Thursday, January 25, 2007

WILLIE AND THE BRAIN - short story

Those who are not fans of the late Sir P. G. Wodehouse might as well keep on truckin' down the old info highway. This story is my homage to the great "Plum" a master of light humor who wrote something like 100 novels. He is probably best known as the creator of the irredeemably dim and unflaggingly affable, Bertie Wooster, and his invincible valet, Jeeves.

This story is based on the Wodehouse analysis of the male-female relationship which he first propounded in his novel, Uneasy Money:

"At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies."

Bayou Bill


Willie and the Brain
by Bill Fullerton

"If only the good die young, that crew will live to a hundred.” This unflattering rumination came from one, William Jackson “Willie” Sinclair IV. The target of his jaundiced assessment was the Iota Fraternity test procurement committee. Its entire membership was currently passed out in a back room of the Iota house amid a sea of card, chips, and empty beer cans.

What prompted Willie’s unkind assessment was their failure to obtain any copies of his upcoming tests. This dereliction of duty meant he faced some serious book time.

Casual observers, unaware of the fortitude possessed by the scion of the Sinclair clan, might have expected him to quail at the prospect of real study. For it is true that not unlike the lily of the field, young Willie spun not, neither did he weave in the groves of academe. It is, therefore, to his credit that young Willie’s resolve was unshaken. This stouthearted attitude was due, in no small measure, to the proximity of a certain, Ms Edwina Toupes.

Known to her small but loyal band of friends and admirers as, “Etta,” she was an acknowledged campus brain. Willie’s surprising inclusion in her circle of acquaintances was due to his sincere appreciation for Ms Toupes' remarkable mental capabilities and her unfailing willingness to share that gift with him.

It is true, that he sometimes overheard certain Iota brothers making gross references to her grade point average far exceeding her bosom's measurement. But like most other thoughts, ones about her figure seldom troubled his mind. To him, the important point was not the modest number assigned to Etta's bosom, but the even more modest figure that now represented his own grade point average.

For Willie, Ms Toupes' attraction was spiritual and intellectual, not physical. It was an appeal not of the flesh but of the mind. In short, he knew no one was more capable than Etta of helping him overcome his very real academic shortcomings.

This profound appreciation of Ms Toupes' scholarly qualifications was commendable. But when it came to noticing the young lady's physical attributes, he was a total failure. For a worldly-wise Iota Assistant Rush Chairman, the oversight was surprising. It is true that even charitable observers described Etta as petite, even slender. However, those same individuals also noted with approval her large brown eyes, pert button of a nose, brilliant smile and long, rather shapely legs.

The condition of Etta’s legs was a combination of favorable genetics and her participation on the school's new women's track team. She mentioned this membership during their most recent extended social intercourse near the end of last semester.

Etta’s involvement with varsity athletics troubled Willie. As a key member of the football team, he held on point-after and field goal attempts, he knew how physically demanding sports could be.

He was also bothered by her recent adoption of "Ms" as her preferred title. This might be the ‘70’s, but Willie's views on social norms were of an old-world, antiquarian bent. However, he credited himself with being tolerant enough to overlook Etta's recent faddish excesses. This forbearance reflected both his cosmopolitan appreciation for the capriciousness of the female of the specie and his current academic imperatives. As a result, he had no problem curbing his natural instinct towards brotherly remonstration.

Willie felt justified in this decision. After all, Etta was an intelligent girl, in a bookish sort of way. Sooner or later, her basic good sense would overcome these impulsive gestures toward modernity. So it was with a clear conscience that he hopped in his car and exited the Iota house parking lot in search of Ms Etta.

The automobile in question was a dilapidated model rich in years. To the uninitiated, this might seem surprising. Willie was sole heir to the Sinclair family fortune, the limits of which had been perceived by few and then but dimly and at a great distance. But Willie considered, "The Heap," his fond name for the car, a thing of joy and satisfaction.

The Sinclair’s did not amass a rather large pile of liquid assets by being spendthrifts. The cautious use of money was preached to young Willie from his earliest days. The Sinclair’s were, as a rule, extremely frugal. Willie proved to be a glaring exception that made the rule.

The Heap was the chief, some would say only, evidence the sermons of his elders had not been totally in vain. Willie had it from a good authority, his mother, that its presence was all that kept his allowance checks rolling in. Now he guided The Heap in an unusual direction, toward that natural habitat of Ms Edwina Toupes, the school library.

