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Show inspires antics of the American idle

June 08, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

So society has come to this: A son can't even give his mom's hair a friendly tousle without being hauled up on a felony rap.

According to the Plattsburgh (N.Y.) Press Republican, "A Plattsburgh man is facing felony charges for allegedly striking his mother in the head with a sharp object hooked to a bicycle chain after she made a comment about "American Idol."

OK, so where's the police boilerplate in cases like this, where they say that "alcohol was probably a factor?"

The mom came out in the papers the next day and said it was all a mistake, because her son just meant to mess up her hair, apparently not realizing that he happened to have a sharp object hooked to a bicycle chain in his hand at the time.

I think that's all happened to us at one moment or another. You go to pet the dog, not realizing that you're holding a mace, and - well, the results can be ugly.


What earned mom the hair tousle/sharp object attached to a bicycle chain attack was her contention that one of the "American Idol" contestants, Katharine McPhee, would have a successful career, even though she lost to Taylor Hicks.

Fighting words, if ever I've heard them. "McPHEE! I'll give you your McPhee right here!"

The son thought so, too, because the paper says he "allegedly stood up, made a malicious comment to his mother and struck her in the head with a sharpened, cross-shaped object attached to a bicycle chain. Court records say that (both) were drinking alcohol at the time."

Oh, there we go.

I hope, at least, that this Katharine McPhee chick is good enough to give Mums an autographed copy of her first CD. If someone's willing to take a bicycle chain in the grill defending your honor, it's the least you can do.

Although as it turns out, the term bicycle chain is a little misleading. The paper ran a photo of the weapon the next day and it is actually a novelty, "West Coast Choppers" bottle opener attached to a little iron cross by six links of bike chain. ("American Idol." West Coast Choppers. Sounds like the courts need to give this pair a restraining order on their television set.)

It came as a free gift for buying two packs of Camels. So here we have another case of a tobacco-related medical problem. When will people learn?

But the story, innocent misunderstanding or not, was still curious enough to be mentioned on the Drudge Report Web site, CNN, Fox News (obviously), MSNBC and ESPN Radio.

My brother, who happens to live in Plattsburgh and works for the Press-Republican, was rather proud, I think, because for all these years it seems as if Hagerstown has had the corner on bizarre behavior and that I was having all the fun.

But, since I was in Plattsburgh week before last, the problem might be me. I used to think I just happened to show up in places where strange things were happening, but it might be the other way around. My karma might breed insanity.

Besides, the mother said the cut - which required a trip to the hospital by ambulance - wasn't that big a deal, anyway. After all, she said, she "only had to get one stitch." She might have a point. I think New York has one of those "three stitches and you're out" laws, which would mean the son still has a couple in the bank.

You know what they say, the family that fillets together stays together, and maybe they just like to have a roughhousing good time, kind of like Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. And if giving someone a little swat is a crime, my cat would be doing 40 to life in small.

Even so, I'm not sure I could get worked up enough over "American Idol" to care what anyone said about a contestant. I can't even get worked up enough to watch it. I liked it well enough the first time I saw it, when it was called "The Gong Show." But a man can only take so much of people making snide remarks about singing fools, so I've never bought in to the new version.

I do like the chopper chows, though. Personally, I happen to like "American Chopper" better than "West Coast Choppers," but believe you me, I ain't gonna say that out loud in Plattsburgh.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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