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Use fewer words

you'll save more than a few cents

August 12, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

I ran into a friend at a carry-out joint last week, at which point our conversation went almost exactly like this:

"So," he said. "What's up at the paper?"

"Not much."

"Ag week, huh?"

"So it seems."

"Lotta cows on the front page."

"Agreed."

Women complain that men don't talk, but believe me, we can speak volumes in 21 words. It's not that we're less communicative, it's just that we're more efficient.

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I hate to admit this, but I watched a bit of the Kerry speech during the convention, which was kind of like reality TV, but not as meaningful.

First thing I see are all these military guys up on stage and flags and banners and the candidate comes out and gives us this wack salute and says something about "reporting for duty," and I'm thinking: These are the Democrats? Like the only thing missing from the stage was Chairman Mao.

And of course, you know that the Republicans aren't about to let anyone out fife-and-drum them, so they probably will march up on stage with tanks and maybe a few actual enemy corpses.

I tell you, Ralph Nader is starting to look awfully good. Crazy, but good.

Since NASA isn't going to use the Hubble anymore, can I have it?

Never buy a sandwich that has the word "chuckwagon" in its title.

I apologize, I hate "odds and ends" columns as much as you do. You know the kind. "Hey readers, what's the difference between a 'scattered' thunderstorm, a 'stray' thunderstorm and an 'isolated thunderstorm?" Or "I'm embarrassed to say how old I was before I discovered that a 'spinal tap' wasn't performed with the medical equivalent of a hammer and a nail punch." Yuk. I shan't be saving this one for the clip file, you can bet on that.

Will the six people from Hagerstown who work at Human Genome Sciences in Rockville, Md., (as reported this week by the Washington Post) please contact me? I have some experiments I want you to run, most involving Fitness Celebrity John Basedow.

Read my lips: Washington County does not need two Wal-Marts. It needs five, at the least. In fact, I don't want my home to be near a Wal-Mart, I want my home to be in a Wal-Mart. That way, if I need six dozen pair of tube sox and camp chairs in the middle of a thunderstorm I won't even have to get wet.

Actually, I have been to Wal-Mart a few times recently because the Scientific Calculator in High Heels believes it to be slightly cheaper. I don't understand how women who will spend $2,000 on earrings one day will act all proud of themselves for saving 16 cents on boneless chicken breasts the next. Memo to these women: There is nothing heroic about getting a box of raisins for seven cents cheaper. Stop acting like there is. Stop acting as if you've saved the family from certain destruction by getting two-for-one yogurts. 'Cause we all know the very next day you're going to spend every nickel you saved at the grocery store, times three, on "just the cutest little top" over at the mall.

But back to the Wal-Mart story. I love this, because it is such a purely quintessential Hagerstown moment, to wit:

Residents along Dual Highway are upset because they believe a new Wal-Mart is to be built in their midst.

The City of Hagerstown doesn't know anything about this.

The land owner doesn't want to talk.

The engineering firm won't return calls.

So why, pray tell, would residents ever suspect a Wal-Mart was coming? Because a map of the area submitted to the city by the engineers has "Wal-Mart" written on it. And then, the best line in the whole newspaper story about the situation: "City officials say they aren't sure what the wording on the map signifies."

Excuse me a second while I strap on my Sherlock-Holmes-like deerstalker and polish my magnifying glass. I've got some sleuthing to do.

Wal-Mart, Waallll-Maaarrttt; whatever could that signify? It could be a new drink - a cross between a Harvey Wallbanger and a martini. Possibly the engineering firm was going out for cocktails later that afternoon. Maybe it's code. Spelled backwards it's "traM-laW. Tram law. Maybe the firm is looking into the legalities of building a monorail. Whatever, I hope the city puts its best people on it so we can get to the bottom of this "Wal-Mart" mystery, whatever it may be.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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