Etta had just reached the library steps when Willie once again staged an entrance into her life. Since it was test week, this meeting came as no surprise. Willie had been staging these raids on her with tidal regularity since their freshman year in high school.

One unwanted by-product of her periodic attempts at academic resuscitation was the solitary “B” that kept her from having a perfect 4.00 average. But Etta had a remarkably sanguine attitude toward Willie’s reappearances.

Since their first meeting in ninth grade, she’d been fascinated by Willie Sinclair. In her opinion, he was a force of nature, but with a quiet charm most people overlooked. He also very good looking, which was nice, and possessed many things she lacked, such as money and self-confidence.

Over the years, Etta had come to realize she had things missing from Willie’s make-up. High on that list were common sense and self-discipline. However, time and self-awareness had not lessened her fascination with Willie. Therefore, she greeted him warmly. "Willie, what's a guy like you doing in a nice place like this?"

"Just trying to improve the image of this den of learning, Ms Toupes. What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be off burning a bra or some such?” Willie couldn’t believe what he just said. It wasn't a very smart thing to say when about to ask for a favor. But most of all, in light of her endowment, or lack of the same, it was downright rude.

"Sorry about that, Etta. I didn't mean to get personal like, you know. I mean, politics is one thing but friendship is another, uh, don't you know." Willie squirmed. Apologies weren't his strong suit, few things were, and he’d hashed that one to the max.

As usual, Etta was a good scout. "It wouldn't do me any good to go to one those demonstrations. Training bras are flame proof.” Just like Etta to let a fellow off the hook, he thought, experiencing an intense feeling of gratitude.

Much to his relief, Etta picked up the conversational ball. "Willie, according to my sundial, it's test week. Now if I hadn’t known you since the ninth grade, I might think you're just here for some mindless social reason, like asking me to the big Iota Valentine’s Day dance. But I bet you're here on a more serious, a more scholarly mission. Why, I bet going to the dance hasn't even crossed your mind, especially with me. The only thing you’re concerned about is how you’re going to do on your tests. Am I right, Willie? When you think of me, you think of tests, not Valentine’s Day and dances, right?"

Willie was not the worlds' strongest debater. To him, logic was illogical. When it came to diplomacy and negotiation, he was strictly of the, "Take it or leave it," school. However, even he could see his present position was precarious. Never strong at thinking on his feet, or seated for that matter, he now had to take quick stock of the situation and make a command decision.

He’d already given Etta a good reason to be huffy with that dumb bra burning joke. And while she’d been remarkably decent about that screw-up, he sensed it would be a mistake to presume too much on her sense of humor, especially about that subject.

What’s more, there were signs she might be coming around to the belief his visits were due solely to his sagging grade point average. Of course, that wasn’t true, well, at least not entirely. The timing had been purely coincidental all these years. Still, it had been a lot of years. Some of the egghead types he noticed hanging around her might have started questioning his motives.

Then there was the dance. Until Etta brought it up, he’d been able to put thoughts of the Iota Valentine’s Day dance out of his mind. Not that the dance by itself was unpleasant, in fact, it was something he rather liked. It was just that thinking about it reminded him of, The Sin.

Cynthia “The Sin” Bliss possessed the type of beauty, both God-given and enhanced, that tends to stop traffic. She was a tall, tanned, long-legged, blue-eyed, blonde. The generous proportions of her eye-catching figure brought to mind the extreme curvature of an hourglass.

The Sin and Willie had been a number for the longest, maybe over a month. While not actually pinned, the word was out. Then suddenly, Willie was out with, The Sin.

The woman had, of course, been totally unreasonable. The beginning of the end occurred when she took exception to riding in, The Heap. Willie tried to explain the reasons behind his affection for the car, such as low maintenance and steady allowance. However, she was firm as only a homecoming queen can be. It was either her or, The Heap.

The Sin was a bit surprised when he took, The Heap. She was not dismayed, just surprised. Willie had begun to grow on her. Unlike most of her dates, he was a gentleman. And she liked the stories of his family's financial resources. But his decision convinced her the stories of his monetary estate were either exaggerated or he was one really weird car nut.

The truth was, in the end, Willie picked the full figure on his allowance check over that possessed by, The Sin. It had been two weeks since, the great divide, and Willie was just beginning to recover from its effects. Now Etta had brought all those painful memories rushing back.

Questions of the heart aside, he also had to face an immediate crises regarding questions on tests. Etta's remarks indicated to even his slow wit that the strategies of the past might prove less fruitful than usual in conjuring up her cooperation. A simple question like, "How's about a Coke?" somehow didn't seem to be an adequate opening gambit.

