Be my guest to another letter from my old pal, Shagnasty: * * * Dear Bode, Did you ever have visitors that just wouldn’t go home’ That just stayed and stayed until you felt like excusing yourself for a moment and then come back into the room with your pajamas on hoping that they would take the hint’ Did your heart ever leap with hope when one of them stood up and said, ‘Hey, it’s getting late, we had better get going,’ and then dash your hopes by sitting back down to listen to the tale someone else had started’ How often have you wanted to wring your wife’s neck for bringing up a new subject just as the company was starting to leave’ How many times have I had them as far as the front door and then that mate of mine would say something like ‘What do you know about so and so’ and then we have to stand at the doorway until ‘so and so’ is finished. And being the polite type she (my wife) has to follow them out as far as the front porch steps to tell them good night and how much we enjoyed their visit. She then endangers her life by asking a question that leads to another five minutes of chatter. Chatter’that’s what it is’as soon as I said chatter I knew what was happening. The God of Chatter, one of those godlike demons of the outer world who has been tormenting you for years is also camping on my trail. While it is torment to me, it seems to be fun for him, as he takes every opportunity to get the product of his sovereignty started when people gather into a group. Now I understand why those visitors don’t go on home. That God of Chatter is standing around snickering because he has me so irritated. And, when the talk slacks up, he will jab one of the visitors or my wife in order to get some more chatter started. Now it doesn’t take much of a jab to get some of these chatter-boxes started. I find that many of them really have nothing of any significance to say but they obviously love to listen to themselves talk. Chatter to them is a fruit of the gods and they are always ready to serve some of their fruit salad to a captive audience. You might not think it is possible for a person to talk for fifteen minutes and not say anything, but it is, and I unfortunately have had to listen. I compare one of their tales to a trip, say from Brady to Brownwood. Instead of taking Hwy. 377 straight through to their destination, they will take you ‘around John Robinhood’s barn’ which may be a panoramic pilgrimage via San Angelo, Ballinger, Coleman, Santa Anna and thence to Brownwood. This is done without ever giving thought to the possibility that their tale was made boring as hell by that wide detour. During the composition of these roundabout trips, they will bring in the names of all of their friends along the route, whom you wouldn’t know from ‘Adams off ox.’ They also tell humorless stories about them that are filled with their own amused laughter. ‘Gad,’ I say to myself, ‘will this tale never end’ Then I ask myself, ‘What have I done to have caused this God of the Universe to amuse himself with me’ Is it because of my long friendship with you that I am rewarded with this punishment’ Perhaps, when you left this part of the country, you failed to take him with you. Then, being lonesome and needing someone to play with he chose me as the object of his affection. When I remember the tales you have told about all of your Gods of outer world I feel that this God of Chatter is probably an offspring of your God of Irritation. His objective in this instance is to keep my company in a constant state of chatter. At long last they leave, and I say unto my wife: ‘Wife why did you keep bringing up new subjects and keep those people talking, and talking’ You know full well how all of that jabbering irritates me.’ And do you know what she said’ She said, ‘I don’t really know, it just seemed like every time they started home some one jabbed me and I blurted out with some more chatter.’ See what I mean’ Any time you want this pesky devil back I will be happy to send him to you. Your wishful friend,’ SHAG * * * Footnote: Another letter, this one from a cousin: We had a county asylum close to the route into town, and for some reason, I was deathly afraid of the inmates. My grand dad told me this story to help me get over it: There was a salesman driving down the road by the old county asylum and he had a flat. He got out and looked around and saw only one inmate peering through the steel bar fence. The guy obviously couldn’t help him, so he started changing the tire. He jacked up the car and removed the lug nuts and put them in a hub cap that he set beside the road. Then, he pulled the flat tire off, put the fresh tire on, and reached for the lug nuts. Right then a big truck came barreling by and clipped the hub cap and spun it down the road. The lug nuts were scattered everywhere. He started searching for them, but came up empty. Then he started moaning about his misfortune and complaining about there being no one around to help but the inmate looking through the fence. About that time the inmate spoke up and said, ‘Hey, mister, do you want a suggestion’ The salesman said, ‘Sure, but I don’t think you can really help.’ The inmate said, ‘Why don’t you take one lug nut off of each of the other three wheels and put them on the wheel you just replaced’ Then if you drive slow, you can get to town okay and then buy some new lug nuts’ The salesman was aghast that he hadn’t thought of that himself. He said, ‘That is a really good idea, young man. But how can a guy like you, in a place like that, think of something like that’ The inmate said, ‘It was easy. I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.’ Bill Bodenhamer is a weekly columnist for the Brady Standard-Herald. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.