It never fails. Just let me say one nice thing about the great state of Georgia and I get letters from people who (A) live in the state, but (B) are originally from a state north of the Mason-Dixon Line that (C) they think is better than the state in which they now reside.
As many of my readers have figured out by now, I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. But if folks (A) don't think much of us and (B) think that where they came from is so superior, then (C) what the hell are they still doing here?
When I get confused about such things, I always consult with my friend and counselor, Skeeter Skates, owner of Skeeter's Tree Stump Removal and Plow Repair in Greater Metropolitan Pooler, who is a very wise man about these matters.
"It is obvious," he said, while wiping down a Quick Stump-Away stump grinder attachment with pistol grip control harness and factory-installed Parker flat-faced coupler. "They are jealous of us."
But why don't they go back where they came from? I whined. Skeeter tries to be real patient with me, but I can tell it is sometimes difficult for him. For one thing, he and I seem to have this conversation every time some expatriate writes me and dumps on our natural beauty or our cuisine. "Let me tell you one more time, Hoss. If they have half the brains the Good Lord give them to come here in the first place, they got enough brains not to want to go back to where it snows 10 months a year." He has a point.
Why do they write me such snotty notes? (I wanted to say "condescending," but I wasn't sure Skeeter would know what that word means because he doesn't read much. Tree stump removal and plow repair take up most of his time. However, I figured he would understand "snotty." That's one word you don't have to look up.)
Skeeter asked for an example. I told him about a reader from Iowa who now lives in Georgia and who, after reading a recent column in praise of Georgia, said my "chauvinism was buffoonery" and that my "penchant for thumping the tub is so often directed amiss." Neither Skeeter nor I have any idea what that means, but it didn't sound like a compliment.
Professor Big Words also had some acute observations about our politics, too. He said it amazed him that so many Georgians treat Jimmy Carter's record of "public service, simple decency and positive accomplishment so shabbily," and that I "should be ashamed of joining in such a backward and mean-spirited clamor."
He said that Iowa's former president, Herbert Hoover, never won a Nobel Peace Prize. Hoover probably never campaigned for governor as a racist, either.
None of this seemed to bother Skeeter until I told him the writer said our barbecue couldn't compare to crab cakes. Skeeter stopped rubbing down his stump grinder attachment. I could tell he wasn't happy. "How the hell does anybody from Iowa know squat about crab cakes?" he growled. "All they got in Iowa is hogs, heifers and hay. We not only have the best barbecue anywhere, we've got more restaurants in Georgia serving first-rate crab cakes than Iowa's got cow patties."
I told Skeeter the letter writer had hurt my feelings because I had said such nice things about Iowa a few weeks ago.
"Well, in the first place," Skeeter said, "you're too damned sensitive. All you newspaper writers are like that. If you had a real job, you wouldn't have time to worry about that kind of stuff. Second, I hope this will serve as a reminder to you to quit writing about how blessed we are to live in Georgia. All that does is encourage the transplantation of more tramontanes, which in turn invites increased churlish and condescending correspondence replete with acrimonious animadversion. Now, get your lard bottom out of here, Hoss. I've got a tree stump removal and plow repair business to run."
Skeeter Skates never ceases to amaze me.
E-mail columnist Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.