Light rarely illuminated the intellect of Willie Sinclair with any measurable brilliance. In this case, however, his bulb was approaching searchlight candlepower. "The Valentine’s Day dance!" he exclaimed, breaking a somewhat protracted silence.

Etta continued to gaze up at Willie as he was once again lost to thought. He'd invite good old Etta to the dance. It had never occurred to him to ask her to any social event. Not that he didn't respect, admire and even like her. He just never thought about her as a date.

But taking Etta to the dance would kill several birds with one, somewhat tiny, stone. She wasn’t, The Sin, but then who was? Still, she wasn't a bad looking girl, if you thought about it. In fact, you might even call her cute in a healthy, perky sort of way. And having a date for the Valentine’s Day dance would show The Sin that William Jackson Sinclair's social life didn’t end with the great divide.

Going to the dance with Etta would also spare him the agony of taking Priscilla Rogers, the family favorite for his hand in matrimony. Unfortunately, Priscilla was neither perky and smart like Etta nor beautiful and interesting like, The Sin. Priscilla was to Willie as Oakland was to the poet who proclaimed, "There’s no there, there".

And his asking Etta to the dance would prove he wasn’t just interested in her academically. That should relieve any suspicions she might be harboring concerning his intentions at this pivotal point on the academic calendar.

"Willie," it was Etta breaking the second extended period of silence. "You said something about the Iota Valentine’s Day dance?"

"Yes, of course I did, I mean, you reminded me, you know?" As usual, Willie was having some trouble getting into verbal gear. "What I’m trying to say is, Etta, we've been friends for ages and I guess you heard about me and, The Sin. Will, I don't want you to think that I'm just trying to pick you up on the rebound but, like I said, we've been good friends for ages and I don't have a date for the dance. So I wondered if you'd like to go, you know, with me, to the Iota Valentine’s Day dance?" With a sigh, Willie completed one the longest orations in his intercollegiate career.

Although her heart performed an impressive high-jump into her throat, Etta didn't blink an eye, "That might be fun. But it depends on how well you do on your tests. After all, you’ve got to keep your grades up to stay on the football team. In case you've forgotten, I'm not just a brain anymore. I'm a jock, kind of like you, in a way."

She grinned and gestured toward the library. "So shake a leg, big fella. Let’s get a move on. If I know you, we'll have to hustle up to catch up. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Ya know what I mean?"

The End

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Sunday, January 14, 2007


Stelly's Restaurant
Lebeau, Louisiana
photo by Warmbucket's Photos

This 2000 word short story is based on an excerpt from my second novel, “We Danced to Ray Charles.” Such literary transmogrifications always run the risk of confusing readers due to missing information. If any such lapses are noticed, please, please, please (yeah, I miss James Brown) let me know.

Bayou Bill


An Engagement for Lunch
by Bill Fullerton

The white, travel-worn, Ford Galaxie lumbered past fields of cotton and sugar cane on its way south to Baton Rouge. No one inside noticed. They’d seen it all before and were too busy talking.

On the radio, Bobby Goldsboro began a lugubrious lament about a dead wife and a live tree. Mark beat Amy to the dial and, as was his right by conquest, turned down the volume. Amy, who would have turned the volume up, leaned back and gave her life-long best friend the finger. He grinned in triumph at the obscene gesture, then motioned toward the passing landscape. “Y’all know what this road needs?”

The question halted conversation until Bob, sitting in the back with Libby, broke the silence. “Something tells me widening this sucker and straightening out the curves isn’t the answer.”

“A wide, safe, straight road? Get real, Brother Hemphill. No, it just struck me that this road needs a few Burma Shave signs like the ones along the highway to Shreveport.”

“And here I thought you were going to say it needed more honky tonks,” said Libby, as the car passed another unpainted, frame building covered with beer signs.

“Can’t have too much of a good thing,” said Mark. “Besides, those are juke joints, not honky tonks.” No one took the bait and asked him to explain the difference.

“What about more speed traps, potholes, and road kill?” asked Amy, darting her hand over to turn up the volume. The lugubrious lament about a dead wife and a live tree was ending. The Beatles began singing the praises of “Lady Madonna.” The song got everybody feeling goofy and bouncing in their seats. The AM radio signal began fading just before the song ended.

Mark turned it off. “End of civilization as we know it, except for Cajun, gospel, or country. And since those are out of the question, I guess I’ll have to fill in the dead air with a detailed account of my love life.”

