Al B of Hartland reports: “Pogo said: ‘From here on down it’s uphill all the way.’
“That’s how I felt after getting the hiccups.
“I had the hiccups for nearly 18 hours. It was no record, and it was no fun. I was plumb tuckered. My poor mind was addled sadly. I consulted a doctor. I tried all the usual cures: holding my breath, drinking a glass of water quickly, pulling on my tongue, biting on a lemon, gargling with water, taking a spoonful of sugar, saying ‘Pineapple,’ taking a teaspoonful of vinegar, a big spoonful of peanut butter, putting a teaspoon of honey stirred in warm water on the back of my tongue before swallowing it, breathing deeply into a paper bag, placing a paper towel over the top of a glass of water and drinking through the towel, drinking from the wrong side of the glass and wishing them away.
“I looked up the Guinness record for the longest attack of hiccups. Charles Osborne (1894-1991) of Anthon, Iowa, started hiccupping in 1922 while attempting to weigh a hog before slaughtering it. He was unable to find a cure and continued hiccupping until 1990, a total of 68 years.
“I will never weigh another hog.”
Life as we know it
Empty or Full Division (responsorial) (responsorial)
Doris Day: “Subject: Be careful what you wish for?
“One of Deb K’s bucket-list wishes is to weigh her driver’s-license weight, which brought to mind an episode of my sister’s dark humor.
“When she was in the final stages of pancreatic cancer, she remarked to her oncologist that she knew when she was going to die. We watched as the good doc went from surprised to puzzled to bemused (he was on to her wily ways by this time) and paused, waiting for her to continue.
“Her response? ‘The day I finally get to my driver’s-license weight!’
“She and I laughed so hard, we cried. Cuz, you know.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Yes, alas, we do.
Till death us do part
An entry in the Permanent Spousal Record maintained by Vertically Challenged:”Subject: “The permanent husbandly record.
“Gpanottakr, who is notorious for his note writing around here, often likes to intentionally misspell words. I opened the refrigerator to find this note left for our son, who was to be house/dog sitting for a couple days, and was letting him know there were makings for tacos in there:
BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: You and your husband aren’t from the Iron Range, by any chance? Up there, of course, they’re very much interested in taco-note detailings.
Helena Handbasket: “My community service for today: There is a diaper-wearing monkey in the gallery at a professional golf tournament. You’re welcome.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Where Bill Murray goes (in his farmer overalls), diaper-wearing monkeys are sure to follow.
Close, but no . . . (responsorial)
Or: Practically perfect
Ms. S. of St. Paul: “About two weeks ago, you published a story by a man who had crawled under a mailbox, possibly the one where the Winter Carnival Medallion was hidden, when he was a 7-year-old boy. His name is the same as someone that I went to high school with. That would be Wayne A. N. Wayne was wicked-smart, he was on the top debate team, he was on the hockey team (which was a very big deal at Johnson High School in those days), and, best of all, was a really nice guy. I had a bit of a crush on him. Wayne ALWAYS carried a briefcase. I never saw anyone else at school with a briefcase, but he was never without his.
“Let me add a little background here. My story occurred back in 1965. At that time, the cellphone did not exist. Your phone was either fastened to the wall in your kitchen, or it was a desk model. For those of you Younger Than Dirt, the desk model had two parts: the base, which was fairly heavy and contained the dial, the ringer and the wiring. The receiver was attached to the base by a cord. The receiver was fairly large, with one part held next to your ear and the bottom end near your mouth. The whole thing was plugged into a phone jack in the wall.
“One afternoon, we were in debate class. The teacher was addressing us from the front of the room when we were startled by a loud ringing sound. As the teacher and the rest of us looked around, Wayne reached into his briefcase and lifted out a phone. He answered it and, as we all stared with our mouths open, he chatted briefly with the caller. ‘Oh, hello. Yes. I see. Yes, I will.’ We were entranced.
“Wayne then held out the receiver to the kid across the aisle and said: ‘Here, Jeff, it’s for you.’ Jeff collapsed with laughter, as did the rest of us.
“Once order was restored, Wayne said that he had found this old phone and wanted to have some fun with it. An alarm clock had provided the ring. Whenever I hear about students today using their phones in class, I think of that day. Good one, Wayne!”
Our livestock, ourselves
And: Practically perfect — leading to: Life (and death) as we know it
The Old Hand of Oakdale: “Most Christmas gag gifts are forgotten by New Year’s. Some, however, last a lot longer. My Great-uncle Elmer and his old friend, Gene, kept one going for years.
“A couple acquaintances of Elmer wanted to give their children a pet, and they settled upon a cute little billy-goat kid. The problem was that the kid outgrew his cuteness very quickly. He became a real problem for the parents and the children, who wouldn’t even go outside unless the goat was tied up.
“Since nobody answered their ad offering a free goat, they did the only thing they could think of to get rid of the animal: They took it out to Elmer’s farm and gave it to him, knowing well he was too nice to refuse it.
“I imagine that the goat had been given a name by its former owners, but Uncle Elmer named it Goat. He never was too imaginative about his names. He had a border collie that was the best cattle dog I ever saw. Elmer called the dog Dog. He had several horses with the same name, Horse. He had about 20 cows with the name Cow, except for the one he called Bull.
“His first child was a boy and was given a normal name, which not too many people remembered over the years. Elmer nicknamed his son Boy the first time he saw him, and the name stuck all the rest of Boy’s life. As their family grew, Aunt Amanda laid down the law: no more of those silly names — and the other kids grew up being called by their given names. But since Amanda never cared what he called his animals, Elmer gave them names he thought were appropriate.
