Social strides devoured by beefy burger

June 26, 2007|By TIM ROWLAND

Sitting in Antietam Cafe last weekend, I found myself surrounded by three Alabamians.

So even though I was born in Minnesota, when they asked where I hailed from, I told them "West Virginia." Common sense dictated I minimize my Yankee heritage.

David, a retired Alabama judge, is hiking the Appalachian Trail. His wife, Melody, is an attorney and she was visiting him in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. - the last time she will see him until September. They know my friend Beth's cousin Jimmy back home, and even though they had never met, Southern hospitality required a warm welcome, and we received a warm greeting from them in return.

I ordered an ordinary hamburger. Or so I thought.

Anyway, for better or worse, everything I know about the Alabama judicial system I learned from the movie "My Cousin Vinny."


Judge David expanded upon that to the point that I now believe the farcical film underplayed reality. From the bench, David presided over a number of interesting cases, including this one:

A man on probation was hauled up on a violation charge, after he allegedly completed a business transaction with a woman who went by the name of "Mrs. Broussard."

Things did not go according to contract, apparently, and the gentleman stood accused of belting Mrs. Broussard over the dome with a beer bottle. He acknowledged that perhaps some, if not all, of the above had occurred, but contended that it was because she had been fishing in his pocket trying to steal his "Pell Grant money."

David said he noticed a tattoo on the man's arm and inquired about it, prompting the admission that he had "been a little drunk" when he got it. Then noticing a second tattoo on the other arm of a woman, ungraciously splayed, with her hands clasped behind her head and chest thrust to the fore, David made a second inquiry, to which the man responded: "Oh - that's Mrs. Broussard."

David and Melody delighted us with other stories of Southern politics, including my favorite, that being a candidate who ran on the thoughtful campaign slogan of "I Ain't Mad at Nobody."

Naturally, we had to bring up the recent news story - perhaps you saw it - of the Alabama state senator who hauled off and punched a colleague on the Senate floor. It made the rounds on YouTube.

David and Melody said that was bad enough, but worse was the senator's stereotypically drawling explanation of how the other senator called him an S.O.B. and that "back where I come from, that means you're a-talkin' about my momma."

David said it reminded him of countless post-tornado interviews, where a guy is standing outside a demolished trailer park saying on camera, "It sounded just like a freight train a comin.'"

I'll be honest, I'm not the most social of creatures. If I were running for office, my campaign slogan would be "I'm Mad at Everybody."

But two more wonderful people you could not hope to meet, so I was on my best behavior and doing my best to be interesting, engaging and, at the very least, socially acceptable.

But about that time, my favorite Antietam Cafe server showed up carrying a camera. This happens every so often, and frankly I was a bit jacked, thinking, "cool, now these two important people are going to see that they have something of a local celebrity in their midst."

"Well shucks," I said. "Sure, I guess I don't mind, I hate to let down a fan."

But that wasn't it. Apparently the one-pound burger I had ordered, called the "Cannonball," was so gargantuan that any glutton who polishes off the whole thing gets his photo taken and has it plastered on a dubious wall of fellow pigs.

Talk about the wind going out of one's sails. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Beth hiding her face in her hands.

I can hear David and Melody talking to the folks back home now: "Yes. Uh-huh. Well he seemed nice enough, but he gorged himself on so much ground beef they took his bloody photograph."

I hadn't even noticed it was all that large, sad to say. If I took a photo of myself every time I made one of similar size at home, I should have no more use for wallpaper.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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