Amy giggled. “That shouldn’t take but a mile or two.”

“That might have been funny, you redheaded hussy,” said Mark, over the laughter in the car, “if it wasn’t the absolute, pathetic, damn truth.”

“I told you we should have come in my car,” she said. “That way we’d have had the 8-track for music, and you’d have been spared all that emotional trauma.”

Mark gave her a stern look. “If we’d come in that rolling wreck of yours, the trauma would have been physical, not emotional. According to Hoss, your daddy just about had a fit when he learned your brakes were an accident waiting to happen, the front end was way-to-hell-and-gone-again out of line, the tires were shot, and the engine was hurting for a tune-up, if not an overhaul. Have you ever heard of changing the oil?”

“At least you can open my passenger door,” she spun the non-functioning handle on her door to emphasize the point.

This announcement wasn’t a news flash. The door handle in question hadn’t worked for years. Mark, who always got out on the driver’s side, considered it one of the car’s lesser blemishes. “Any human being can open that door, even you. Just roll down the window, stick out your hand, and use the outside handle. And if that’s too much trouble, you’ll be glad to know Hoss promised to fix it, someday.”

“Hoss is a bigger gossip than Skeeter,” grumbled Amy, still annoyed at his telling both her father and Mark about her car’s minor mechanical imperfections. “Between him at the garage and her at the beauty shop, no one’s safe.”

They were heading for what promised to be a real “hippie” wedding between Howard Ingram and Ginger Reynolds. Along with almost everyone else at LSU, Mark and Amy knew all about the groom. Howard was once one of the school’s many hustling future politician types. But over the last year, he began to assume the trappings of the counter-culture.

The bride was an average-to-pretty brunette who first met Howard at a fraternity party during their freshman year. She’d stayed with him through his unsuccessful campaigns for various student council posts. Then she went along with his recent transformation from frat rat to flower child. Libby knew her from high school in Shreveport, Amy and Mark from college.

Bob didn’t know either one of them, which was fine with him. Libby was the reason he came along, although he claimed it was, “To see the show.”

An hour later, they made a pit stop at the one business in the crossroads community of Lebeau. Housed in a large, rambling, white building, Stelly’s Restaurant served as a combination truck stop, gas station, bus depot, souvenir shop, convenience store, restaurant, bar, and mini-casino.

For Libby and Amy, the main attraction was the somewhat less than legal mini-casino located in a place of honor near the bar. Neither cared that all it contained was a few aging slot machines which, for appearances’ sake, lacked the traditional “one-armed” pull handle. While Bob and Mark went into the nearby restaurant to find a table and order, they got five dollars worth of nickels from the cashier and hit the machines.

They were down to a couple of dollars when the food arrived but still didn’t want to stop. Bob took on the thankless job of herding them over to the table.

The looks on Amy and Libby’s faces almost made Mark sorry the food had come. They were like a couple of little schoolgirls at an amusement park. But as every man in the place seemed to have noticed, they were grown women and jaw-dropping beautiful.

For years, Libby spent two or three weeks each summer in Pinefield with the Marshall family. She’d always been beautiful. Unlike Amy, she never went through a gawky phase. One summer she was an angelic little blue-eyed blond. The next year she was a gorgeous young woman.

The tight, hip-hugger bell-bottoms and short halter-top Libby had on showcased a figure that needed no help. Amy had on an LSU t-shirt at least one size too small and a pair of short, snug cut-offs that emphasized her long legs. It all made for a very pleasant view.

When the parade arrived, he gave them a stern look. “Y’all are starving, remember? That’s all you’ve been talking about since we left Alexandria.”

Bob sat down and prepared to tackle his jambalaya. “I don’t know what’s worse. The fact they’re both gambling addicts or that they come to south Louisiana and order hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“We’re not gambling addicts.” Libby took a defiant bite of her grilled cheese sandwich.

“That’s right,” agreed Amy, who was pouring ketchup on her hamburger. “We’re not gambling addicts. We’re slot machine addicts. So there.”

Mark ate some more crawfish etouffee and shook his head in a show of disappointment. “I can see it plain as day, Bob. Forty years from now, these two will be old, blue-haired ladies camped out in front of a row of slot machines in some low-class casino tossing away their Social Security checks at a nickel a pull.”

“And loving every minute of it,” said Amy. “Besides, I’ll never grow old. I’m going to be young, dumb, and happy forever. And at the rate things have been going for me, I’ll be boyfriend-less as well.”

