them. Rain makes me happy.
"Given the Biblical drought out West," I was inspired to write, "I probably should feel guilty for enjoying a lovely cool and rainy summer in Seattle."
Isn't that witty? Sadly, I thought so at first, such a clever and engaging lead whereupon I, the lonely Sunday columnist, would proceed to tell you in simple and timeless language why rain is such a soulful antidote to a long hot summer of boring politicians and bad news.
I would quote wise sages and NASA scientists to mount my case, pointing out that water from heaven is the perfect metaphor for healing a troubled planet, prompting you to delay going out to brunch with a pal or sleeping through church service just to read about my silly love ode of a long rainy day.
Playing Golf in the Rain
But seriously, why should you give a dried fig whether I feel guilty about enjoying the rain? Or for that matter, Seattle. You probably hate all this rain, truth be told, and not just because of your swollen knee joints and the mold growing in your ears. You might find the very idea of rainy Seattle downright depressing.
Maybe all this rain means you can't work on your suntan or it prevents you from playing croquet with your spouse's new boss or getting out in the garden the way you like to do with summer on the wane.
Me, since you failed to ask - I love playing golf in the rain, the rainier the better, with or without my boss. This may be perfectly irrelevant to the discussion at hand but I've played golf in the rain all over Britain and Ireland and almost always had one fine time doing it. Typically after a round in the rain I fancy a couple of nice pints of warm Irish stout in the gents' bar and a friendly chinwag with a local whose accent is so thick I can barely understand him.
Here's a typical brief exchange, based on an actual conversation that may or may not have taken place on a rainy day in Ireland some years ago, before I gave up drinking so much stout.
"So, mate, wot yew make of Snailing Floof?"
"I'm sorry. Your snailing what?"
"Yer drink, Shirley! The way yer dumpin' that bloody stuff down the little red lane, you moost tink it's holy water!"
But ask yourself, is an unintelligible conversation on Snailing Floof with a friendly Irishman you can't understand a reasonable use of a lonely Sunday columnist's precious time and talent, not to mention yours?
To be perfectly ruthless about it, I think not. Got much better things to do - a garden to get raked out before the sky opens up again, or a Labor Day weekend to plan that most assur-edly will get rained out.
An American Original
So let's move on to something a little more timely and deeply engaging.
Like Phyllis Diller jokes.
As you may or may not have heard, comic Phyllis Diller passed away this past week. She was 95 and still doing stand-up comedy until very recently.
As the sweet irony of life would have it, I heard about her death while playing golf in the rain with a friend down in South Carolina, where mold is also growing like crazy in people's ears.
"Hey, did you hear Phyllis Diller died?' this friend casually mentioned as we were eyeballing a menacing black sky that looked as it might zap us to Kingdom Come at any moment. The downside of playing golf in the rain is that you can get killed by a bolt of lighting faster than you can say "Make mine a Snailing Floof." The upside is you'll probably hardly notice what hits you.
So there we were, huddled under a halfway house roof, drinking Guinness like a couple of Irishmen watching the sky open up when I admitted to my friend that I grew up watching Phyllis Diller on TV and thought she was the funniest person I'd ever heard.
I loved her one-liners, crazy hair and the way she howled at her own jokes, especially her jokes about Fang, her lazy, lame-brained, lay-about, no-good drunken husband.
"My husband, Fang, is so dumb, honey, one of our kids asked him how to spell Mississippi and he said, 'Which one, the river or the state?'"
I always loved that joke. I'm still not certain how to spell Mississippi.
Phyllis Diller was an American original and a social pioneer - a mother of five who at 37 turned to stand-up comedy to feed her family in a world dominated by males making fun of their spaced-out wives. She adopted ridiculous shapeless frocks and waved a gaudy cigarette holder - mocking the glamour of cheesy movie stars - with hairdos that looked as if she'd put her tongue in an electrical socket.
In fact she was a gourmet cook, intellectual, classically trained pianist and a beautiful woman with an encyclopedic knowledge of art, especially the art of making people laugh at themselves without realizing it. She bombed her audiences with rapid-fire jokes and made fun of everything from her multiple face-lifts to her own children.
"My face has been picked up more times than Bill Clinton's pants."
"They say housework can't kill you. But why take the chance?"
"Photos don't do me justice. They look like me."
"Robert Redford once asked me out. I was in his room."
"Every child threatens to run away from home. This is what keeps parents going."
According to news reports, Diller's son found his mother in bed Monday morning, having passed away "with a smile on her lips."
"A smile," she once said, "is a curve that sets everything straight."
One can only imagine what she would make of all the mold in your ears or a nice warm glass of Snailing Floof. I'm grateful to her for the laughs and for saving this lonely Sunday columnist from having to write about rain.
Award-winning author Jim Dodson, Sunday essayist with The Pilot and editor of PineStraw magazine, can be reached at jim@the pilot.com.
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