A hunting buddy and I, when I was stationed in California, would make an annual trip to Los Padres National Forest, allegedly in pursuit of the elusive Mule deer. At some point in the couple-hour drive down from the San Francisco area, we would pick up supplies: a couple big buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a case of Shasta soda and a bottle of Roll-Aids.
Not exactly healthy living by today’s standards, though I suspect – or would like to believe – exercise offset some of the damage we did to our bodies, but we were young and immortal.
Jim and I hiked to a spot that became a favorite campsite, in part because of the stream that passed close by, moderately fast burbling water bouncing and bounding over the rocks – except for a small pool near a huge tree, just large enough for one person at a time to bathe in – refreshingly frigid on 100F mid-California afternoon. We called it Chief Two-Navels Bathtub.
I am not certain why that particular story came up in a stream-of-subconciousness rooted in a discussion of comedians who could – some still can – make the belly bounce with guffawing, without a single word bleeped when their shows appear on standard cable television.
I’m giving away my age some – to those in the know – when I mention a few of my favorites. (Not counting Bill Cosby because if you don’t have Bill Cosby on your list of favorite comedians, it’s a dead giveaway you just arrived in the past week from another star system.) My list includes Jerry Clower, Brother Dave Gardner, Justin Wilson, George Burns, and Tim Sample. More recent history demands including Gabriel Iglesias or Trevor Noah.
I could go into a few riffs of those comedians – humorous storytellers, actually – but space limits. On the other hand, anyone who hasn’t listened to any of those storytellers should seek them out on YouTube.
I also enjoy Ron “They call me Tater Salad” White. When he is performing on standard cable, usually Comedy Central, he is hilarious.
But for some reason I’ve yet to fathom, when he – or any of several potential funny performers – is on HBO or a live concert, he has to plug in a whole bunch of words that when THAT show plays on Comedy Central, it’s like they put a quart beer mug on the bl-e-e-e-p button and just leave it there until he says, “Thank you, and good night.” It’s downright distracting.
It’s not that I’m a prude. There are several people who have heard issue from my vocal apparatus words once, and some of them still, considered unacceptable in polite company. I lay claim to one of the finest teachers of language a man could ever experience. Two hitches in the USMC and 20 years a member of the NYPD gave him skills in colorful language generally admired in any three counties surrounding his performance. He was known, given the correct impetus, to go on for 15 minutes, never draw a breath, and never say any word twice.
There was a rumor Crayola had a whole box of colors they got from Dad, but one had to know the special address from which to order them. You didn’t find them at Newberry’s, which was the Five and Dime in the county seat near where I was raised.
One way to get him going was to use one of his words within earshot of Mom. Dad would launch into a string of expletives positively enthralling, punctuated by explicit reasons they should not be uttered by a boy under 21, or anyone within earshot of Mother.
But at least nothing Dad said was bleeped. He, and therefore his offspring, knew when to bleep himself. We seem to have lost that.