Libby gave Bob a warning smile. “You better not agree with Mark or I might be an unmarried, old lady playing those slot machines.”

“Which reminds me,” said Amy, “have you two gotten around to deciding about wedding dates and all that?”

“Well, kinda. Although Mr. Romance here never has asked me.”

Bob rose to his own defense. “That’s not true.”

“Oh, yes, it is, dear,” said Libby. No one could miss the contrary emphasis on what should have been a term of endearment. “We’ve talked about getting married after you graduate. But the closest you ever came to a proposal was when you asked me if I had a date in mind for the wedding.”

An uneasy smile crept across Bob’s face. “Uh, well, you knew what I meant.”

“Yes, I did. And it’s all right, honest. But facts are facts. And the fact is, you’ve never asked.”

Mark and Amy glanced at one another and nodded. “Well, it’s now or never, Romeo,” said Mark. “There’s no better place to do the dirty deed than here in front of all these customers, and no better time than after a last meal, I mean a good meal. So give it your best shot before I lose control and start moving in on your woman.”

“We could leave, and give y’all a little privacy,” said Amy. “We could, but we won’t.”

Bob pretended to scowl at his two friends. “I should charge you two admission.” They responded with big grins.

After that, he ignored them and focused on the stunning young woman sitting beside him, the only girl he’d ever loved. “You want me to get down on one knee?”

She blushed and gave him a smile that took in the entire restaurant. “Not if you want me to say yes.”

Back in the car, Amy turned around and looked at Libby. “How does it feel to be officially engaged?”

“Nice, very nice.” She was still beaming and leaning her head on Bob’s shoulder. “I didn’t think it mattered. But it feels, I don’t know, special.”

“I guess that blows Mark’s vision of the two of us as old ladies gambling away our Social Security checks.” Amy poked him in the ribs.

Mark pretended to slap at her hand. “Don’t mess with the driver, young lady. Your life is in my hands.”

“God, but…” her voice trailed off. Then she finished her sentence. “That’s a scary thought.” After giving him another poke, she leaned back against her door and closed her eyes.

Outside, the scenery soon changed from open farmland to cypress trees, palmettos, and standing water. It marked the beginning of the huge Atchafalaya basin. After negotiating a long, narrow stretch of road through the swamp, they reached a four-lane highway and headed east.

The silence inside the car was starting to get on Mark’s nerves. Glancing in the rearview mirror, he saw Bob with his eyes closed and a pleased expression plastered on his face. There was no sign of Libby, aside from that look on Bob’s face.

With the folks in the back being otherwise occupied, there was no one left to play with except Amy. But when he looked over at her, he could tell she wasn’t in a playful mood. Her eyes were closed, but he knew she was awake. Instead of her mouth being open, which would have been the case if she were sleeping, her lips were pressed together in a small, tight frown.

She was unhappy. That much was obvious. But he wasn’t sure why, much less what he should do. His first instinct was to get her to slide over beside him and put his arm around her shoulders. But he wasn’t sure how either of them would react. So far he had no problems when they were together. He could still fool himself into thinking Amy was still just his old friend and didn’t want to push things.

But there was something else. Her expression was new to him. It was like dejection mixed with a touch of anger. Maybe she had a headache, except Amy almost never got headaches. Maybe it was that time of the month. Maybe it was none of his damn business. Whatever its cause, the look convinced him his gesture might do them both more harm than good.

All he could do was hope she’d be in a better mood when they got to Baton Rouge. After getting past the speed traps of tiny Krotz Springs and crossing over the narrow, Atchafalaya River bridge, Mark pushed the old Ford’s speedometer past 80 and silently hurried east.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Old Newt's New Year Resolutions

Newt Harlan is a gifted Texas writer and a friend. Instead of posting his stuff on a blog, Old Newt sends a n electronic newsletter, Pearls of Profound Wisdom and Other Misguided Thoughts, free of charge, to anyone who sends him an e-mail at - - and asks to join in the fun.

His first epistle of 2007 opened with some Profound Wisdom on the subject of New Year resolution which I've posted below. If you want to read the newsletter's, Other Misguided Thoughts, send Old Newt one of those e-mails I mentioned. Tell him Bayou Bill sent you.


by Newt Harlan

Here it is January 1st again and that means we have important things to do. For some of us there are hangovers to cure, then there are football bowl games to watch and we all need to eat a mess of greens and black-eyed peas to insure good luck and good fortune in the coming year.

