Saturday, May 22, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #372
Nancy White Kelly

Some of my favorite friends are the insulting kind. You know…those people who teasingly throw out sarcastic, linguistic jabs at lightening fast speed. These pundits know their victims well and are selective about who is on the receiving end of these verbal acts. Only members of the Mutual Admiration Society participate. It would be an act of social war to send the same message to someone whose heart is housed in a body wrapped in sensitive skin.

A reader wrote me this note just after my book, Journal of a Living Lady, was published: "Thanks for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." That reader and I have known each other for more than thirty years and we have a history of comedic slams.

Perverse or reverse humor has been around a long time. You might be surprised at the people who have engaged in such verbal warfare. These are a couple of my choice quotes:

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one."
- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.


"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

'Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?' - Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)


Unfortunately, not all wit is well-intentioned. Remember the exchange between
Churchill & Lady Astor. She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
He replied, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

And finally. A member of Parliament discoursed to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."

"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

I have always heard that quick wit is a sign of lofty intelligence. Even though I carry an ancient Mensa membership card as a reminder of smarter days, I still don’t qualify for the elite group who can instantly return a swicket.

But to my good friend who is always late, I offer a defense on her behalf. She has good reason for perpetual tardiness. Her ancestors arrived on the Juneflower.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #371

Nancy White Kelly

Notoriety is a funny thing. One day you are a nobody and gradually everybody, at least locally, seems to know you.

After writing a newspaper column for over 12 years, being on Oprah, surviving two major and public bouts of cancer, writing a book, traveling the world, you might expect a few fans. But not the paparazzi. Not in the quaint mountain town of Young Harris, Georgia.

Recently Buddy and I were preparing for a morning visit to town. We needed a belt for the vacuum cleaner. It was a good excuse to stop for pancakes at a cozy restaurant across the street from our church.

There was coolness in the house so I donned a light jacket and glanced outside for a more accurate check on the weather.

To my amazement there was a small crowd of folks at the far corner of our property. Parked cars lined the street near the edge of the pasture.

“Come see this” I called to Buddy. “Twenty-five people or more are gathered outside. They have cameras and binoculars.”

Buddy sprinted across the den. His eyes widened in disbelief.

“What are they doing?” he whispered.

“I don’t know, but they sure seem interested in us.”

No longer whispering, Buddy asked with a hint of distain, “Have you applied for a reality show?”

“No, have you?” I asked with obvious sarcasm.

Being slightly famous is fun for some. Not so much for me. I don’t care to be followed by nosey reporters. Never will I be a candidate for that dancing program which aims to make buffoons of aging actresses, astronauts, and computer programmers. Five extra minutes of fame can be detrimental to one’s legacy.

Nevertheless, I went to the bathroom, fluffed my hair and re-applied my make-up. This time I was careful that my lipstick was straight. Never know when a candid picture may show up on the cover of People magazine.

Buddy and I quietly got into the car. Our three acres has total road frontage. Buddy suggested we travel the back section which butted the main frontage road just behind the group. If all went as planned, the celebrity hounds wouldn’t notice us at all.

Buddy slowly made his way up the gravely incline and inched toward the stop sign. So far we had not drawn attention. As we drew closer to the conspicuously quiet group, we could see faces.

There they were, men and women outfitted in comfortable outdoor attire, staring intently through large binoculars.

Buddy and I were proud of our near escape. While the crowd was looking high and low, we were about to turn the opposite direction.

I was the first to spot an identification badge. I spontaneously laughed so hard I held my belly.

“Turn left, honey. Not right. Left”

Puzzled at my hysterical out-burst and strange request, Buddy dutifully turned left in front of the group of mostly middle-aged stalkers.

Buddy lowered his side window as he slowly passed by.

“Howdy, folks. It’s a nice day,” he said pleasantly to the man closest to the road. Then Buddy moaned as the words on the badge sunk in.

Written in bold block letters was an I.D.: “BIRD WATCHER.”
Buddy and I meekly gave little waves as we continued down the road.

What lesson was learned that memorable day? Some people are living legends in their own minds.