It started when Ralph told me Chris had a new pet.
"What is it?" I said. Fear was starting to well up in the pit of my stomach.
"A boa constrictor," Ralph said.
"Where is this boa constrictor?" I asked, thinking about my upcoming visit to their house and the guest room I once shared with Ralph's huge lizard Spike-ette.
"It's in your room," said Ralph, who used to keep pirahnas in a tank in his living room. He was sniggling. (A sniggle is a snide giggle).
I could hear my sister-in-law Gail, who was painting her kitchen, talking to me in the background.
"Tell her the boa came after the geckos, and the geckos came after the pirahnas," she said.
"Pirahnas?" I asked. Not again.
Chris got on the phone. Now Chris is 20 - an intelligent, hardworking, sort of laid-back kid with a well-cultivated sense of humor. He'd been tainted by his father. That I could see. I felt sorry for him.
"Chris, I understand you have a boa constrictor?" I asked.
"Yeah, he's a lot nicer to hold than a gecko," he said.
He then provided me with all sorts of fascinating information about boas, including their molting habits.
I can't wait to go home.
The other day I saw what I consider the world's most boring bumper sticker. It said: "Your dry cleaner does it best."
Considering the car was from Wisconsin, the dairy cow state, I would have expected something a little more on point - something like "We milk 'em for all they're worth."
One of the more entertaining quotes from my friend's daughter Sam: "I'd rather suck poisonous tree wax than not save a horse."
From my friend's son Ryan: "He was really a dragon but a wicked witch turned him into a boy."
I recently ran into a note I'd saved, with a quote from my late friend and colleague Franca Lewis. Franca was a master at mixed metaphors. She was talking about a tip she got on a story.
"I heard it on the horsevine," she said.
One day our big editor was tired of hearing strange messages and screams emanating from editors' computers. She was talking to a little editor about what he wanted his computer to say when it was distressed. (Computers talk a lot when they're upset).
"What do you want?" the big editor said. "Eeks, or beeps?"
I recently ran across an AP wire story I'd printed out for future reference. I don't think it made it into the paper. It was out of West Virginia. It was about the hazards of unlawful urination along the roadside.
A trooper told the story of a New York man who fell 40 feet off a bridge in Roane County when nature called, and he stopped to relieve himself. It took passing motorists two days to find him where he landed in a creek bottom.
In another tragic instance in 1993 a Raleigh County man parked beside the West Virginia Turnpike where it crosses over Skitter Creek. According to the story, the man thought he was stepping over the guardrail to relieve himself when he fell off the bridge.
The man died.
Just goes to show you.
Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.