Today, also marks the day many of us start off the New Year with a clean slate and the chance to right old wrongs, correct bad habits, improve behavior, performance and relationships and set various other goals for self-improvement and other high-minded undertakings. This exercise is commonly called making “New Year’s Resolutions”.

For many years I did really good in the resolution department. My resolution was always not to make any resolutions. I succeeded in keeping that one every year for quite some time, until in 2003 a friend challenged me to make some “real” resolutions. Bad move. As I recall, I made 5 or 6 of the self-improvement kinds and by the time February rolled around I had broken all but 2 and by the end of the year, I had failed miserably. I think the only resolution I managed to half-assed keep was one where I resolved to be nice to a couple of people I wasn’t real fond of, and the only reason I managed to keep that one was they both moved out of town.

After that 2003 fiasco, I resumed my “no resolutions is a good resolution” policy. Truthfully, I do feel somewhat guilty about setting my sights so low. After all, New Year’s resolutions are a tradition and even though I did make one last year, I’m sure there are many of you who think even though I kept the one I made, it was pretty much a wussy resolution which really and truly was just a cop out on “real” resolutions.

So this year I’ve decided to jump right into the fray with y’all and make some “real” resolutions, if for no other reason, just to keep the tradition going, because this country needs good traditions. Just think if we didn’t have traditions, anarchy and chaos would reign and we’d probably revert back to being cavemen and maybe eventually start being renegades or cannibals or frenchmen or something. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a contributor to something like that, so this year I’ve made me some “real” resolutions.

Of course, when you get to be as old as I am, there aren’t too many things going on in your life that need resolving. My little stay in the hospital last year took care of quitting smoking and also helped me to shed about 35 lbs., so those two possible resolutions are off the table.

Finally, after much thought and serious deliberation, I came up with the following areas where I can probably stand some self improvement:

· I will under no circumstances attempt skydiving. I have nothing against those who participate in this sport, but at my age I don’t think it would be that much of an accomplishment to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with just a scrap of cloth between me and a splatter on the ground below. Besides, I’ve already done it once… They made me do it when I was in the service.

· I will not knowingly eat possum, muskrat or nutria. Of course, if I’m invited to a hunting camp over somewhere in the East Texas thicket country, it’s considered rude to question whatever might be offered to eat, potluck is potluck.

· I will wear underwear under my pants when out in public and will make every effort to insure they’re clean in the event there’s an accident. Wearing underwear becomes more important as I advance in age because I sometimes forget to re-zip after I unzip and it’s uncouth to walk around with your business hanging out… Not to mention that people tend to point and laugh.

· I will continue to be politically incorrect. Things and people are what they are and calling them by a different name doesn’t change a damned thing. Like Uncle Babe Martin used to say, “no matter how many times you call bullshit peanut butter, it still looks and smells like bullshit.”

· I will continue my quest to determine the correct way to dispense toilet paper from the roll---over the top or from the bottom. Somebody, somewhere out there has the answer to this.

· I will quit procrastinating. (But I’m not going to start this one until May or June or maybe September.)

· I will not buy a helicopter. I can’t fly a helicopter and don’t have a license to fly one, so it would be very dangerous for me to own a helicopter. I won’t buy an airplane for the same reasons. Besides helicopters scare my dog.

· I will continue to speak primarily English in my home and in most cases, everywhere I go in public. I may attempt a little Spanish with the folks down at the Mexican restaurant, but they usually talk too fast for me to understand what they’re saying. Russian is the only other foreign language I have any kind of grasp of and I haven’t run across any Russian speakers around here in about 10 years. About the only other “foreign language” I may attempt speaking is some unknown tongues late at night down at the beer joint…but then I haven’t been at the beer joint past eight o’clock in years, so that’s highly unlikely.

· I will not allow any Bigfoot, Sasquatch or chupacabra to take up residence in my backyard or anywhere in close proximity of my house. Those things are flat dangerous.

· I will continue to be the same irascible, incorrigible curmudgeon that I’ve been for the majority of my 66 some odd years; it’s way too late to change now and most folks wouldn’t recognize me any other way.

There you have my New Year’s Resolutions for 2007. We’ll check in periodically during the year for a progress review. Then, if at the end of 2007, I do manage to keep at least some of these, I will have contributed to the New Year’s resolution tradition by making and keeping some “real” resolutions, plus I will have completed at least a few items of self-improvement and personal growth. Perhaps between now and then, y’all can think of a suitable reward for such an accomplishment.