“Elmer got a lot of teasing about being such a softy and taking Goat. He just laughed and defended his action by saying: ‘You can’t look a gift goat in the mouth’ — although there were many times he wished he had. That animal was foul-smelling, obnoxious, mischievous, contrary, mean, ornery, and the list went on and on. In fact, if you look up some of the aforementioned words in the dictionary, you would probably see a picture of Elmer’s goat.
“The one thing nobody ever did twice was turn his back on Goat. It was as if the critter saw the seat of a person’s pants as one big target. Ram! Bam! And after he played his little joke on the poor sap, you could swear there was a smile on Goat’s face.
“Of course, Goat never tried anything with Elmer. One big reason was Dog. Not only was Dog a great cattle herder, he was also a darn good goat trainer. Dog could actually make Goat behave. But if, by chance, some poor unsuspecting man turned his back on Goat, Dog was known to look the other way. Dog would never allow Goat to accost a woman or a child, though, and Goat never tried to after Dog nipped him a few times for even thinking about it.
“Gene, one of Elmer’s best friends, had a farm a couple miles down the road from Elmer’s. The two had a lot in common, especially their love of teasing each other and practical jokes.
“‘Hey, if you want to get Elmer’s goat, just ask him about his Goat,’ Gene loved to tell anybody who was around him and Elmer. Or when Elmer would stop in at the VFW for a euchre game, and Gene was there already, Gene would holler; ‘Hurry up and close the door. Must be a goat outside. I sure can smell it.’
“Elmer always had some good comeback. I always liked the one Elmer told about when Gene heard drinking goat’s milk was good for arthritis, and Gene was all set on buying Goat from Elmer — until some loudmouth reminded Gene that Goat was a billy, not a nanny. ‘Yup,’ Elmer would laugh, ‘I’d a-paid money to see the first time Gene tried to milk it.’
“It was the second Christmas of Elmer’s having the goat that Gene came home from Midnight Mass and saw lights on in the barn and his pack of dogs barking up a storm at the barn door. When he opened the door, there was Goat in the box stall with the team of horses. Goat was helping himself to the hay, and the two horses were standing as far away from the intruder as possible.
“Around Goat’s neck was a large red ribbon and bow. It didn’t take much to figure out who the Santa was that left the present. Thinking back, Gene should have figured something was up when he didn’t see Elmer at Midnight Mass. Elmer always went to Christmas Midnight Mass.
“Like Elmer, Gene never looked a gift goat in the mouth and accepted it with a laugh. But Gene never called the goat Goat. He renamed it Elmer. If Elmer the goat had any ideas that life would be easier without Dog around, he was wrong. While Gene didn’t have a dog like Dog (actually, nobody did), Gene had a pack of dogs that managed to keep the goat in line.
“And then came the next Christmas, and there was no Gene at Midnight Mass. Elmer wasn’t at all surprised to open the barn door and see Goat, a.k.a. Elmer, standing there with the big red ribbon and bow around its neck. Dog jumped around and actually licked Goat’s face. Elmer laughed and commented later that at least Dog was happy to have Goat back.
“This ritual went on and on. Whoever the recipient was to be made sure he went to Midnight Mass, to make it easier on the giver. It was amicable joint custody. The red ribbon and bow was an important part of the gift, so it was always kept in a safe place. They couldn’t just hang in the barn, for fear the goat might eat it.
“The goat — Goat or Elmer, depending on which farm he was spending the year — matured, thanks to age and the training of Dog and Gene’s pack of mutts. It got so it was actually a pet. The two men found a pony harness and cart at an auction and broke the goat to be hitched up and pull the cart. Whenever kids would come to the farm where the goat was, it was drive-the-goat-cart time. The goat and the cart and the kids were also big attractions in the parades at the various fairs and get-togethers during the summers and falls. And although the red ribbon and bow was also an important part of the goat’s wardrobe, the only time he wore it was Christmas Eve.
“It was in the summer of a year when Elmer the Goat was living at Gene’s farm that Gene had the fatal heart attack while milking the cows. The day after the funeral, Elmer told Gene’s widow what he intended to do, and she thought it a good idea. Later that day, Elmer came and took the goat, the harness, the cart, and the red ribbon and bow back to his farm — for good.
“Every Christmas Eve, Uncle Elmer put the red ribbon and bow around the goat’s neck before Midnight Mass and took it off right after. If the goat missed Gene and Gene’s pack of dogs, he never showed it. He seemed content to live at just the one farm and didn’t seem to mind that no one ever called him Goat or Elmer anymore. From the time he came at Elmer’s to stay, he went by the name Gene.
“Once again, a true story. I left the names the same because, sadly, none are with us anymore. And besides — how could you improve on names like Dog, Horse, Goat, or even Boy?”
The Permanent Sonly Record
Sunday report from Cat’s Mom of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: “Today is the last day my son, whom I have been calling Armyboy, will be in the Army.
“When he got out of active duty, he joined the reserves. With graduation from tech school looming, and entering the job market, he elected not to re-enlist. So Armyboy will turn into engineer3, as his father and grandfather are also engineers. (The apple does not fall far from the tree; his grandfather was in the Army during World War II.)
“This mom is hoping he will get a job close to home.”
Then & Now
Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “‘What the Fluff?’ That is the headline in the La Crosse Tribune Sunday food section. Marshmallow Fluff is turning 100 years old this year, and it brings back good memories for me. When I was in middle school and high school, my after-school snack would be saltine crackers with Marshmallow Fluff on them. Yum!
“I have both ingredients in my cupboard right now, so I must make me a gourmet snack.”
Band Name of the Day: The Gift Goats
Website of the Day: How to be an American: Syrian refugees find a home in Trump country