This is my first column since my rotator cuff surgery, and it hasn't been easy getting the words to come out the way I intended them to. My left hand is slower than a Georgia Income Tax return and my right hand is totally unsympathetic and flies across the keyboard like a bunny rabbit. What results are some newly-minted words that would feel at home in your basic Kazakhstani dictionary. My computer's spell-check has quit, saying life is too short to be looking up words like "jgoflnib" and "dopwrogz."
The surgery was more intensive than first thought. My surgeon, the able Dr. Tom Myers, took three hours repairing what he called a "massive tear" and placed pins and whatnot around the area to keep it from falling apart again, thus ensuring I may one day be able to scratch my head without fainting from the pain.
To help me while away my recovery time, my friend and neighbor, Tom Hoover, dropped off a copy of Zell Miller's latest literary effort, "Purt Nigh Gone," a compendium of the Southern Appalachians and of a way of life that Zell says, "once was but is no more, a way of life that is purt nigh gone."
He laments the fact that as boy, he could play hopscotch in the road in his hometown of Young Harris and see nary a car. (Try as I may, I have a hard time visualizing Zell Miller playing hopscotch.)
Today, some 11,000 vehicles pass by his home daily. What he doesn't mention is that many of them are traveling on the modern Zell Miller Parkway. If you don't want them to come, don't build them a parkway.
Zell lists 101 reasons why he lives in Appalachia, including the fact that nobody wears their hat backward, you can understand the words to their songs, drivers always pull over for a funeral possession and there is a gun in every home and a dog in the front seat of every pickup truck. I think he would agree that those attributes can be found in a lot of the rest of Georgia, too.
I hadn't gotten halfway into the chapter on hog killing when I was informed that Zell had just been to Atlanta and had promptly blown a gasket - worse than 2004 when he threatened to whup a smart-aleck Chris Matthews on national television. Speaking at the American Legislative Exchange Council, he fumed that the White House staff needed to put "Gorilla Glue" on President Barack Obama's chair to keep him in the Oval Office.
"Our globe-trotting president needs to stop and take a break and quit gallivanting around," he said. Miller called Obama's decision to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay "nuts" and compared the federal stimulus package to a Paris Hilton spending spree.
There is no question our former U.S. senator wanted the president and his minions to get the message loud and clear that he isn't happy with what is going on in the country. Not many of us are. But after looking through Zell's book, I am convinced it could have been a lot worse. He could have thrown some serious Appalachian English at them.
He could have said, for example, that the president is "just talking to hear his head roar" or that the stimulus package has as much chance for success "as a pig in a dog race." In response to the liberal weenies who think closing the Guantanamo prison will make the rest of the world love us, Zell would tell them "a wishbone ain't no substitute for a backbone."
So Obama and crew got off light. I know. I have experienced his wrath up close and personal. After having your hide peeled by Zell Miller, rotator cuff surgery is a walk in the park. Zell is a lot of things to a lot of people, but "misunderstood" is not one of them. As he himself would say, "You don't get lard unless you boil the hog."
Agree with him or not, you must admit that folks in Young Harris are correct when they say Zell Miller is a hard dog to keep under the porch.
E-mail columnist Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.